LONDON: Ryan Mason described a feeling of "massive relief" after his first game in charge of Tottenham Hotspur ended in a vital 2-1 Premier League victory over Southampton on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old rookie coach was put in charge after Jose Mourinho was sacked on Monday, the day after Tottenham joined five other English clubs in joining the European Super League.
After a tumultuous 48 hours in which the new competition disintegrated in the face of a global backlash, Mason's managerial bow became a sub-plot.
But the former Tottenham and England midfielder watched his side claim a come-from-behind victory thanks to goals by Gareth Bale and Son Heung-min who tucked away a last-minute penalty.
It lifted Tottenham into sixth spot to revive their top-four hopes and put them in good heart for Sunday's League Cup final showdown with Manchester City at Wembley.
"First of all the feeling is a massive relief. It's been a whirlwind the last two or three days but thankfully we got the win and most importantly I felt second half we were outstanding," Mason, who retired in 2018 because of complications from a head injury, told reporters.
"The performance, the commitment, the energy was brilliant because I thought in the first half we found it very difficult."
Mason, who became the youngest manager in the Premier League's history, was clam and composed on the touchline and his decision to restore Bale to the starting line-up for the first time since mid-March proved inspired.
"Gareth's an exceptional player, he's had an exceptional career," Mason, who played alongside Bale during the Welshman's first spell at Tottenham, said. "Especially when you don't have (injured) Harry (Kane) in the team you need someone who can produce moments in the final third."
Mason, who has been put in charge for the rest of the season, managed in one game what Mourinho managed only once in 14 games - overturning a halftime deficit.
"It was just about giving them the belief, the energy, to have the bravery to play and express themselves but within that we had to compete as well because I felt there were some situations in the first half where they were quicker to the first ball," Mason said.
After a traumatic week for the club, Mason's managerial debut provided a boost with Tottenham now only two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with five games left.
"The most important thing is to create a good energy around the place. Winning matches does help," he said.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman)