EAGAN, Minn. – Prior to suiting up for their first full-pads practice at Verizon Vikings Training Camp, some of the players tried their hand – or should I say feet – at a different type of football.
Members of the English Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur visited Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, where “Voice of the Vikings” Paul Allen introduced Kirk Cousins, Everson Griffen, David Morgan, Latavius Murray, Andrew Sendejo and Adam Thielen to international guests.
Conversely, introduced by the “Face of Spurs TV” Paul Miles were Tottenham’s Heung-min Son, Victor Wanyama, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Davinson Sanchez and goalkeeper Michel Vorm.
The athletes exchanged handshakes, photos and jerseys, but also had a friendly competition.
The Vikings and Spurs were each asked to complete a drill of the opposing team. Cousins demonstrated the kicking motion of a field goal, after which three Tottenham players knocked the pigskin through the uprights.
Players from the A.C. Milan F.C. visited the Vikings during Saturday's practice and players from Tottenham Hotspur F.C. visited the TCO Performance Center for Monday's practice ahead of the International Champions Cup at U.S. Bank Stadium on Tuesday.
Next up, the Vikings.
The players got their chance to attempt a goal, and only Murray’s – thanks to a generous gesture by Vorm – made it to the back of the net.
Griffen and Sendejo each hit the soccer ball with plenty of force, rocketing it past the intended target.
“It was fun getting to kick a soccer ball. I tried to fake him left to go right, but I faked him left and kicked it too hard, and it went over his head,” chuckled Griffen, who later donned his fresh, white Tottenham jersey at dinner in the Vikings facility. “But it was fun. They’re great athletes, as well, and getting the opportunity to meet them was really fun.”
Vorm commended the Vikings for their efforts.
“Obviously it’s a different way of kicking. They have a lot of power, though,” Vorm quipped. “But because you need to keep the ball low, and that’s not what they’re used to, so it’s difficult. But they did well, they did well.
“It’s cool, as professionals, to meet other professional [athletes],” the Netherlands native told Vikings.com. “It’s a little bit different than us, but I think there are a lot of similarities, as well. It’s just cool to be around all of these guys and watch a bit of practice, as well.”
Vikings Executive Vice President of Public Affairs Lester Bagley appreciated the unique opportunity to connect the two highly touted teams.
Besides interacting with a global brand like Tottenham Hotspur, it was great having our players connect – they had a great time together,” Bagley said. “Tottenham’s in the U.S. to help grow its brand, and we have [a fan base] beyond Minnesota’s borders and would like to see the Vikings brand and fan base grow internationally, as well.”
Soccer has been an interest of the Wilf Family, who last summer joined the ownership group of Nashville’s expansion MLS team, set to begin play in 2020. Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf and Vikings executives met earlier Monday with Tottenham’s executive team, where they also exchanged team jerseys.
“The Vikings front office, our Ownership, they’re very interested in soccer – at the local level, national level and internationally,” Bagley said. “We’ve got relationships and interests internationally, and there’s been a good several-year partnership between the Vikings and Tottenham at the Ownership level, front-office level and now today with our players. It was just a great day, having the guys get to kick it around in front of our fans, as well.”
The Spurs arrived in Minnesota Sunday and will play an International Champion’s Cup match at U.S. Bank Stadium at 7:35 p.m. (CT) Tuesday.
Click here to purchase tickets to Tuesday’s game between Tottenham and A.C. Milan at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Prior to meeting the Vikings, the Spurs players interacted with Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, who joined the soccer team on the practice field.
Spielman spent some time speaking with Son, who recently signed a five-year deal with Tottenham. Spielman demonstrated for Son where to place his fingers along the laces of the football to execute a pass most effectively.
“I can’t throw the ball – with the hands, I’m not good enough,” Son told Vikings.com with a laugh. “I’m better with my feet. But that’s just what I told him, and he was teaching me how to throw. I tried my best, but it wasn’t good enough.
“I’m not sure how to say, but I really enjoyed this moment and this day,” Son added. “I was very happy to see these guys here with unbelievable training grounds, unbelievable fans. I’m just very happy to be here.”
The Spurs were the second international football club to visit the Vikings camp.
Earlier this week, members of A.C. Milan were guests at TCO Performance Center and took a shot at some field goals with Vikings specialists Ryan Quigley, Kevin McDermott, Kai Forbath and Daniel Carlson.