The 32-year-old who is gradually resuscitating his career in France, disclosed the transfer contact he had to move to North London last year
Lyon striker Islam Slimani said he received a phone call from former Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho when he was struggling to settle down at Leicester City.
Before completing a free transfer to the Groupama Stadium earlier this year, the Algeria star endured a torrid spell at Leicester with loan spells at Newcastle United, Fenerbahce and Monaco.
It was a turnaround campaign for Slimani during the 2019-20 season where he scored nine Ligue 1 goals in 18 games despite a tactical switch that saw him drop to the bench.
His impressive goal record last year made him a transfer target for Spurs and he described Mourinho’s call as ‘a reward for his form’.
“At the start, I was the typical scorer. I changed my way of playing a bit in Turkey (2018-2019, in Fenerbahce), where I had to drop out to get balls,” Slimani told L’Equipe. “And then with Wissam (Ben Yedder) in Monaco (2019-2020), it worked well like that too, even if (Robert) Moreno (the coach, arrived in December 2019) chose to only play with a striker last year, so to put me on the bench.
“Mourinho then called me at this time for Tottenham. It is a form of reward. You tell yourself that some see your efforts.”
On the international scene, Slimani – who has been a regular fixture in Algeria national team since he made his debut against Mali in May 2012 – explained Algerians’ love for football.
The 32-year-old was part of Djamel Belmadi’s team that won the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt and he is the second all-time top scorer in the Desert Foxes’ history with 31 goals in 70 games – five gooals behind Abdelhafid Tasfaout.
He said: “Every time I wear the Algerian jersey, it’s like it was the first time, with the same emotion. With us, football is crazy.
“When we were African champion in 2019, or when we came back from Brazil in 2014, it was incredible. When you see the people like that, old people, mothers running in front of the bus just to say thank you. I wanted to say thank you for being there in return.”