IT was mid-afternoon when Daniel Levy opened the front door to Mauricio Pochettino dressed in his favourite teddy bear jim-jams.
They have been bed-fellows ever since.
That was five years ago, when Levy cosied up to Poch on the sofa at his sprawling Totteridge home and convinced him to take the Tottenham job.
Tonight, when Spurs face Ajax in the Champions League semi-final at their new stadium, it will be the fulfilment of a shared vision.
Poch revealed: “My first meeting with Daniel was in his house. He was without shoes, dressed in pyjamas.
“But it was the afternoon, it was not the night. It’s the truth.
“First we talked about the squad because there were more than 30 players.
“It was 34 or 35 players. I said ‘oh, it’s an NFL team.’”
They are a proper football side now, one of the best after establishing a stylish way to play the game.
Pochettino has trimmed the fat, shedding the likes of Lewis Holtby, Nabil Bentaleb and Andros Townsend to build an eye-catching side.
‘MORE THAN A TROPHY’
Even without the trophies – that is put to Poch whenever they come up short – they have made serious progress.
He added: “Look how far ahead we are. That is why after five years, we must congratulate everyone here.
“Maybe we still haven’t won a trophy. But what we are doing now is more than just a trophy.
“What we achieve as a club is massive. Nobody in the history of football can repeat another like Tottenham have made.”
They trot out tonight for the sixth time at their new £1billion home to play arguably their biggest game since the 1984 Uefa Cup final against Anderlecht.
It is an intoxicating tie, stitching together purist values, sporting ideology and the altruistic principles of two great clubs.
Mention Ajax and the memories hark back to those beautiful white shirts with that iconic, thick red stripe running down the centre.
Of their fabled coach Rinus Michels and the Total Football philosophy passed down to Cruyff, to Van Gaal, to their current boss Erik ten Hag.
Then there are the players who carried out their coaches’ demands when they carted off the European Cup in 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1995.
Of Johan Neeskens, of Ruud Krol, or the celebrated Van Gaal 1995 team that included Frank Rijkaard, former Spurs midfielder Edgar Davids and match-winner Patrick Kluivert.
Spurs must overcome the weight of history.
Pochettino added: “We have a great opportunity to be here playing in the semi-final. It does not happen often and even more for a club like us.
“That’s why you must show respect for the competition and the opponents.
“It’s going to be so tough. Ajax fully deserve to be where they are and it’s going to be very competitive.
“To get to the semi-final means they have quality and unbelievable players. They were unbeaten in the group stage against tough teams like Real Madrid plus they beat Juventus.
“We can talk about their quality but it’s difficult to find any weakness.
“They are a team who deserve a lot of credit – the manager and the players are doing fantastic job.
“Frenkie de Jong is a fantastic player and I understand why Barcelona will pay £75million to sign him in the summer.
“He’s one of the players who impressed me the most but it’s not only him. They have a lot of players with a lot of capacity and quality.
“A little bit like us, no one believed Ajax could get through to semi-finals, but we are there because we deserve to be.”
STRIVING FOR GREATNESS
There is no doubt about that. Even with talisman Harry Kane’s injury and Son Heung-min’s suspension, Spurs are a vibrant, attacking force.
Defeat in West Ham’s annual cup final on Saturday was a disappointment for Poch and his players, no more than that.
Spurs are Champions League semi-finalists because they deserve to be there after achieving some magnificent results along the way.
Manchester City (4-4 on aggregate), the draw in Barcelona to clinch qualification, and triumphs against Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund.
To reach this stage and be in the new stadium is the realisation of an ambition.
Pochettino said: “Of course, I am not 100 per cent happy — we can always do better.
“We’re always trying to find better quality and ideas because in football it’s never enough.
“Maybe we haven’t won any trophies but with perspective we have done a very good job all together in the last five years.”
This is what Levy envisaged when he was dressed like Wee Willie Winkie on the day he persuaded Poch to leave Southampton.
Tonight, they hope to catch Ajax napping.