Rafa van der Vaart


Official SC Padre
May 8, 2005
Rafael van der Vaart exclusive: "Leaving Tottenham was the most stupid decision of my career"

The flying Dutchman scored 28 goals in 77 games during his two-year spell in north London before joining Hamburg in 2012

As his contract ticked towards its expiry date at Hamburg last season, Rafael van der Vaart's love for the game began to wilt.

The Dutchman has always erred on the side of 'luxury player' and the lack of possession and the frequent relegation scraps in the Bundesliga were beginning to weigh him down.

All the 32-year-old’s ever wanted to do is have fun playing football; without that enjoyment, he threatens, he would quit the game.

During those protracted, dim winter nights in Germany, he allowed his mind to wander to a time when he was relishing his profession.

"I always used to go the The Live Room in Barnet with Robbie Keane [after Tottenham matches], I still have photos from there actually," he says, laughing, as he remembers pulling pints at Keane's leaving bash.

He was still living on a caravan park with his family when he made his debut as a 17-year-old for Ajax, a club he won two Eredivisie titles with, and he was presented at the Bernabeu in front of 20,000 frenzied Madrid supporters.

He's been capped over 100 times by Holland and he played in the 2010 World Cup final, but it's those evenings in The Live Room and his two years at White Hart Lane where his memory is often drawn.

"Because I didn't have a contract [this summer] I almost tried to come back [to Spurs], then Betis came and I decided to come to Betis, but Tottenham was always special," he tells Mirror Football at the Seville-based club's Luis del Sol training ground.

"But if [Spurs] had wanted me, I would have gone [back]. But Betis came and the decision was quite quick: Betis."

The two years Van der Vaart spent in North London, he is all too keen to offer, were the best of his career. It begs the question, why did he leave?

"It was a little to do with everything," he continues in the 40 degree heat gripping the south of Spain.

"It was private things, but also when what's his name [Andre Villas-Boas] came he said to me 'you're not my number one' and I had played two years, like, unbelievable, so for me it was really strange that he said that to me. So then I said, well, it's better to leave and that is what happened.

"It was a stupid decision, the most stupid in my career to leave Tottenham. I absolutely regret it because it was the best two years in my football life.

"When you see that team, when you have [Gareth] Bale, [Luka] Modric, me, [Aaron] Lennon... it was an unbelievable team. I think every game we played we were the better side. We had a lot of possession and a lot of fun with each other.

"And Harry [Redknapp] — he was like your dad. I would give everything for that man; I was really sad when he left. I think the England job would have been the best job for him and also for England."

Shortly after his Real Betis unveiling, where he was presented alongside his Spanish grandma, Dolores, who lives 80 miles south of Seville, an article in another national newspaper put it that his his choosy, shirt-out swagger and brio has too often been a square peg in a round hole.

"I don't think so," he replies when this is put to him. "Football changes, of course, you see it everywhere. The typical No.10, maybe there are only a few left because the majority of teams don't play with a No.10.

"Maybe it was easier to play [like me] 10 years back, but I also played at that time. I always try to play my own game, I won't change my style of playing and I hope I can show that again here at Betis.

"No.10 was always my best position, but I think now I could also play [this season] like a No.6, in front [of the defence] and build the play from deeper."

Van der Vaart turned down offers from Ajax and MLS side Kansas City to sign for Real Betis, citing a three-year deal as the clincher.

However, he also deemed La Liga a good home because he's anxious to be part of the Holland squad which he hopes will form part of next summer's 24-team European Championships in France.

To enter into Danny Blind’s plans, though, he will have to recapture some of the swagger that made him such a hit at Tottenham when the new season kicks off at the Benito Villamarin against Villarreal on August 23.

There can be no doubts that he feels ready to take on the challenge in a country where he fills his skill-set best acclimatises, but nagging doubts persist over whether he’s really accomplished as much in his career as he perhaps should or could have.

After three unsatisfying years at Hamburg, he’s at least hoping that under Betis’ attacking boss Pepe Mel he can extract some joy from the game once again — just like he did at Tottenham.

Source: http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/rafael-van-der-vaart-exclusive-6113007



Transfer Forum Emperor
Jan 6, 2013
I love you Rafa. I kind of knew he would want to rejoin us after leaving Hamburg and part of me would say yes immediately but from what I've read, ultimately, he wouldn't be able to play in our system so even if he was an amazing mentor, it just wouldn't work.

I hate AVB even more now.


Reasonably priced
Jan 13, 2010
Harry Redknapp On Van Der Vaart (01-09-10)

Rafael Van der Vart's Introduction at Tottenham - 9-Sep-10



Well-Known Member
Apr 5, 2013
I love you Rafa. I kind of knew he would want to rejoin us after leaving Hamburg and part of me would say yes immediately but from what I've read, ultimately, he wouldn't be able to play in our system so even if he was an amazing mentor, it just wouldn't work.

I hate AVB even more now.
I would still have taken him as an impact sub and squad player to share his quality and experience with the youth

And yes - seriously fuck AVB

Spurger King

can't smile without glue
Jul 22, 2008
AVB ripped apart the best team we'd had in decades, then lumbered us with a bunch of useless twats that we're still struggling to get rid of.

I supported Levy's decision to bring in AVB as I thought he was a young and ambitious manager with a clear plan, but looking back....what a clusterfuck.


Night watchman
Jan 14, 2004
What a team that was. Makes you wonder how good they could have been if Ledley had been 100% and Berbatov had stayed.


SC Supporter
Sep 28, 2004
Sad really. What a player, so exciting to watch. As he mentioned, himself, Bale, Modric, Lennon etc, they were so exciting to watch. I don't know how we didn't make CL again or win something, that was the best Spurs team I've seen in my life time.


Well-Known Member
Apr 9, 2004
Despite only being here a short time, my favourite player I have ever watched in a spurs shirt.
He just 'gets it' his passion etc in the Derby games against arsenal, the celebration when he scored against Inter at the lane..

I would call in sick now, and drive to whichever airport he needed picking up from to bring him back


Well-Known Member
Jul 28, 2012
i think there are a lot of regrets from that time starting with Harry dropping the fricken ball when England came calling or at least he thought they were.

He didnt realise that the team was the best team he would ever manage and that he was probably the key to holding it all together. As soon as he left and AVB came in it all went to shit for a lot of reasons that were not necessarily all AVB's fault. But it had all fallen apart by then.

But what a team Harry and you fuckin' blew it mate! Who knows how far that side could have got the season following.


I'm SUPER cereal.
Nov 18, 2007
All of a sudden Harry saying "they've never had it so good..." really is too true.

Fantastic team. I miss them all. :(