"I can't believe I rejected Spurs for this."
Those life lessons have proved very useful through the years, especially when dealing with Spurs and that unholy time of year called the Transfer Window. For years we have had to deal with tantalising eye contact, a flash of leg, the scent of possibility, before it comes crashing down around us.
At Tottenham there have been plenty who have got away, but who are my personal Players That Got Away?
Please note I am only using the players where there was some shred of evidence of them joining us!!
Rivaldo From Barcelona 2002
The Brazilian may look like an extra from Star Trek and be prone to faking a ball to the face, but there is no denying his class. In 2002/03 when Spurs were in the grip of Glenn Hoddle’s Ačimovič/Bunjevčević era, the chance to sign Rivaldo was very close. Unfortunately though, the dome shaped forehead genius chose AC Milan, however when that move fell foul, he sought out Spurs once more:
“Maybe the Tottenham offer can be renewed again.”
It never was. Instead of having a Rivaldo, we all went on to worship an Irish/Brazilian in the form of the Ginger Pele.
It was a crushing disappointment.
Andriy Shevchenko From AC Milan 2001
In 2001 the impossible nearly happened.
“Andriy’s situation at Milan is not the best and definitely he wishes to play with Sergei” said Sandor Varga, Sergei Rebrov’s agent.
The most complete forward since Marco Van Basten wanted to be reunited to with his Dynamo Kiev striking partner £16 million flop Rebrov at Spurs. Even 12 years later, the thought of Sheva at Spurs still gets me excited.
It was an unbelievable story, made even more so by the rumours that Milan were willing to part with Sheva, as long as Steffen Iversen went the other way. Looking back this is truly one of those moments where the course of our history could have been changed, it wasn’t…well it was, but not for the better.
In came Gus Poyet and a raft of old pros and out went a captain centre-back now referred to as Judas’s evil twin.
Marco Simone From AC Milan 1997
As an Anglo-Italian I have wanted a decent player from the boot to turn up to White Hart Lane for many years. To date we have had the joy of watching Nicola Berti, Paolo Tramezzani and Carlo Cudicini, not a great return for a country with such a proud football history.
In 1997 we nearly set a precedent with the attempted signing of Simone. He may have only be a sub in a great Milan team, but his goals to game ratio was decent, he had a lot of flair and played football the right way. When the news reached me I spent most of the afternoon ringing Club-Call, then later that month grounded after racking up a monstrous phone bill.
Simone had the chance of joining Spurs, but turned us down for pre Arab PSG. The Italian said:
“I had to choose between Barcelona, Liverpool, Spurs, Bayern Munich, Monaco and Paris St Germain. It was a very difficult decision.”
It must have been.
Mark Van Bommel From PSV Eindhoven 2004
At Spurs we are always crying out for that one player to complete us. Today it’s a striker, tomorrow probably a left-back but back in 2004 it was a midfield enforcer. Not just any enforcer, a central midfielder who could tackle, rough up the opposition but also pass and shoot. We still love Steffen Freund, but would he get in anyone’s dream team?
Therefore when Van Bommel became available, my heart skipped. Here was a player who encompassed everything good about a central midfielder, to make the match even sweeter; he had scored a thunder strike at WHL a couple of years earlier in an England v Holland friendly.
The Dutchman said:
“I know Frank Arnesen and Martin Jol very well, and I really hope something will happen. Spurs are a big club, a sleeping giant, and I want to join them” he told the Daily Mirror.
After that quote he tiptoed out of the room whilst Spurs, Frank and Martin were sleeping and joined Barcelona, giants who were very much awake.
Andrey Arshavin From Zenit St Petersburg 2008
Its 2008 and the world had just witnessed Spain clinch the Euro’s with a new football phenomenon called Tiki-Taka, but the undoubted star of the tournament was little Arshavin.
At Spurs things looked on the up, Juande Ramos had just led the team to the Carling Cup, Luka Modric and David Bentley had signed and the last piece of the jigsaw was supposedly Arshavin.
“When Tottenham made their offer I was sceptical at first, but after Ramos called me personally and told me that he wanted me in his side, the situation changed. I also like the way Tottenham play, so I agreed in principle to join”
Unfortunately, as what happens most times with Spurs, the correct transfer fee never followed and after two points from eight games Ramos was sacked. Arshavin stayed with Zenit for a few more months before he joined Arsenal in January 2009, where after some promising performances faded away.
I still believe though that had we signed him that summer and played him in his favoured number 10 role behind Bent, greatness would have been ours.
Diego Milito From Genoa 2009
Harry Redknapp was looking for that star striker to replace Sandra Bent and help build on what had been a promising first half a season in charge. In Italy Milito playing for lowly Genoa had been scoring goals for fun, even at the advanced age of 29 he was a striker that would have thrived at Spurs.
The prospect of him joining and playing in a team that was developing its own exciting brand of attacking football was enthralling. The striker was also an Argentine, a country with whom Spurs have a great affinity with after the success of Ossie Ardiles, Ricky Villa and… Mauricio Tarrico.
Daniel Levy went to work his unique way to sign the forward; however his tactics were met with a now all too familiar refusal:
“The figure of £10 million that they are offering is ridiculous – for that I wouldn’t give them his ear.”
Milito eventually moved to Inter where under Jose Mourinho his team marched to an historic treble. The Argentine also bagged two goals and the UEFA Man of the Match award in the 2009/10 Champions League Final.
Spurs had missed out on a classy striker, a feeling that we have become all too familiar with in recent days/weeks/months/years.
Roberto Soldado From Valencia 2013