For all the talk about Tottenham’s first trophyless decade since the 1940s, it’s hard to deny that it’s been one hell of a period down at N17.
A 10-year period that started with Harry Redknapp ends with Jose Mourinho, one that started with Peter Crouch ends with Harry Kane, a decade that started at a typically 80s shoebox stadium ends at the world’s finest.
Stick that in yer trophy cabinet.
A decade draped in Tim Sherwood’s gilets, Mauricio Pochettino’s lemons, Willian’s medicals and Paulo Dybala’s image rights comes to an end, so let’s recap the finest possible XI of players to actually wear lilywhite in the 2010s.
Goalkeepers & Defenders
Hugo Lloris (GK): Now known as the clown who dislocates his own elbow trying to catch a cross, the club captain was undisputedly Spurs’ finest goalkeeper of this era. If choosing to move to White Hart Lane in 2012 wasn’t surprising enough, opting to stay following Sherwood’s reign of terror was a real soap opera twist.
Kyle Walker (RB): Go back to 2013 and tell people that Walker would become the world’s most expensive right-back in the next four years and you’d be carted out of town in a wheelbarrow. His rise to the top can’t be understated considering he simply couldn’t defend upon Pochettino’s arrival, and turned into the complete defender by the time he earned his move to Manchester City – a move which still irks Spurs fans to this day, often seen as one of the few players who would never leave.
Toby Alderweireld (CB): At his peak, the Belgian was a top three defender in the world, and fans of a club known for their lackadaisical defending (Google ‘lackadaisical’ if you don’t believe me) became enamoured with just how brilliant a player Toby Alderweireld has been. Never the quickest, never the strongest, never the tallest, but you’d have bet your life on him robbing someone of the ball and pinging it across field effortlessly every single week.
Jan Vertonghen (CB): Tottenham’s original Belgian centre-back fell under the radar a little when his compatriot arrived, but Vertonghen’s consistency this decade has been as impressive as anyone on this list or in any other team of the decade. Not bad for a man who ‘can’t defend’, according to supply teacher Tim Sherwood.
Danny Rose (LB): The Arsenal debut goal, the catastrophic fall, the Herculean rise, the accidental red hair, the interview with The Sun, the beer-drinking in Amsterdam – what a decade it’s been for Danny Rose. At his worst a pub player, at his best a world class defender, and seldom in between even today.
Luka Modric (CM): While the incredulity over Walker’s career path is almost a certainty, no Tottenham fan would be surprised to learn back in the day that Luka Modric would become a Ballon d’Or winner. Heading down to the Lane to watch the little Croatian do his thing was pure joy, and was the perfect man to lead by example in Harry Redknapp’s tenure.
Mousa Dembele (CM): If Mousa Dembele had peaked at a younger age or wasn’t made of glass, then he wouldn’t have been at the club for anywhere near as long as he was. When Spurs players were asked who the best at the club was circa 2017, the answer was always Dembele – ‘you just can’t get the ball off him’. Where Modric saw 50-yard passes, the Belgian saw 50-yard dribbles, completely dominating the likes of N’Golo Kante, Sami Khedira, Miralem Pjanic, Paul Pogba, and literally any midfielder at Arsenal.
Christian Eriksen (AM): His quiet nature and recent form clouds the fact that Christian Eriksen was the second best (and at times even the best) Spurs player of his generation, and probably one of the top ten in the club’s history in terms of pure ability. A surprisingly hard worker, clinical playmaker and clutch goalscorer, the Dane is within his rights to be forcing a move in search of a wage beyond his current £75,000-a-week deal, frankly one of the most ludicrous contracts in recent times.
Gareth Bale (RW): For fans new to the sport, it would seem impossible that this decade began with Gareth Bale being a Tottenham outcast who was nearly shipped out to Birmingham or Nottingham Forest. The tearing down of Maicon was one of the best displays White Hart Lane ever saw, and his 2012/13 season where he managed to score a late winner from 30 yards for 46 weeks in a row remains one of YouTube’s greatest compilations. No one can begrudge his then-world record move to Real Madrid, where he rightfully belongs.
Harry Kane (ST): Simply the best player in Spurs’ history yet to win a trophy and it’s not even close – and a top five player in the club’s history. 179 goals in 272 appearances ain’t bad for a guy who was expected to spend his career at Millwall.
Son Heung-min (LW): The final spot in this team was a toss-up between the South Korean and Dele Alli, with the former edging it because, as the decade closes, there probably isn’t a team in world football that he doesn’t start for. Carrying a knackered Spurs side on his back to the Champions League final in the absence of Kane a similarly awesome achievement.
Honourable mentions: Emmanuel Adebayor, Dele Alli, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Peter Crouch, Ben Davies, Jermain Defoe, Eric Dier, Ledley King, Erik Lamela, Aaron Lennon, Lucas Moura, Scott Parker, Davinson Sanchez, Sandro, Rafael van der Vaart, Victor Wanyama, Harry Winks.