Tottenham Hotspur fans were forced to bid farewell to one of their most beloved and talented defenders in recent history this week as Jan Vertonghen departed.
The Belgian centre-back saw his contract come to an end following the 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace on Sunday after eight years of service in North London.
In that time, Vertonghen managed 315 appearances for the Lilywhites, racking up 12 goals and becoming one of just 14 players to make over 200 Spurs Premier League appearances.
Not only that, but Vertonghen was one of the core members of the squad to push for back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017, as well as the Champions League in 2019. Unfortunately, he finishes his Spurs career with no winners’ medals.
Vertonghen was also part of the team that welcomed in both the new training ground, Hotspur Way, and the new stadium last year.
After eight seasons and a whole host of memories, the Spurs man certainly had a lot to say this week.
Vertonghen told the Tottenham Hotspur Website: “The Club means so much. From the first day I got here the people welcomed me and it felt like home. I was actually on the bench for my first game but after that, being able to play, being able to be important for the Club, with friends, it’s a very special feeling.
“I came here every day and it was just like I was hanging out with my friends and playing football. That feeling is very hard to describe. It just felt like enjoying my job, and that was very special. The last season was a bit different, but I always woke up with a smile. Mousa Dembele left, he’s one of my best friends, so that hurt a bit, but that’s what football’s about.
“I always felt great in the environment, with the supporters, and always felt appreciated by them. My family settled in London, my kids being born here… I will always have good memories.
“For eight years I’ve been driving here to the training ground, like it was home. If you look at my career, I spent nine years at Ajax and eight years here, and that’s how I am and how I want to be in life. I like to build certain things at a club, and I’ve managed to do that here.
“I have the feeling I can always come back here and that’s what it’s all about. I can come back here and walk back into the dressing home or into the stadium whenever I want, and that’s what I want at the end of my career. That’s what I can do at Ajax and that’s what I can do here. I’m very proud of that.”
On the memories he will take away, Jan added: “The one that comes to mind is obviously the Champions League Final, but if I have to go back and make a little summary, we weren’t even at this training ground (Jan joined in July, 2012, we moved from Spurs Lodge to Hotspur Way in September, 2012), I’m one of the few who experienced the old training ground, which was good, actually, to see where we’ve come from as a Club.
“A couple of weeks later Hugo came, then Mousa Dembele, Harry Kane was coming through, Winksy was in the Academy, and through the years, we achieved some great things. Obviously, no trophies, which is weird, because if you look at the team we had we should have won at least one trophy. It’s a shame we couldn’t make that happen for everybody.
“Still, the feeling is that we achieved quite a lot. We went to the Champions League Final, we were consistent in reaching the Champions League, which was very important for the Club. Personally, I made so many friends here. I’ve so many great memories, but all good things come to an end, as they say, and hopefully now a decent new adventure and we’ll see what happens.”
In a separate interview with TalkSPORT, Vertonghen revealed: “I will miss them. I had a great time at Spurs and made lots of friends, and learned lots of things – perhaps even more off the pitch than on the pitch from my family at Spurs, and I will miss everyone.
“It’s been a great ride and could have maybe lasted longer, but it’s time for it to end.”
On Jose Mourinho, Vertonghen added: “I felt like I owed that to him and to Spurs in general, as it wasn’t my best season and I can be quite disappointed at times, but it was my task to train hard and respect my teammates all the time I wasn’t playing or was on the bench. So I hope I did that.”
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