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Spurs defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto: 'Tottenham is stigmatised across London'
In the second part of an exclusive three-part interview with Benoit Assou-Ekotto, the Haringey Independent talks to the flamboyant full-back about his relationship with the fans, his feelings about what he describes as the stigmatisation of Tottenham and the fact that he doesn’t like football.
Three little letters – ‘LOL!’ - have become synonymous with the extrovert broadcasts of Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s immensely popular Twitter page.
And the ‘Laugh Out Loud’ acronym has become symbolic of the grinning Premier League star’s eccentric attitude, that has earned him cult status at White Hart Lane.
The Cameroon international says he enjoys interacting with his legion of more than 142,000 Twitter followers because: “It is funny. I like to joke with people so it’s cool.”
But it is his relationship with people on the streets of Tottenham that perhaps best singles Assou-Ekotto out as one of the more down-to-earth players in the multi-million pound franchise of the Premier League.
Since signing from Lens in 2006, the 29-year-old has regularly travelled to the council estate-strewn area of Tottenham High Road for the simple task of getting his hair cut.
The afro-becoiffed footballer said: “With my hair I have to go to this part of London - I have gone there for the past six or seven years. When I was young I had a Ferrari or Bentley or Cayenne, which I would park on the street, and I never had a problem with anyone.
“When people come across me, they speak with me about football – I’m not particularly a fan of football but for them I see on their faces they’re happy to speak about it with a Premier League player, so if they want to speak for an hour I will.”
As a regular visitor to Tottenham outside White Hart Lane, French-born Assou-Ekotto is well placed to comment on the effect a new ground could have on the area.
Building work on the new stadium is underway and the defender believes the development is good news for an area that just two years ago was under siege during the 2011 riots.
It was following the summer riots two years ago that Assou-Ekotto best displayed his affection for the people of Tottenham, participating in a walkabout around some of the streets worst affected by the violence.
Looking back on the events of 2011, he said: “I was very surprised (to hear about the riots) because when I go there it’s quiet, it’s cool, the people are very friendly.
“I think we stigmatise the area a little bit too much - I’ve been going there for seven years and never had a problem.
“When I speak with people in London, they say Tottenham is a ghetto but I know a few ghettos in France and I don’t go there with my sports car to cut my hair.
“I think this new stadium will give jobs to the population around Tottenham, but I worry I won’t be young enough to play there – there’s not three Ryan Giggs.”
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