TOBY ALDERWEIRELD returned to Madrid yesterday in search of Euro glory spurred on by his heartache of five years ago.
The Belgian defender was in the Tottenham squad which arrived in the Spanish capital ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final against Prem rivals Liverpool.
It is a city he knows well having spent a year playing at Atletico which culminated with an appearance as a second-half sub in their devastating 4-1 extra-time defeat by neighbours Real in the all-Madrid final of 2014.
Alderweireld, 30, and his pals led 1-0 until stoppage time and he said: “We were so close to winning it, then in the 90th minute or something Sergio Ramos scored.
“So, yeah, the feeling of losing is very hard.
“I’ll take this feeling to the final and show I want it more than anyone else.”
Alderweireld admitted he was left shell-shocked by that loss in Lisbon.
He added: “It is difficult because you are 25 years old. That night I flew to Belgium because we had the World Cup coming up, so there was no time to grieve.
“Two days later, I was playing against Luxembourg in preparation for the World Cup. It was only after the finals that I had time to think about it.
“I thought it was a big chance and maybe it would never come again. At that moment it was like, ‘We lost but now I travel to Belgium and the World Cup’. It was a strange moment.”
Alderweireld is determined not to waste his second crack at winning Europe’s elite competition.
It is almost three weeks since the end of their league season. But boss Mauricio Pochettino has not let his stars put their feet up.
Alderweireld said: “In the last couple of weeks we’ve been trying like animals.
We’re trying to give our best every day because that is the way we need to work to be in our best state for the final.
“Everybody wants to be there, to be involved and give their best — it started two weeks ago.”
Last year’s losing finalists Liverpool are overwhelming favourites to lift the trophy after finishing runners-up to Manchester City in the title race, 16 points ahead of fourth-placed Spurs.
The Kop also won both of their top-flight clashes 2-1.
But Alderweireld added: “We have to be confident in our own game, the game we want to play.
“In the last game at Anfield we had a difficult start but second half we were better than them.
“We have to learn from that and have the confidence to play and put them under pressure.”
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It was thought it could be Alderweireld’s last Spurs game after they triggered his one-year contract extension in January.
It includes a complex a £25million release clause which can be activated until the final two weeks of the transfer window — and Manchester United are keen.
But he said: “My only focus is Spurs and because of this focus I think I had a good season as well.”