Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes believes team-mate and compatriot Sandro has the potential to become Brazil's next midfield superstar after comparing him to the legendary Dunga.
Despite all the pre-match talk of Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart being Spurs' most important players, it was Sandro who arguably had the biggest impact in both legs of Tottenham's last 16 tie against AC Milan. With only six previous starts under his belt, the midfielder took seamlessly to the task of breaking up Milan's play in the 1-0 win in the San Siro before delivering an equally tenacious performance in last night's goalless draw at White Hart Lane, which saw the club through to the last eight.
After the match, Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp was quick to lavish praise on the 21-year-old who he signed for £6.5million last year, describing his performance as "immense". Sandro has become a regular in the Brazil squad ever since Mano Menezes replaced Dunga as national team manager, and Gomes reckons his team-mate deserves to be compared to the man who lifted the FIFA World Cup™ for the South Americans in 1994.
"Sandro is a good player, really quick. It's a great time for him at the moment," Gomes said. "I think he looks like Dunga when he played in midfield. He has quality, he can play as well, hold the ball and win it. He can play and has been brilliant for us."
Sandro was left out of the original Spurs squad for the UEFA Champions League group stages, but was added to the list in January after Tom Huddlestone suffered a serious ankle injury in November. He thinks the squad should have every reason to be optimistic of making the final at Wembley in May after seeing off Milan and champions Inter earlier in the campaign.
"It is a possibility and a dream for me to reach the final of the best competition in the world," Sandro said. "We got past Milan so why can't we get past other big clubs too?"
Tottenham's players were given no time to celebrate their famous passage to the last eight as they were called in for a warm-down at the club's training ground this morning. Van der Vaart went straight down the tunnel after being withdrawn half-way through the second half last night, but it is understood the Dutchman did not suffer a recurrence of the calf injury which made him a doubt for last night's clash and should be fit to face West Ham.
The team now have 10 days before the match against Redknapp's former team, but next Friday's quarter-final draw in Nyon will undoubtedly be at the forefront of their minds right now. Potentially mouth-watering ties against Real Madrid, Chelsea or Manchester United could be in the offing, but the one team that Spurs are keen to avoid is Barcelona, who produced a master class in attacking football to knock out Arsenal on Tuesday.
"We will take anyone but Barcelona," said Gomes, who was proud of his two clean sheets against Milan. "It's not easy to keep a clean sheet against them because they have quality players. We defended well and attacked them when we had the chance."
Redknapp admitted his team would find it hard to keep out the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and David Villa, but insists the tournament is wide open. "Barcelona are as good a team as I've seen in my time in football, they're the team to beat for anybody," he told Sky Sports News. "Anyone could win it, you never know - Jose (Mourinho) won it with Porto (in 2004) when they weren't expected to.
"The favourites are the two Spanish clubs (Barca and Real Madrid), there are two fantastic English clubs with Manchester United and Chelsea but we're in there, let's see where it takes us. It's been a great adventure and we want more of it, we want to see if we can go all the way."