There was a disarming, almost child-like innocence about Mauricio Pochettino.
The manager’s bewilderment at Tottenham’s failure to reach the last eight of the Champions League was in keeping with his boyish appearance.
The man is 47 going on 25.
Mauricio Pochettino’s boyish innocence reflected his side’s lack of nous against Juventus
The Italian side drew on their vast experience to sucker punch Tottenham twice
There was a shrug of disbelief as he said: ‘They make maybe three chances and score two. We make many chances and score one.’
Then a slow, charming smile as he absolved his players of blame for Wembley defeat by a team known as the Old Lady: ‘I am proud of them.’
You couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for him. Like a wide-eyed young tourist on their first visit to Italy having their valuables snaffled by a youth on a motor-scooter, his European dream had been snatched from his grasp.
Naivety the victim of street nous.
Spurs have oodles of youthful exuberance going for them but Juventus came to the second leg ingrained in the cunning of Italian football.
Juventus got back into the game through Gonzalo Higuain then went ahead soon after
Pochettino is of an age where he may not be versed in all the connotations of catenaccio.
He will be more familiar with the word now. Juventus are the modern embodiment of the Italian tradition for labyrinthine defence from which rapier counter attacks are sprung.
It is a system derided by many as pre-historically negative… until it impales them through the heart. Which is what happened to Pochettino and Co on Wednesday night.
Rio Ferdinand, who knows a thing or two about defending, said: ‘Juve lull you in.’ Well observed. Spurs fell into the trap.
Other television pundits dismissed the flickering seconds in which Juventus scored their two goals as Tottenham’s ‘three minutes of madness.’ Not so clever. The Italians have been luring the unsuspecting to distraction down the decades. Centuries even.
Il Calcio has its origins in Calcio Storico, their 15th century form of football in which the unwary were kicked, punched and head-butted to defeat.
Giorgio Chiellini typified the sterling defensive performance of the Italian champions
Like goals scored so often nowadays in those unforgiving extra minutes beyond the scheduled 90, those netted in quick succession are no less valid.
Fatigue, physical and mental, can explain late, late goals. Just as confusion at being caught by one lightning breakaway can beget another failing of concentration in the ensuing minutes.
Neither is excusable just because of the timing.
Tottenham were sucker-punched, not once but twice.
Juventus had been given a sharp reminder of their tradition in the first leg in Turin, where they went two up only to take their own eyes off the ball and allow Spurs to come back for a draw.
That gave Pochettino scope for hope but the Old Lady remembered her manners this week.
Juventus summoned up the pragmatic football which won Italy their World Cups of the past – and which has taken this former European Cup-winning club to two of the last three Champions League Finals.
There was a lack of pragmatism about Spurs when they should have killed the game
Their veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini remarked: ‘We believe in our history. We trust in our experience.’ For Juventus, this was a refresher course in football Italiano.
For Pochettino it has to be a lesson absorbed along the Euro learning curve.
That is by no means beyond him. His is a refreshing voice in the chambers of the Premier League and he has ardent students in the likes of Kane, Eriksen and perhaps Alli if he is ever willing to listen. He has re-invigorated Tottenham’s football, significantly.
But sport is an unforgiving master. One that judges by success.
In five years since coming to England, four of them at Spurs, Pochettino has won nothing thus far.
Even for such a young-looking chap, the clock is always ticking.