Former Tottenham striker, Dimitar Berbatov, has hit back at suggestions that he was lazy on the pitch and insisted that it was his ability to sense the spaces around him that made him the player he was.
Berbatov arrived at Spurs in the summer of 2006 after finishing as the Bundesliga’s top scorer with Bayer Leverkusen the previous season.
His class on the ball was immediately apparent when he stepped out onto the pitch and it didn’t take long for him to win over the White Hart Lane faithful.
The Bulgarian struck up a wonderful understanding with Robbie Keane and the pair tormented defences for a couple of years with their movement, intelligence, and finishing ability.
While everything that Berbatov did had a touch of class about it, it is safe to say that he was not the hardest working player on the pitch and often cut a languid figure.
The striker has now defended his style and suggested that it was his ability to assess the options around him instead of constantly running that allowed him to stay one step ahead of the defenders.
Speaking to his former Spurs teammate Jermaine Jenas, Berbatov told BBC’s Football Daily Podcast: “Everybody is different in the way they see the game and play. My difference was that sometimes you would see I might not be into the game, but at the same time I was scanning the pitch to see where to position myself at the right moment, at the right time in a pocket of space – and you can give me the ball so that I have more time to myself and not have someone on my back.
“When I have that time and space I have more time to think about where to put the ball.
“Some people don’t understand it, but if you are clever in your head, even if you are slow in speed, you can still be quick. You can position yourself better and be even more use to your team.
“If you were to put it into order of the players who would run in my Tottenham team I would say Jermaine, [Robbie] Keane and then probably everybody else – with me behind.
“But I was running in my head. And when I see someone in a better position than me I always give the ball. No selfishness. In the end we win and lose together.
“It seems a bit strange, but in every team I have been in, you see my style of play and sometimes fans and players don’t understand that and they become a bit afraid of it, like I am not helping and not good for the team.
“But after a while, you get used to it because this style can bring results.”
Spurs Web Opinion
Berbatov was not just a class apart during his two years at White Hart Lane but he was also an absolute joy to watch. Watching him drop deep, stop the ball dead with his first touch, and caress passes around the pitch was poetry in motion. Despite all the trophies he won at Manchester United, I believe we got to see the best of him at Spurs.
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