Rafael van der Vaart may have only spent two seasons at White Hart Lane but Tottenham fans will always retain great memories of the silky Dutchman.
Van der Vaart hit the ground running after arriving on deadline day from Real Madrid and his addition made Tottenham’s midfield a formidable force, alongside the likes of Luka Modric, Gareth Bale, Jermaine Jenas, and Aaron Lennon.
The former Real Madrid man has now opened up on the circumstances that led to his late move to North London in the summer of 2010 after the Netherlands had been beaten by Spain in the World Cup final.
In a conversation with Peter Crouch for The Daily Mail, the former midfielder said: “It was one of the best summers, but one of the most difficult.
“We (Holland) were so close to history. We lost to the better team, no doubt. But we had our chances to win that game. We had an amazing team. Everyone in Holland hoped it would finally be our time.
“When I got back to Real Madrid, Jose Mourinho had arrived. He said to me, ‘Rafa, if a club comes for you, you can leave’.
“On the last day of the transfer window, I was with the national team. The deadline was 6 pm and at 5.30 pm I got a call from my agent. ‘Tottenham want you on loan’.
“I said, ‘No, no loan. I either go full-time or I stay in Madrid’. Twenty minutes later, I got the call. It was a done deal.
“I stayed one week with the national team and then I went to Tottenham. I had a couple of training sessions, then two days later I was starting against West Brom away.”
Van der Vaart quickly became part of an infamous Spurs midfield that managed to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League on their first-ever try.
The former Dutch international even claimed that the Tottenham side was the best team he ever played in, including Los Blancos.
Van der Vaart added: “You know, it was the best club team I ever played in. I like attacking football and it was perfect.
“Look, I played at Real Madrid. They had fantastic players but we did not click as a team. Spurs always felt like a family. From the first day, it felt like I was with my brothers.
“Great players, technique, pace, good defence. We had everything. That is why I played like I did. It inspired me.
“The Premier League is the strongest in the world, but in 90 per cent of games, we were the better team. We always had the ball.
“It’s a pity we didn’t win something. We deserved to.”
Spurs Web Opinion
The team we had in the 2011-12 season is often underestimated even by Spurs fans. Even though we may have finished fourth that season and ultimately missed out on the Champions League qualification due to Chelsea winning the competition, we were the comfortably the best team in the league until February. If not for a late collapse that season, perhaps Redknapp would have kept his job and Van der Vaart would have stayed on for another season or two.
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