Sheringham and the Itinerant Nature of Tottenham’s Strikers

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At 32 years old, Leicester-born Striker Gary Lineker left Tottenham after three prolific seasons. Tottenham had just finished 15th in the final season of the English Football League First Division. As founding members of the F.A. Premier League, Tottenham immediately set out to find another striker to fill the boots left by Lineker’s departure.

About three weeks into the 1992-93 season, Tottenham was able to sign former Millwall and Nottingham Forest man Teddy Sheringham for 2.1 Million Pounds. In all competitions, Sheringham appeared 197 times in a Spurs shirt scoring 99 goals. However, during Sheringham’s time in the Starting XI, Tottenham had an average league finish of 9.6 as the club languished in the mid-table. By the end of the 1997 season, Sheringham found himself at 31 with no major league or European titles to his name.

Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson swooped in and signed Sheringham for 3.5 Million Pounds to replace the mercurial Eric Cantona. In Sheringham’s first season away Manchester United was only able to win the community shield losing the Premier League title to Arsenal. Sheringham was also forced to share playing time with teammates Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Andy Cole, the latter forming a powerful combination even though the two refused to speak to each other. During the 1998-99 season Tottenham secured their first hardware in eight years with a less than stunning League Cup win against Leicester City. Meanwhile Manchester United won a treble capped off with a goal and assist by Teddy Sheringham during injury time in a comeback win in the Champions League final. Sheringham was not the first nor would he be the last to leave Tottenham for greener pastures.

Jürgen Klinsmann dove his way into the hearts of Tottenham supporters during his first stint at White Hart Lane at the beginning of the 1994-95 season. He formed a partnership with Teddy Sheringham which allowed Klinsmann to slot in 30 goals in all competitions. After one season, Klinsmann left for FC Bayern Munich winning a UEFA Cup the precursor to the UEFA Europa League in 1996 and the next year a Bundesliga title. A transfer to Serie A club Sampdoria saw him loaned back to Tottenham and at 33, he featured for the team 15 times as Tottenham finished 14th in the Premier League.

Wolves youth product Robbie Keane was on his fourth club in five years when he joined Tottenham Hotspur. The most-capped player in Ireland’s history was set to take over for Les Ferdinand, the current Tottenham striker coach, and at the time current Tottenham striker. In five and a half seasons, Keane scored 122 goals in all competitions. His knack for build-up play and his skillful dribbling added another dimension to Tottenham’s goal scoring capabilities. Martin Jol was able to get the best out of the journeyman as he led Tottenham to back to back 5th place league positions.

During the summer of 2008, Liverpool made their interest public as they looked to woo the Tottenham striker to Anfield. Resistance and accusations followed with Tottenham even filing a complaint against the Merseyside club for their actions during the saga. In late July, Tottenham confirmed the sale of the striker to Liverpool for an estimated 20 Million Pounds. Keane had a short and disappointing spell with Liverpool with two major goal-scoring droughts during the first six months of the season.

At his unveiling Keane spoke of his admiration since boyhood of the Merseyside club yet during the January transfer window in a bizarre turn of events was sent back to North London. Harry Redknapp criticized Rafa Benitez’s handling of the Irish striker and Keane apologized to all involved. In his second stint, Keane featured less due to the competition for the striker position from Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe and at 30 years old found himself down on the pecking order. A loan spell to Celtic and London rivals West Ham United saw Keane’s career at Tottenham end in a whimper as he left to the MLS to join David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy. The Galaxy was Keane’s tenth club in his sixteen playing years. Robbie Keane seemed to divide supporters when he returned to train at Tottenham’s grounds last year with some supporters expressing their admiration for his seven and a half seasons of service while others fulminated the return of Tottenham’s 10th highest scorer.

At 6’7, Peter Crouch could be one of the most physically imposing footballers in the world in the mold of a Peter Schmeichel or Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Instead Peter Crouch only weighs around 176 pounds giving the man from Macclesfield a lanky figure. At 14, Crouch signed a youth contract with Tottenham and turned professional in 1998.

After two years in North London and not one appearance he was sent to Queen’s Park Rangers in the First Division in 2000. Peter Crouch would finally make an impact in the Premier League with Rafa Benitez and his successful years in Liverpool during the Mid-2000s. Crouch won a FA Cup, a Community Shield, and with a 68th minute substitution featured in Liverpool’s 2007 Champions League loss to AC Milan.

Harry Redknapp paid 10 Million Pounds for Crouch who returned to his boyhood club during the summer of 2009. Appearing 48 times in all competitions, Crouch became a stalwart of Tottenham’s continuing revival. An own goal by Crouch however caused Tottenham to miss out on Champions League football during the 2010-11 season and on the last day of the 2011 summer transfer window Stoke City completed a move for the England International. So far Peter Crouch has played for 11 different clubs in his 15 year career.

London-born Jermain Defoe moved from Charlton Athletic to West Ham United and turned professional as a teenager. From 2001 on, Defoe starred for the Hammers scoring forty goals. The diminutive striker formed a relationship with Harry Redknapp, as the pair would work together for three different clubs. Defoe made the move to Tottenham in January of 2004 for 6-7 Million Pounds. Defoe knocked in over 60 goals during his first years in North London. Barring a biting incident involving Javier Mascherano, Defoe’s first four years saw him form a positive relationship with Robbie Keane and score consistently during the 2004-05 season.

After the club’s record breaking signing of Darren Bent for 16.5 Million Pounds, Redknapp and Defoe were reunited as Defoe made a 6 Million Pound move to Portsmouth. However a year after the 2008 January transfer to Portsmouth, Defoe asked for a move back to Tottenham as Harry Redknapp had been appointed manager four months earlier. In 164 appearances Defoe scored 69 goals for a rate of 0.42 goals per game. Notably, Defoe scored five goals in a game against Wigan Athletic. Since his return, Defoe has appeared in at least 30 games and had three seasons of 15 goals or more. Jermain Defoe started the 2012-13 season sparkling but injury and subsequent loss of form left Tottenham lacking a reliable source of goals from the striker position. This has recently led to links with Stoke City reuniting him with Peter Crouch or with Harry Redknapp’s Queen’s Park Rangers.

Many supporters trace the issue of Tottenham’s strikers to the 2008 sale of the laissez-faire Bulgarian Dimitar Berbatov. For the last twenty years however, Tottenham’s attack has been in a state of influx. The club suffered in the middle of the Premier League table with the only sign of relief coming from Martin Jol’s appointment. Because of this the club was not able to attract new talent or keep a hold of the current talent. Teddy Sheringham left the club to earn trophies something he had tried to do for the last five years with Tottenham. Robbie Keane sought Champions League football when he left for Liverpool after serving time with the Lilywhites. Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch both looked to get involved in Portsmouth’s big money push for European football. Tottenham became a place for strikers to make their name and then move to more successful clubs to win their trophies. Since 1992, Tottenham’s big name strikers included Teddy Sheringham, Robbie Keane, Peter Crouch, Dimitar Berbatov, and Jürgen Klinsmann who have gone on to win 8 league titles on two continents, 2 European titles, 2 Community Shields, 2 FA Cups, and a Carling Cup.

The future outlook of Tottenham Hotspur may cause some optimism. Since Martin Jol with the exception of Juande Ramos has featured the club finishing no lower than 5th place in the Premier League. Champions League football is now a consistent realistic objective for the white side of North London. This means Tottenham must find a stable striking option for the 2013-14 season. Tottenham could possibly put to rest the notion that the club will not win any major trophies and that the club is a stepping stone to be featured at the next level. This goes for current stars Gareth Bale, Jan Vertonghen, and Hugo Lloris who should realize Tottenham is on the rise and are no longer the mid-table squad that plays beautiful attacking football, or the home of journeyman strikers, or the team that can raise your profile so you can go to the Barcelona’s, Real Madrid’s, and Bayern Munich’s of the footballing world. A new age for Tottenham has dawned- Teddy Sheringham once commented on his transfer “The only way I’d have gone was if it would better my career, I would not have gone just for the money. The point was to go to a club that could win trophies,” Tottenham are now poised to win trophies.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Tottenham has been "on the rise" now for eight or nine seasons — That's how long Spurs have been "poised" in and around the top 5. In that time I've begun to cringe every time I see a reference to a top class team full of "promise" and ready to "pounce". As a Spurs fan for nearly 50 years I feel strongly that this coming one will be make or break. Fighting against the iron grip on the club's purse strings and unable to fill weak spots adequately, AVB, Bale and the other world class players can't hang around forever in hopes of winning a trophy and qualifying for Champions League. Above all, I believe the Football League, its billionaire clubs and media won't allow Spurs in the top 4 and that will be the end of it unless Spurs prove themselves sooooo superior it's not funny.

  2. I don’t think we ever had bad strikers during the 90s through to us growing out of our slumber. Our strikers bearing a few that should of worked and didn’t ( rebrov, postiga) have always been decent enough. It was always a combination throughout those seasons of defence and midfield letting us down and buying either has beens or injury prone players or 2nd rate players no one had heard of (redknapp, poyet, zeige, tramazani, saib, berti, rasiak etc) now though its flipped our strikers aren’t the best but our midfield and defence are much better. Typical!

  3. Very interesting read, proves that having a top striker doesn't guarantee success too, however if we could replicate Lineker or Klinsmann now then the sky could really be the limit, we're so close to scaring our competitors shitless as we've also got a certain Gareth Bale, add Benteke to our team and we'd be close to complete, for the purist perhaps wing cover, a playmaker and a LB.

  4. Of course having only a good strike force dosent garantee succes, just as having only a great midfield or only a great defence does. But i feel we have a good defence, we have a good midfield, eventho id like if we had this playmaker mid player aswell. We dont have a great strikeforce tho. I dont mind keeping Defoe as a third striker, who can jump in and maybe score one, but we do need 2 really good pair of strikers tho. We are used to have one great striker and then so and so strikers while a team like united as in the said article usually have around 3. Sherringham, solskjaer, cole. We need strikers that we believe can score against the big teams, who can show their skills not only against weaker opposition. And by god i do hate this effing twitter facebook icon who goes over the screen so i cant see what i type.

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