Ten years on from Tottenham’s surprise Champions League run in 2010/11, The Athletic have talked to some of the Spurs players and coaching staff involved in the journey to relive what was a memorable run to the quarter-final.
One of the revelations made in the article is that Gareth Bale’s sensational second half hat-trick against Inter Milan would have never happened if Harry Redknapp had taken Tim Sherwood’s advice.
Les Ferdinand, who was part of the coaching staff at Spurs along with Sherwood, revealed that the former Spurs and Blackburn midfielder told Redknapp to take Bale off at half-time and rest him for the weekend.
Spurs were one man down and trailing 4-0 at half-time and looked to be at the end of a drubbing before Bale put in a terrific second-half display to restore Tottenham’s pride and catapult his name to stardom.
Speaking about that night, Ferdinand said: “I remember very clearly we came down from the stands where we’d been watching the game, and Tim said, ‘’Harry you might as well save him for the weekend, we’ve got a game coming up (at home against Everton) that’s going to be more important’.
“I always remember Harry saying something like, ‘You’re crazy, he’s our best player’. We were all thinking, ‘We’re 4-0 down, what do you do? Do you shore it up? Do you take Gareth off? Harry went, ‘Nah, nah, I’m leaving him’.
“After that discussion between the coaches and Harry, we went around all the players giving instructions. When you’re 4-0 down at half-time you always just say, ‘Win this half. Win this half, whatever the scoreline is, win this half so it doesn’t turn into a rout’.
“To be honest looking around the changing rooms, you say the right things but I’m not sure everyone was turned in. They were probably thinking, we’d be happy to draw it!
“At 4-0 down it was looking like it could be six or seven. But Gareth was absolutely sensational. We always knew Gareth had it in him to put out performances like that. He was just growing and growing and growing in confidence. And you’ll always have one night in your career when you’ll think what was the one night that really made me. And he’ll look back on that night in that way.
“Maicon was seen as the best right-back in the world at the time, but in that second half there was no one on the planet that would have stopped Gareth Bale.”
When asked why he did not listen to Sherwood’s advice and take Bale off, Redknapp said: “I just thought we needed to keep some kind of threat of a counter-attack. It didn’t enter my mind to take him off really. He’s such an amazing player.
“I just said to the boys, ‘We’re playing for our pride lads, we don’t want to get smashed up. The whole world’s looking at the game, let’s go out and put in a second-half performance, let’s give it a go’. And that’s what we did.”
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