A recent piece by The Athletic looked back on Tottenham Hotspur’s surprise Champions League run in the 2010/11 season where the North Londoners made it all the way to the quarter-final in what was their first taste of the competition.
The article features some fascinating interviews with the players in the squad and members of Harry Redknapp’s coaching staff, who reveal what went on behind the scenes during the run.
One of the eye-catching parts of the article was a game in Tottenham’s run that Rafael van der Vaart describes as one ‘he will never forget’.
Surprisingly, however, it is not either of the two clashes against Inter Milan or the victory over AC Milan that the Dutchman picks out but rather the home win against FC Twente in the group stage of the competition.
Twente, who were the current Eredivisie champions at the time, certainly did not come into the game as underdogs, especially considering this was Tottenham’s first-ever Champions League adventure.
Spurs had played out a 2-2 draw at Werder Bremen in their first group match before the Dutch side came to White Hart Lane in what was the club’s first home game in the competition.
Tottenham blew Twente aside 4-1 on the night and that result proved a launching pad for Spurs to go on to have further success.
Speaking about that match, Van der Vaart said: “I will never forget that game. It was so special because it was the first time playing at home in the Champions League for us, and those nights were special.
“Something special when you play during the week. The fans were so excited, we were excited, and we had the absolute feeling that we could mix it with the best teams in Europe.
“FC Twente were at the time really good and in Holland, they were saying, ‘Oh, maybe we have a chance against Tottenham and they’re not that good, blah, blah, blah’. I was really motivated because it was against a club from my country so I wanted to prove them wrong.”
After finding the back of the net and proving a pivotal creative force for the home side in the game, Van der Vaart got sent off late in the match but the damage had been done by that time.
The former Spurs midfielder admitted that the Twente fans chanting ‘You’re sh*t and you know you are’ that night at White Hart Lane motivated him even more.
He added: “They were wrong (smiles). The second yellow card was smart from the defender but maybe I got myself a little bit too fired up to make stupid fouls.”
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