Been thinking about this one for a while and think I have managed to pick my top 10 Tottenham players since the formation of the Premier League. Not all of you will agree but feel free to comment on whoever you think should be in the list. I am basing my 10 players on the players influence during their time at the club and their long lasting memories that they have left us with.
#10 Gary Mabbutt
With Spurs, he won the Uefa Cup in 1984 and the Fa Cup in 1991 (as captain). In the 1987 FA Cup final against Coventry City, Mabbutt had an eventful game where he scored Spurs’ second goal to put them 2-1 up but, after Coventry had equalised to force extra time, he scored an own goal to give Coventry a 3-2 win.
He suffered a broken leg on the opening day of the 1996-97 season and did not return until the following season, after which he retired from playing after 16 years at White Hart Lane By this stage, he was the club’s longest-serving player. His final appearance for the club came against Southampton on the last day of the 1997-98 season.
Gary Mabbutt has got to be one of the most honest,decent blokes to play the modern game, such a true gentleman who will always be remembered especially for his clash with Fashanu.
Mabbutt comes in at number 10 on my list, you could argue deserves to be higher but that’s the beauty of debate, however he’s not the only defender in my top 10
#9 Dimitar Berbatov
Signed from Bayer Leverkusen in 2006 for £10.9m Berbatov become on of the few truely “class” players to grace a Tottenham team. Berbatov scored his first competitive Tottenham goal two minutes into his home debut in the Premiership game against Sheffield United at White Hart Lane. He built up a rewarding partnership with Robbie Keane in the UEFA Cup, until Spurs’ departure to Sevilla in the quarter-finals, and, despite Martin Jol’s rotation of his strikers, Berbatov firmly established himself as the first choice forward at the club. He scored five goals in four games during the group stage of the UEFA Cup, with his performances earning two man-of-the-match awards in the group stages against Besiktas and Club Brugge.
Despite his good form in European competition, Berbatov took a while to adapt to the Premiership. However, he soon began to regain the league form he had shown at Leverkusen with an excellent performance against Wigan Athletic, scoring one and creating the other two in a 3–1 win. On 9 December 2006, Berbatov scored his first Premiership brace for Spurs in a 5–1 victory for his side against Charlton Athletic. Berbatov came on as a second half substitute against Fulham in the FA Cup to score his first two goals in the competition. Berbatov scored his first away goal in the Premiership at Goodison Park against Everton, a first-time shot from around the penalty spot after an Aaron Lennon cross. Spurs went on to win the match 2–1.
Berbatov and Spurs team-mate Robbie Keane were named joint winners of the Premier League Player of the Month award for April, becoming the first players to share the award since Arsenal’s Dennis Bergkamp and Edu, jointly claimed the award back in February 2004. He scored the 100th goal of Tottenham’s 2006–07 season with the first goal of a 2–0 victory over Charlton Athletic on 7 May 2007.
Berbatov is also one of the few people to have two goals included in the BBC’s goal of the month competition shortlist, with his sublime efforts against Wigan Athletic and Middlesbrough, both being included. Berbatov ended the 2006–07 season with 12 goals in 33 appearances in the Premier League, and also chipping in with 11 assists.
His first Spurs Premier League hat-trick came on 29 December 2007 after he bagged four goals in an incredible 6–4 win against Reading.
Berbatov played in his first cup final for Tottenham on 24 February 2008 in the Football League Cup at Wembley Stadium against Chelsea in which he scored an equalising penalty. Tottenham went on to win the game 2–1 after extra time, with Berbatov collecting his first trophy in English football. On 9 March, Berbatov scored a brace of headers in the 4–0 demolition of West Ham United.
This took his Premier League tally of goals for the season to twelve, which was equal to his 2007 league total. He ended the season with 15 league goals and an identical overall record of 23 goals and 11 assists in all competitions. He again scored Spurs’ 100th goal of the season in this campaign, hitting the opener in the 1–1 draw at Wigan on 19 April.
Berbatov left Spurs in 2008 to join champions Manchester United for over £30m. He left the club on bad terms and tarnished his repuation with the fans, and had he stayed longer would probably have ranked higher in the list.
#8 Aaron Lennon
With Leeds suffering financial difficulties, Lennon made a £1 million move to Tottenham Hotspur in early June 2005 and his Spurs debut came a couple of months later in an August defeat against Chelsea. On 18 March 2006, Lennon scored his first Premier League goal in Tottenham’s 2–0 victory over Birmingham City at St. Andrew’s, early in the second half.
He was nominated by fellow Premiership players for the PFA Young Player of the Year for the 2005–06 season, and subsequently again in the 2006–07 season. The awards ultimately went to Wayne Rooney, and to Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United.
Lennon signed a new 5 ½ year deal worth £20,000 a week with Tottenham on 8 January 2007, which will keep him at the club until 2012. He signed an improved deal in March 2009 which contracts him to Spurs until 2014. For the third successive year, in the 2008–09 season, he was nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year. The award was ultimately awarded to Aston Villa’s Ashley Young. Lennon also won both the Tottenham Hotspur ‘Player of the Season’ and the ‘Young Player of the Season’ award in the 2008–09 season.
The lightning winger was named the supporters’ Player of the Season for 2008–09. He terrorised left-backs up and down the country during his 47 games in all competitions, earning a new five-year contract at the Club in March 2009 as well as a recall to the England senior squad the same week. Aaron also scored five goals during the campaign, including a memorable last minute equaliser during a 4–4 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in October 2008.
His goals early in the 2009–10 season – against West Ham at Upton Park, and Birmingham City – kept Tottenham at the top of the league table, with four successive wins, their best start to a league season since the 1960–61 season.
Lennon has just returned from the 2010 World Cup with England and although not really impressing will be a vital player for us next season. Lennon is probably the quickest winger I can remember being at the club in the last 20 years, often teams have to double up on him to keep him quiet.
#7 Robbie Keane
Signed from Leeds in 2002 Robbie became an instant hit, his overall record for Premiership goals for Spurs is 91 goals in 231 games. In the 2003–04 season, Spurs battled with relegation, but Keane’s goals played a major part in helping secure Tottenham’s Premier League status. A hat-trick against Wolves and a last minute penalty to equalise in the North London derby against Arsenal were highlights as Keane once again ended the season as Tottenham’s top scorer with 16 goals.
His third season, 2004–05, was more frustrating. Despite finishing with his highest return of goals in a season for Tottenham, 17, he played second-fiddle to the likes of Jermain Defoe, Fredi Kanoute and Mido for much of the season. The frustration culminated in Keane storming from the dugout towards the end of a game against Birmingham City in April 2005 after all the substitutes had been used, meaning he would not get a chance to appear. He was fined £10,000 and forced to train with the reserves after the outburst and his future at the club was thrown into doubt.
He knuckled down after this incident but the 2005–06 season started as the previous one had ended, with Defoe being preferred to partner Mido in Tottenham’s strikeforce. However, Defoe’s strike-rate continued to disappoint and Keane’s persistence paid off in November when manager Martin Jol eventually gave Keane a chance to replace Defoe and stake his claim.
He grabbed the chance with both hands, started playing some of the best football of his career and by March had overtaken Mido as the top goalscorer at the club. Keane went on to finish the season with 16 league goals — making him the Premier League’s joint fourth top goalscorer that season. He had also been made the vice-captain, taking the captaincy on occasions when Ledley King was not available.
Keane had a slow start to the 2006–07 season which was further set back by a knee ligament injury that Keane suffered against Middlesbrough on 5 December 2006. His coming back from injury marked the beginning of a return to form and a dynamic partnership with Dimitar Berbatov. Keane and Berbatov were jointly awarded the FA Premier League’s Player of the Month Award for April 2007. Keane finished the season with a total of 22 goals in all competitions – the highest ever season tally of his career – scoring 15 goals in his last 15 appearances of the season.
Keane started in his 200th appearance for Tottenham in the final game of the 2006–07 season against Manchester City scoring the first goal in a 2–1 victory that saw Tottenham secure fifth place in the league.
He signed a new five year contract with Tottenham on 28 May 2007. On 26 December 2007 he became the thirteenth player in the history of the league to score 100 Premier League goals. 2007 proved to be a remarkable year for the striker with a total of 31 goals and 13 assists from just 40 starts. His tally of 19 league goals in the calendar year was the highest of any player in the Premier League throughout 2007.
He scored his 100th competitive goal for Tottenham in the 2–0 win against Sunderland on 19 January 2008. He is the fifteenth Tottenham player to achieve this feat. On 24 February 2008 he won his first senior honour as a player as his Tottenham side won the first League Cup Final to be played at the new Wembley Stadium, beating Chelsea 2–1 after extra time. On 12 April 2008 Keane made his 250th appearance for Spurs in the 1–1 draw with Middlesbrough. Keane finished the 2007–08 season equal top scorer for Spurs with Berbatov, with 23 goals in all competitions. His 15 Premier League goals making him the first Spurs player to score double figures in the Premier League in 6 consecutive seasons. Keane in his Tottenham career won the player of year three times (2003–04, 2005–06 and 2007–08); the first player to do so.
His consistency and strike-rate attracted the attention of Premier League rivals Liverpool. Despite initial resistance to the sale and accusations of misconduct, Tottenham agreed to a £20.3 million deal for the player. Keane later rejoiend Tottenham and at this current date is still on the clubs books, he claims he wants to fight for his place this coming season but it would be no suprise to see him leave the club again after spending half of last season on loan at Celtic.
Still however a Tottenham legend always giving 100% whenever on this pitch.
Modrić agreed transfer terms with Tottenham Hotspur on 26 April 2008. He was the first of many summer signings for coach Juande Ramos, and also the Premier League’s first summer transfer. After signing a 6 year contract from summer 2008, Tottenham confirmed that the total fee paid was £16.5 million, equalling the club’s record fee set by Darren Bent’s move in 2007.
Modrić made his debut for Tottenham on 28 July 2008 in a pre-season friendly against Norwich City. He played 45 minutes at Carrow Road during the 5–1 victory. His competitive debut was on 16 August in the 2–1 defeat by Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium in Spurs’ first match of the 2008–09 Premier League season.
Initially, Spurs used him as a deep-lying playmaker in central midfield, usually alongside Jermaine Jenas, to utilise his passing range, vision and creativity to optimum effect. However, then-manager Juande Ramos wasted his talents, deploying him in an extremely deep defensive midfield role which his slight frame was not physically suited to. For his former club and his country, his greatest success had come in a more advanced, attacking left-sided role. Playing him out of position limited his influence, and was an instance of the poor managerial judgement which led to Ramos’ sacking and Tottenham’s terrible start to the season. Modrić also suffered from a niggling knee injury early in his Spurs career and he had to endure being labelled as a “light-weight” by sections of the media. This coincided with his poor form, knocking his confidence and making him even less effective, leading to concerns both for himself and Croatia manager Slaven Bilić.
However, with the appointment of current Spurs manager Harry Redknapp, Modrić was given a more familiar advanced attacking role as a central or left-sided midfielder, which had been a problem position for Tottenham in the past. In the first few months of the 2008–2009 season until the 2009 January transfer window, Modrić assumed a far more advanced role as a second striker behind one of Tottenham’s two recognised first-team strikers, Roman Pavlyuchenko or Darren Bent. This allowed Modric to have a far more attacking influence on the team and also utilise his footballing brain more productively, as in the thrilling 4–4 draw with arch rivals Arsenal on 26 October 2008. Modrić’s impact in this position was well demonstrated with Tottenham’s 4th and equalising goal when he collected the ball on his chest from Tom Huddlestone, and after a few controlled touches, unleashed a long-range half-volley which, courtesy of a deflection, hit the post and set up Aaron Lennon for a tap-in. Since this performance, his form improved considerably for Spurs, coinciding with his club’s vastly improved form in the league. Redknapp recognised Modrić’s value to his side, setting out plans to shape his new team around the Croatian playmaker.
During the January 2009 transfer window, Tottenham re-signed strikers Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane, allowing Modrić to return to midfield while retaining his advanced attacking role as a roaming left-sided midfielder. Spurs’ other major signing, tough-tackling Honduran midfielder Wilson Palacios, bolstered Spurs’ central midfield and gave Modrić more freedom in attack, while Palacios operated as a more defensive midfielder. Using him in his former position from Dinamo Zagreb days made him even more effective with inspirational performances against Hull City, Stoke and most notably, a match-winning performance against Chelsea.
Modrić scored his first Tottenham goal in a 2–2 draw against Spartak Moscow during the UEFA Cup group stages on the 18 December 2008. He scored his first Premier League goal against Newcastle United in Spurs’ next match, three days later.
On May 30th 2010, Modrić was awarded with a new 6 year contract, that runs until 2016. Modrić said after the deal; “Tottenham Hotspur gave me my chance in the Premier League and I want to go on to achieve great success here with them. Yes, there have been enquiries from other big clubs, but I have no interest in going anywhere. Last season’s Top 4 finish was an indication of where we are as a Club and I feel I can continue to improve and go on to achieve everything I want to at Spurs”.
If I were to do this list again in a couple of seasons then no doubt Modric would have notched himself up a couple of places in my list. The guy is pure quality and I look forward to watching him for seasons to come
#5 Ledley King
Well do I really need to say much about this guy? We all know what a great captain he has been for us and a great servant for the club since joining as a trainee in 1997. We all know he is one of the best defenders around despite having the knee of a 90 year old woman riddled with arthritis.
Ledders would in my mind be England captain if he was not so unlucky, he has been asked to do a job in midfield and at the back for both club and country in the past and didn’t let us down, in fact David Pleat preffered Ledley playing the holding role in midfield.
King recently signed a two year pay as you play extension which keeps him at the club till 2012 and no doubt Tottenham will be the only club he plays for his whole career.
Harry Redknapp recently spoke out of King’s knee troubles:
Harry Redknapp said of King’s knee injury:
“There’s no cure. There’s no cartilage, nothing to operate on. It’s just bone on bone. So it’s just a question of managing it. It swells up after games and it normally takes seven days to recover but having played on Monday night he’s had less time than usual. He rarely trains, he mostly just goes to the gym to keep himself ticking over. But not running or anything like that. But even if he only plays 20 games a season, he’s worth having because he’s so good we have a much better chance of winning.
No doubt Harry was right because Ledley was inspirational in getting Tottenham to 4th and the Champions League will be a better competition with Ledley in it.
#4 Darren Anderton
Tottenham Hotspur: 1992–2004
After a slow start, Anderton settled at Tottenham, forming part of an exciting attacking trio along with Teddy Sheringham and the young Nick Barmby. Two years later Terry Venables gave Anderton his England debut against Denmark in 1994. Anderton soon became a regular in the national side and turned down a move to Manchester United in the summer of 1995 following an exciting season spent playing with the likes of Jürgen Klinsmann at Tottenham, a decision that he later regretted. Despite missing most of the 1995–96 season through injury, Anderton played an important part in the Euro 96 England team that reached the semi-finals and included compatriots like Paul Gascoigne, Alan Shearer, Steve McManaman and Teddy Sheringham. In the semi final against Germany, the match went to golden goal extra time. Anderton came within inches of putting England into the final when his shot hit the post.
Injuries then limited Anderton’s international appearances considerably. He missed most of the 1997–98 season but was recalled for Glenn Hoddle’s squad for the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, starting on the right wing in the first two matches ahead of an out-of-sorts David Beckham. Hoddle later said in his World Cup Diary that he thought Anderton was equally as good as Beckham at crossing and was a better defender. Hoddle said he had waited 18 months to play Beckham and Anderton together on the right side of midfield. It finally happened as David Batty was dropped and the now-focused Beckham was recalled for the third game against Colombia and played inside of Anderton. Anderton and Beckham were the England heroes as they both scored spectacular goals. The following year Anderton won the League Cup with Tottenham, and signed a new reported £24,000 week contract in March. After being sidelined during Euro 2000 with an Achilles tendon injury, an extended run of fitness saw Anderton vying for a permanent place in the national team again. He played in England’s 1–1 draw away to France in September 2000 and also featured against Italy the following November.
In the summer of 2001 Anderton was heavily linked with a move to Liverpool but he remained at the club and his good form for Glenn Hoddle’s Spurs during the early part of the 2001–02 season earned his first call-up to Sven-Göran Eriksson’s England squad for a friendly against Sweden in November. Anderton was again selected by Eriksson for England’s next game, a friendly against Holland, in February 2002. He would have started the game but was forced to withdraw through injury. One notable statistic about Anderton’s England career is that his last five caps were given to him by five different managers. These were: vs Czech Republic (18/11/98) by Glenn Hoddle, vs France (10/02/99) by Howard Wilkinson, vs France (02/09/00) by Kevin Keegan, vs Italy (15/11/00) by Peter Taylor and vs Sweden (10/11/01) by Sven-Göran Eriksson.
Anderton continued to struggle badly with injuries for the rest of that season, missing out on a World Cup place. That summer the new Leeds United boss Terry Venables tried to recruit Anderton, but he turned down the move out of loyalty to Tottenham. In the summer of 2003 Portsmouth and West Ham made attempts to sign him, but Anderton was not interested. He made a bright start to the 2003/04 season, scoring against Tottenham’s bitter rivals Arsenal. However Hoddle was soon sacked and Spurs were in turmoil. Anderton remained at Tottenham until the summer of 2004. He was keen to remain at the club and was promised a new contract by David Pleat but the club, under the advice of incoming manager Jacques Santini, reneged. In all, he appeared in 364 games for Spurs, scoring 51 goals. Santini went on to last a grand total of 13 games at the club. Anderton has been promised a testimonial but this is yet to materialise.
Although he was labelled “sicknote” Dazza will always be a legend, he done the business whenever he played for Spurs or England and scored some important goals.
#3 Jurgen Klinsmann
I have no doubt that if Klinsmann had played for a longer period at the club that he would have been my #1.
Klinsmann scored a total of 30 Premiership goals for Tottenham in 2 seperate spells in the 90s. His first spell came in 1994/95 where he scored on his debut against Sheffield Wednesday followed by the infamous Klinsmann dive celebration. Klinsmann finished the league season with 21 goals and won the footballer of the year award before his controversial departure to Bayern Munich, much to the disgust of then Spurs chairman Sir Alan Sugar. In a twist of fate Klinsmann returned to the club in the 1998/99 season for a loan spell towards the end of the season where he helped save Tottenham for relegation with 9 goals in 15 games, most noticably 4 goals agaisnt Wimbledon.
Klinsmann was without a doubt one of the best strikers to ever grace the Premiership, it’s just a shame we didn’t get to see more of him. Klinsmann like Mabbutt is another gentleman of football and will always be remembers by us Spurs fan for the great memories. Looking back we were lucky he played for us, he deserved better than an at the time mid table Premiership side.
#2 David Ginola
During a dark and frustrating few years for Tottenham, David Ginloa was our breath of fresh air, we might not have had much in the 90s but we had Ginola and nobody can ever take that away. His runs were amazing and his goals even better.
Tottenham Hostpur signed Ginola in July 1997 for £2.5m, where he was joined by Newcastle team-mate Les Ferdinand. In 1999, he was named PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year, while playing for Tottenham Hotspur. During the 1999/2000 season, Ginola scored one of his most notable goals, when Spurs played Barnsley. Ginola weaved in and out of a number of Barnsley players and finished in the left side of the net. The final score in that match was 4-0 to Spurs. He is still the only player in Premiership history to have won the award whilst at a club who finished the season outside of the top 4. He also won his only English domestic trophy with Spurs, the 1999 League Cup with a 1-0 victory over Leicester City at Wembley Stadium. Ginola is fondly remembered by Spurs fans for his extravagant forward play and personality off the pitch. He played an integral role in their 1999 League Cup win and scoring a long range goal in a 3-1 win against Manchester United in a previous round. The respect and fondness Tottenham fans have for Ginola was shown when he was given one of the biggest cheers on their 125th anniversary when legends were paraded on the pitch. Ginola was inducted into the Tottenham Hostpur Hall of Fame on 11th December 2008.
Ginola was sold to Villa in 2000, the club accepted an offer and although he wanted to stay at Spurs was sold.
#1 Teddy Sheringham
Who else? Sheringham was in a different league to everyone else,nobody since has had the football brain this genius had. He might not have been the quickest with pace but when you think like Teddy then you don’t need to be.
Sheringham, who had supported Tottenham as a boy, had a successful start to his career at the club by being the Premier League’s top goalscorer in its inaugural season, scoring 22 goals (21 with Tottenham and one with Forest). His strike partners at White Hart Lane included Gordon Durie, Ronny Rosenthal, Jürgen Klinsmann and finally Chris Armstrong. In 1993–94, he was Tottenham’s top scorer with 14 Premiership goals but played in just 19 games due to injury and this impacted negatively on Tottenham’s league form. Spurs finished 15th and were not completely safe from relegation until the penultimate game of the season. They have not finished lower than this ever since.
The following season was better, as he helped Spurs finish seventh in the Premiership and reach the semi-final of the FA Cup, just missing out on European football for the 1995–96 season.
Jürgen Klinsmann, who partnered Sheringham during the 1994–95 season, was later quoted as claiming that Sheringham was the most intelligent strike partner he had ever had.
Sheringham was hugely popular with the Tottenham fans and by the mid 1990s was recognised as one of the best strikers in the Premiership. However, despite his prolific strike rate by the end of the 1996–97 season he was 31 years old and had yet to win a major trophy in a career which had so far spanned 15 years; many pundits considered him past his best and likely to finish his career without major honours. In June 1997, Sheringham agreed to join Manchester United in a £3.5million deal.
At the end of the 2000–01 season, Sheringham’s four-year contract at Old Trafford expired. He was facing stiffer competition than ever for the places up front, most of all from United’s new Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy. He refused United’s offer of a 12-month contract and returned to Tottenham on a free transfer as one of new manager Glenn Hoddle’s first signings. In his first season back, Sheringham helped Tottenham to a 9th place finish, their highest in 6 years, and to reach the League Cup final where they lost 2–1 to Blackburn Rovers, with Sheringham being brought down in the penalty area in the last minute for what he believed to be a penalty. 2002–03 brought a similar mid table finish, although Tottenham had topped the Premiership three games into the season. Sheringham made 80 appearances in all competitions for Tottenham in this period, scoring 26 goals.
Sheringham and Clive Allen were inducted into the Tottenham Hotspur Hall of Fame on 8 May 2008.
So there you have it, that’s my top 10 Spurs Premiership players. Remember this is only my view feel free to call me a nobhead below should you disagree with my choices. One player I was going to have but didn’t in the end was Nicky Barmby. I know most of these players are still playing for Tottenham but we have just had our best Premiership season so maybe that tells you we have our best team for years.
And yes I did use the wonder that is wikipedia