Heurelho Gomes, Tottenham
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Heurelho Gomes: Top-four spot between Spurs and Arsenal – not United

| 18.01.2022

Heurelho Gomes made almost 100 appearances in six seasons with Tottenham before joining Watford in 2014 and he gave Ladbrokes an exclusive insight into his time at White Hart Lane.

The Brazilian goalkeeper saw at first hand the emergence of Harry Kane, described his relationship with Harry Redknapp, his memory of securing a place in the Champions League and picked out a surprising name as one of the best players he saw at Spurs.

Gomes, though, started with his thoughts on which team will snap up the fourth Champions League spot at the end of the season.

It’s a two-horse race between Tottenham and Arsenal for fourth spot

It’s so difficult to predict who’ll finish in fourth this season – but I can say I believe West Ham will drop out of it. Other than that, I think it’s between Tottenham and Arsenal. I don’t see Manchester United being there this year. I don’t know why, but something’s just not quite right at United at the moment. They’re either brilliant, or they play like a mid-table team – there’s no real consistency there.

I don’t understand it. I played against Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United teams many times and they were so hard to beat. I’d go to Old Trafford afraid of what was going to happen. They used to make it a nightmare for any club to take points away from that stadium. In the post-Ferguson world, I’ve been there with Watford and we made them nervous. I never thought that would be the case in my career, especially having experienced the Man United of old.

It makes no sense to me. The club is so big, they have money to invest in the best players in the world, and they’re not challenging for the title? We’re talking about them maybe getting fourth spot? I can’t understand what’s going on there. Tottenham and Arsenal have more chance of finishing in the top four than they do – I never thought I would be saying that about this Arsenal team after the first few games of the season.

Kane made me suffer in Spurs training

I had the pleasure of working with Harry Kane for a few years when he was coming through the ranks at Tottenham, and of course I’d be lying if I said I could always see him going on to become as big a legend as he is today.

But I could always see his potential, especially when it came to finishing – I suffered so much because of him in training. Even from a young age he possessed this phenomenal ability to find the back of the net more often than not, even in training sessions. It’s much easier to spot a player’s potential when they have the focus Harry did at such a young age. He was always trying to do something special with the ball. The way he turned his defenders, how he protected the ball and got his shot away… as a goalkeeper, you could always tell that he was going to cause some serious problems to opposition teams.

But even with that potential, he’s exceeded expectation. He’s gone on to do far more than we imagined he would – and I’m glad for him, because he’s a great guy. You never see any bad news surrounding him, even when he was criticised for trying to leave, he stayed calm and focused out of respect for the club, and that’s why he’ll always be a Spurs legend.

I thought Harry Kane was a goner in the summer

I’m really surprised Harry Kane is still a Tottenham Hotspur player. I thought he was going to leave. He wants more from his career, he wants to be challenging for trophies and that’s understandable. A few years ago the team went really close to closing the gap, but having been so close they now look so distant from those top teams in the division.

Sometimes you watch Spurs play and they’ll match the likes of Man City and Liverpool, but too often they look too much like a mid-table team which is frustrating for fans, especially when you consider the direction they were heading in when Leicester won the title.

When you have a player like Harry Kane in your team, someone looking to achieve things, it’s hard to convince them to stick around – especially when there’s interest from better teams.

Harry Kane, Tottenham, Premier League top scorer odds

I just don’t think there’s enough consistency with Tottenham at the moment. I’m 100% sure Harry wants to achieve big things, but he doesn’t get that guarantee with Spurs. I really thought he was heading to Manchester City last summer. I’m surprised he’s still there.

I’ve seen it happen a couple of times during my time at Tottenham, with the exits of Luka Modric and Gareth Bale. It’s sad for the club, it’s sad for the players that are left behind when you lose your best player. You feel alone. But of course, these players have to look after their own careers.

Kyle Walker is another one. He was playing amazing stuff for Tottenham, but he wanted to challenge at that top level. To be considered a legend at a club, to receive credit for your loyalty is good, but to win things is even better. If you can’t get that guarantee from your current club, then naturally you’re going to look at possible moves.

The good thing I’ll say about these players though, particularly at Tottenham, is that when they’re linked with moves away, they continued to do everything they could to help the club. Supporters cannot say Kane hasn’t given his all for the team – the same for Bale and Modric. That’s a credit to both the players and the club – because it’s not something you see all that much at other top clubs.

Giovani dos Santos was one of the best players I saw at Tottenham

I had the pleasure of playing with some unbelievable players at Tottenham – the obvious ones being Luka Modric and Gareth Bale – especially Bale, because he kept me busy with his shooting practice!

Giovani dos Santos, Tottenham

I’ve seen some great players at that club, but the one I always think about is Giovani dos Santos. He never really had a chance at Tottenham to show what he could do, and I believe it was a bit of a missed opportunity, because he really was an unbelievable player. He could have done so much more for that team.

In fact, when I look at this new-look Tottenham team today, I think Giovani dos Santos would thrive. He could have been someone very, very special in football – it’s a shame Tottenham fans didn’t get to see the best of him.

Working with Redknapp

Working with Harry Redknapp was fantastic for me, personally, particularly in those tough moments – at least the majority of the time. He’s a great motivator and an even better manager.

I’ve only ever had one problem with Harry. I made a mistake in a game where I wasn’t having a great time at the club, and he brought in Brad Friedel and dropped me. Friedel made a mistake in a game against QPR and afterwards, Harry came to me and said he needed me back in the team, because I was the best goalkeeper at the club. I said “I don’t want to play for you anymore”. That was my biggest mistake.

Harry Redknapp

You can’t say things like this to your manager. I said it because I felt that I should have been in the starting line-up much sooner than when he eventually came to me. It annoyed me that it had taken him so long to put me back in the team, so I thought ‘no, I’m not going to play for you anymore.’ I think he was a bit surprised with me, but he respected my opinion. It’s never good when you say that to your manager, though, so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone!

That was the only problem I had with him, because most of the time he was the guy that would always stand beside me and defend me. At the time when he was in charge of Spurs, everybody wanted him. He was the guy. England really wanted him, so he was pretty untouchable. He’d protect anyone at the club. He was such a great motivator, and I’m grateful I had the chance to work with him.

Pain meant I should not have played at Man City on night we qualified for Champions League

I will say, though, that I played so many games early on in my Tottenham career, where I wasn’t 100% fit. It’s not an excuse. I’m not using it to justify my mistakes, but it didn’t help. The biggest mistake I made was playing in those games, but at the time I wanted to do everything I could for my team. The club knew my situation but they wanted me to play, so of course I’m not going to let them down.

A lot of the time you’ll look back on those games where you weren’t 100% fit, and you can kick yourself and think about what you should have done in hindsight, because more often than not those games are the ones you make mistakes in. But there was one occasion in particular which ended up being one of the most special nights in my Tottenham career, and in hindsight it’s probably a game I should have never played in. I had a Grade 3 abductor strain on the night we beat Manchester City at the Etihad to qualify for the Champions League. I couldn’t even kick a ball.

In the previous game, against Bolton, I opened my abductor, and I couldn’t walk all week. I trained for 30 minutes on the day before the Man City game. I played because the club told me they needed me. I could hardly walk, but it was the biggest game of our lives. Winning the game meant we’d qualify for the Champions League, so I took the risk and the rest is history. I actually played really well on that night, too – I made some very big saves. When Peter Crouch scored to win it for us I somehow managed to sprint up and down my penalty area, at the other end of the pitch, but seriously, just a couple of days before I could hardly walk!

Peter Crouch was wrong about why I was crying against Stoke – it had nothing to do with being worried about throw-ins

I loved my time at Tottenham; I faced some difficult moments but also had some of the happiest days of my life with the club. I loved playing behind Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate – they were exceptional defenders. We also had Alan Hutton out at right-back. He was such a good player. He was so funny to play with – because he played out wide he was always so close to the supporters, so whenever we played away from home, every time he went to pick the ball up to take a throw-in, he’d say something to wind someone up. He knew exactly how to wind up fans. I love him. I forgive him for the time he almost broke my ribs…

I remember it was a rainy day and I was coming out to collect a cross. I dived to my right and Alan comes sliding in two-footed – it wasn’t intentional and under normal circumstances he probably wouldn’t have connected with me, but because of the rain he continued to slide straight into me. It was near the beginning of my time at Tottenham, and I ended up playing so many matches carrying that problem.

Peter Crouch, Tottenham

There’s one game fans remember because I was criticised for crying – but people don’t know the reason for that. It was a problem I was having with my ribs. I would get injections all the time to help me through the pain and to play games, and it was a game against Stoke where there were so many balls just flying into the box all afternoon. Peter Crouch said on his podcast that I was crying because of the Stoke players making my day difficult. It wasn’t that, at all – it was because of the sheer pain I was in.

Every time I was trying to collect the ball, someone was catching me in my ribs. I believe on that occasion, on that afternoon, my body just didn’t take to the injections, or I must not have had them – and I cried because of the pain I was in. Peter Crouch thinks the Stoke team made me cry because I was worried about their throw-ins? That’s just not the case at all. You can see the footage. Watch it back, you can see I’m in pain and I’m holding my ribs – and all of this came from that Alan Hutton tackle!

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Author

Warren Barner