‘If I had the brain I do today’ – Former Spurs midfielder admits he may have left too soon

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
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Lewis Holtby has been speaking about his time at Tottenham and the honour of being asked to play in Ledley King’s testimonial match in 2014. 

Holtby joined Spurs from Schalke in January 2013 as one of the brightest talents in German football.

The midfielder made a positive start to life in North London under Andre Villas-Boas and quickly became a fan favourite with his energy and willingness to engineer the play from the centre of the pitch. 

However, Holtby never managed to cement a permanent spot in the Spurs line-up, with loans to Fulham and Hamburg in the seasons after his arrival enough to settle his decision to leave and make a return to his native Germany and admitted that if had his time again, he probably would have stayed in North London.

But before his departure, Holtby was invited to Spurs icon King’s testimonial in May 2014 to celebrate the end of the defender’s career, which yielded 324 appearances for the club. 

His most iconic moment in the encounter was his hilarious challenge on referee Howard Webb after the official took matters into his own hands to start dribbling with the ball in midfield. 

The crunching tackle was met with a raucous reception from every corner of White Hart Lane which is something Holtby, now plying his trade at 2. Bundesliga side Holstein Kiel, still cherishes to this day. 

Speaking to the club’s official website, he said: “Obviously I had been on loan at Fulham, but I got invited to play at Ledley’s testimonial event which was an honour for me. 

“Firstly, Howard Webb is a funny character, a lovely guy and in the tunnel before the game he said, ‘let’s just have fun guys and enjoy this moment with Ledley’ and the tackle came out of the blue. He just took the ball off me and my first instinct was just to clobber him. 

“The tackle was a bit of a scissor action. Obviously, I didn’t hurt him, which is one good thing but then the other good thing is how it ended up going viral. It was a funny scene, but he was quite good with it.

“Then, when the whole stadium sang to me, ‘we want you to stay’, it made really crazy emotions in me. I get goosebumps thinking about it now. I really wanted to stay but, at the end of the transfer window in 2014, we made that last minute decision to go back to Germany.

“I think the uncertainty had (brought about my decision to leave). I really loved game time. I wanted to play. I didn’t want to be a squad player – at that age especially. If you are a different age, you think about it differently. At that age I loved playing every week rather than 10 or 15 minutes in the Premier League.

“I made a decision to play football but, if I had the brain I do today, I probably would have stayed because Spurs is such a special place.”

Spurs Web Opinion 

Holtby was definitely a fan favourite despite never really fulfilling his true potential at Spurs, and he was often seen as a bubbly persona at the club. It’s a shame his time at the club never yielded into something more because the talent was obviously there. 

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