The 10 best Tottenham players of the Premier League era
7. Luka Modric
He deserved to a play on a stage that Tottenham couldn't give him, but his attempts to manufacture a move put an ugly frame on a beautiful four years
The notion of a player "being worth the entrance fee alone" sounds quant and archaic now, not to mention highly unrealistic. Even in this age, though, Modric never shortchanged anybody. The world now sees him for what he is, being the heart of a Real Madrid midfield that has won two European Cups, but those soft feet and that tenacious heart are nothing new.
The very best make football look easy and that's the defining memory of Modric: he could have scored more goals and he should have occasionally been more aggressively with the ball, but didn't he make it all look so simple? His outside-of-the-right-foot pass remains one of the prettiest sights in the sport, but even his more mundane actions - the twists out of tackles, the swivels away from pressure - looked effortless.
It ended badly. He deserved to a play on a stage that Tottenham couldn't give him, but his attempts to manufacture a move put an ugly frame on a beautiful four years. Nevertheless, Modric was an artist with the ball at his feet and he represented all the spritely joy which is left in the game. What a privilege he was to watch.
6. Darren Anderton
He had his frailties and some of his best performances did come in an England shirt, but Anderton could play
Anderton quite clearly resents his reputation as an injury-prone player. Justifiably so: his 299 Premier League appearances is a Tottenham record and, barring some protracted difficulties in the late 1990s, he was on the pitch far more often than is commonly assumed.
But, more pertinently, that "sicknote” tag unjustly tarnishes the memory of what a good player he was. In his era, the only right foot which seemed to matter was David Beckham's, but Anderton could be just as cultured. And just as deadly: his goal at St James' Park, rifled past the late Pavel Srnicek, is shockingly under-referenced, and his simmering drive against Leeds at White Hart Lane remains one of the best goals the ground has ever seen.
He had his frailties and some of his best performances did come in an England shirt, but Anderton could play and he was frequently effective in a side which was often - respectfully - not very good at all. Perhaps he was the wrong player, in the wrong place, at the wrong time? There’s no greater crime than fragility in British football and Anderton, with his floppy hair and leggy gait, was possibly too subtle a talent. He’s rarely mentioned now, which is shame, but he was one of the best players in the country at his best and those who watched will know what they saw.
5. Robbie Keane
His 122 goals puts him 10th on the club's all-time list and only Teddy Sheringham has scored more Premier League goals (91)
He's the butt of jokes now and, no, he never seemed to play for a club he hadn't supported as a boy. Being a Tottenham player did mean something to him, though, because the pictures at the end of the 2008 League Cup final don't lie.
When he signed in 2002, he had already played for four different clubs and was developing a reputation for transience. Two years at Wolves, one at Coventry, six months at Inter and a couple of seasons at Leeds United; Keane was a man without a flag before arriving at White Hart Lane.
Over the next six years, he not only acquired a solid identity, he also became quickly aligned with the club's personality. Just as they would spent most of the next decade climbing the table and trying to break into the top four, he too would rally against the perception that he wasn't quite good enough for that level. They raged together.
Keane was an emotional character and his Tottenham career coincided with a point in the game's history when practiced indifference was becoming the norm. He played like he cared and that was infectious. His 122 goals puts him 10th on the club's all-time list and only Teddy Sheringham has scored more Premier League goals (91) but, while significant, that's only loosely descriptive.
Keane was part of the initial resurgence in the new millennium and his career was intertwined with an optimism that hadn't existed for some time. Perhaps that unjustly garnishes his legacy, but football is supposed to be about hope and aspiration, rather than just records, and he brought both over a long period of time.