The Real Madrid playmaker sealed a deadline day switch to White Hart Lane in 2010 and became a fan favourite in north London, making 77 appearances over two years.
Four goals in as many games against arch-rivals Arsenal endeared the Dutchman to the Lilywhites’ faithful, including one in Spurs’ only win at the Emirates Stadium to date.
But Van der Vaart admits he could have ended up playing for the Gunners instead, had one of his compatriots managed to convince Arsene Wenger to sign him up.
Speaking exclusively in the April 2018 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, the 35-year-old says: “I had several conversations with Robin van Persie, my team-mate on the Dutch side, and he had spoken to Arsenal about me a few times, but I never heard anything. I didn't regret it – joining Spurs was the best thing that happened to me.”
Van der Vaart, who now plays for Midtjylland in Denmark following a short stint at Real Betis, also reveals that he had the opportunity to move to the Premier League much earlier in his career when Liverpool looked to lure him away from his first club, Ajax.
“Gerard Houllier wanted to take me to Liverpool,” he says. “I was flattered, of course, but at the time I wasn’t interested in moving abroad.
“My agent said it would be a good idea to give Houllier a call. He explained that he had talked about me with Michael Owen, who’d said he would be very happy to play with me at Liverpool. It was amazing to hear, but I wanted to stay at Ajax.”
Read the full One-on-One interview with Rafael van der Vaart in the April 2018 issue of FourFourTwo magazine. A best young players special, we speak exclusively to Kylian Mbappe, Ryan Sessegnon, Richarlison, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Justin Kluivert, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Harry Winks and Timo Werner, and meet the people who shaped Marcus Rashford’s flourishing career. Plus, we experience the ‘Israel-Palestine Derby’ between Beitar Jerusalem and Bnei Sakhnin, after Donald Trump poured oil on the flames of an already-heated affair. Order a copy today, and then become a subscriber!
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