One way for any Tottenham player to get into the hearts of the fans is to perform well against Arsenal.
Rafael Van der Vaart is one player who can attest to that fact, having found the back of the net against Arsenal on four occasions in four league matches.
The Dutchman admitted he particularly enjoyed the two derby matches in his first season at the club – the come-from-behind 3-2 win at the Emirates and the 3-3 draw at White Hart Lane.
Van der Vaart told 90 min: “Arsenal the away game [2010/11] that we were losing 2-0 at half-time and won 3-2 – [I got] two assists, one goal, by the way – and then we played one home game and it ended up a draw, 3-3.
“I scored two times, and the third moment was when I played the ball between the legs of Jack Wilshere twice. That game was maybe one of the best games that I played in my career.
“I had a great night but we needed a win and it ended up 3-3, and that’s also what I think that the fans – Spurs fans – liked to see. Of course, they want to win but they want to see special football.”
The 37-year-old admitted that he was made aware of the significance of Tottenham’s rivalry against Arsenal soon after he arrived at the club.
He said: “When I went to Spurs, I didn’t know much about them, but when I came there I met Alan Dickson – who was the team manager of Tottenham – and he said: ‘Rafa, I don’t care if you f*ck up every game, there’s only one game [that matters]’.”
The former midfielder looked back particularly fondly on the 3-2 win in 2010, with the Lilywhites scoring three second-half goals to pull off a miraculous come back after being 2-0 down at half-time.
Speaking about the game, Van der Vaart said: “I had a really bad night, I was a little bit nervous. Normally I wasn’t that nervous but that game, yeah, it’s important and it’s different.
“When we came back on the pitch (for the second half) and it was a totally different game from minute one and we felt there was something special.
The former Real Madrid star also insisted that the Spurs team he was part of could have achieved a lot more than they did and believes that they should have won the Premier League title.
He added: “You know when we had Luka Modric, Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon, Defoe, Peter Crouch, Pavlyuchenko, Ledley King, Kaboul, Walker.
“It was a Champions League team and when you see all the names, where they are now, you think ‘wow’, it was a miracle that we didn’t win the league.”
Spurs Web Opinion
Some Spurs fans underestimate how good a chance we had of winning the league in 2011/12. After Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor came into the side, we were pretty strong all across the pitch and were dictating games with minimal effort.
The midfield of Parker, Modric and Van der Vaart with Bale and Lennon out wide was formidable for any team to come against. We were the best team in the league until February but we collapsed following the loss at the Etihad and ended up finishing fourth.
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