Ex-player reveals that he fell out of love with football during time with Tottenham

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Former Tottenham Hotspur star, David Bentley, has claimed that his decision to dump a bucket of water on Harry Redknapp was the start of the end of his Spurs career.

Bentley came through the ranks at Arsenal but arguably only came into his own after joining Blackburn. His performances at Ewood Park even saw people comparing him with David Beckham and an England call up soon followed.

Tottenham signed Bentley in the summer of 2008 and it looked at that point as if he was destined for a great career at the top of the game.

However, things quickly went downhill for the England international and he eventually announced his retirement from football at the tender age of 28.

He has now admitted that it was during his time with the Lilywhites that he fell out of love with football.

Bentley told The Athletic: “The move to Tottenham was big. (England manager) Fabio Capello told me, ‘You have to leave Blackburn’ and I always wanted to go to Tottenham.

“But it was moving out of an environment where, like at Arsenal, Blackburn felt like being part of a big family. And if you play in a team that feels like a family, it means so much more.

“(Juande) Ramos was the manager but got sacked within a few months of me joining. Strange times. And then Harry (Redknapp) came in and you felt it was a different set-up. At that point, it started to become less enjoyable.

“Football, for me, is an art form; a creative art form that you express with natural ability, which you maximise through the dedication of being fit. But I think things changed when it became a job.

“It was a rock-star life. You’re getting paid to play football every day. It was incredible. And then it got… halfway through my career, it was like, ‘This is a job’.

“Even though you took it seriously before, it was still like a rock star getting on stage and singing naturally. But then, if the managers are telling them exactly how to sing, it becomes robotic and too choreographed.

“I’d like to see that natural element come back into the game a little bit, that off-the-cuff maverick kind of expression.”

The 35-year-old also claimed that Redknapp held a grudge against him after he soaked the unsuspecting former Spurs boss when the club qualified for the Champions League in 2010.

Speaking about the incident, the former Spurs star said: “Before that, we always got on. We were similar in some ways.

“But I don’t think he was very happy when I put the bucket on his head. He’s said some things… I read the other day that he didn’t like it and maybe he’s just saying it to make his book more interesting.

“I did it because we’d qualified for the Champions League and it was brilliant. It was because of the feeling, the raw emotion of what we’d done. It was suggested by the other players and I went with it as always.”

“I played a lot that season (2009-10) but then, bucket over the head, and you watch — I barely played again.

“It wasn’t explained to me and that’s when you think it’s a business. I’d damaged his reputation. He wanted to be seen as a serious manager,but we’d just shown that we love you. I thought to myself, ‘You’ve totally gone the wrong way with this’.

“I read what he was saying in a newspaper article the other day (Redknapp said at the end of March that the incident ‘undermined’ him and the club, having previously called it ‘disrespectful’) and I was just thinking, ‘This is totally not true’.

“But you’ve got to take it and move on. Because that was way off and it wasn’t the way it was portrayed. That was the opposite to what went on.”

Spurs Web Opinion

I have always felt that the impact the soaking incident had on Bentley’s Spurs career has been exaggerated. The others involved in the incident certainly didn’t find themselves frozen out of the team. I think Bentley didn’t have the mentality to be able to bounce back from adversity when he found himself being constantly benched at Spurs. His confidence took a massive hit and he just never seemed to be able to recover from that.

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