Van der Vaart explains why ex-Spur made his all-time best XI ahead of Ibrahimovic

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Rafael van der Vaart

While the striker partnership Peter Crouch forged with Jermain Defoe for both Tottenham and Portsmouth is still talked about (The News), the one which Crouch forged with Rafael Van der Vaart was equally as effective in North London.

The pair only played together for one season at White Hart Lane after Van der Vaart arrived from Real Madrid in the summer of 2010.

However, they went on to build a great understanding with each other, with the England striker assisting many of the Dutchman’s goals.

It turns out Van der Vaart was so impressed with his former Spurs strike partner that he has named him in his all-time XI ahead of the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Karim Benzema.

In a conversation between the pair on Zoom for The Daily Mail, the former Real Madrid star explained to the England striker about how it was his unselfishness that gave him the nod over others.

When Crouch asked Van der Vaart why he named him ahead of Ibrahimovic, the midfielder said: “It’s simple. I like funny guys, I need to pick one, so I chose you! Ha! No, seriously. Do you remember our first training session?

“You are so tall, but people always under-estimated how good you are with your feet. You surprised me in those first sessions.

“Straight away we had a good connection. My first six goals, you provided nearly all the assists.

“You turned to me once and said, ‘Any chance you can give me an assist?’ We played Everton at home one day. You headed it, it was rolling over the line and I thought, ‘Ah, I’ll just kick this one in!’

“When there is a long ball, sometimes you have to guess. But with you, we would look at each other and we knew what was next. You go there, I move here, the ball will come to me — bang. We scored some great goals together.

“Off the pitch, you were fantastic. You enjoyed every moment of your career and I was the same. These days, I look at things and I see people are so serious. You are not allowed to laugh, you are not allowed to make a joke. I think our generation, we had fun.

“The thing about you is that you are so down to earth. Even if you are not scoring, you are happy for whoever does. I’m the same.

“For me it was important that we won the game, but it didn’t matter who scored. That felt so good. A lot of strikers are so selfish.”

“I played with Cristiano Ronaldo. We won 6-0 at home against Gijon, I scored a hat-trick, but he didn’t score and in the dressing he was so upset! Normally, if that was me and you, we would be drinking beers!”

Reacted to the midfielder’s words, Crouch said: “That’s why we had the connection! Hey, hang on, we had a couple of sulkers, didn’t we?

“Roman Pavlyuchenko and Jermain Defoe were, shall we say, not the most forgiving of players!”

Spurs Web Opinion

I believe both Crouch and Van der Vaart left Spurs earlier than they should have. While one could understand why the England striker was sold with Emmanuel Adebayor coming to Spurs in 2011, it was a poor move on out part to let the Dutchman leave in 2012.

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