CRISTIAN ROMERO hit back at claims he is a nasty player — and says his no-nonsense defending is just his “style of play”.
Argentina’s World Cup winner is turning into arguably one of the planet’s most respected centre-backs.
But Romero’s aggressive tackling and hot-headed ways have earned him a reputation.
Yet the Tottenham star, 25, claims he respects every opponent he faces, even if Premier League clashes turn ugly.
And ahead of Spurs’ trip to Goodison to face relegation-haunted Everton today, he told SunSport: “People say I am nasty? In reality, this is just my style of play.
“It’s the way I go about things and that’s it.
“But I have huge respect for every opponent I face weekly.
“Maybe during a game we have a go at each other — but that’s all forgotten once we leave the pitch.
“I don’t feel invincible. I am just someone who wants to improve every day and I respect every player and team in the world!”
Despite losing the world’s “best” centre-forward in Harry Kane to Bayern Munich last summer in a deal potentially worth £104million, Tottenham are now fourth in the table.
Conte left Spurs last March, with Aussie Big Ange named as his replacement in June.
And Romero said: “The truth is last year I wasn’t happy on a personal and collective level.
“Things didn’t go well at all with . . . we all know who our manager was. But thankfully now we have another gaffer and we renovated our team. This shows the club is doing things the right way.
“They brought in a competent manager and added the right players to our squad.
“We lost Kane, who is the best striker in the world. Everyone knows he is but, maybe, he needs to win a trophy to put that debate to rest.
“But he’s gone now and we are focusing on ourselves as we want to keep improving.
“The win against Brentford was very important for us as it came straight after Man City where we didn’t do so well.
“We risked it in the first half but in the end we won.
“And doing so with our style of play, our way was huge.”
This burgeoning Tottenham side are certainly heading in the right direction.
Yet although Postecoglou’s men are making giant leaps, Romero claims they are “not yet ready” to go toe-to-toe with big boysManchester City and Liverpool.
The Argentine explained: “To win trophies you need to tick off many boxes — having the right manager and players is just not enough.
“We need time and patience to win stuff, or at least to compete with teams like Manchester City and Liverpool who are out on their own in the Premier League.
“They are the teams to beat but more of the same from our club and chairman, who are laying the foundations, and we’ll push them hard one day.
“Even if we’re not yet ready to win this season, we’re on the right track and just need to keep it going.”
Defensive partner Micky Van de Ven has been one of the revelations of the season after joining for an initial £35m from Wolfsburg in August.
The Dutchman, 22, has hailed Romero as a “world-class” footballer. Yet the Argentine feels his team-mate is not getting enough credit for his debut campaign.
He said: “In this moment, Micky is one of the best central defenders in the Premier League.
“But marketing plays a big part in how people see you here — that’s why he is not spoken about enough.
“He doesn’t get any publicity and is not built up at all.
“But he’s doing so well and we hope that he can continue — I am so happy for him.
“He’s young, hungry and wants to get to the next level. He has a great career ahead.”