Sebastien Bassong says Sunday is ‘one of worst situations to be in’ for Spurs, reveals Harry Redknapp’s suit-soaking aftermath and describes Peter Crouch in three words
Sebastien Bassong made 45 appearances in four seasons with Tottenham between 2009-12 before joining Norwich, the team he helped reach the Premier League in the 2015 Championship play-off final.
Ahead of the launch of the 5-A-Side bet between Spurs and Norwich, the Paris-born Cameroon defender looks back at his time at White Hart Lane and spoke about Sunday’s final game of the season as Antonio Conte’s side look to secure a spot in next season’s Champions League.
Norwich game is a potential banana skin for Spurs
Sunday’s game against Norwich has the potential to be a banana skin for Spurs. Football is so unpredictable, and if there’s one thing Spurs shouldn’t dare to do, it’s be complacent.
People are rightly going to make them favourites to win the game, but they’ve got to go into that game with the same mindset of the FA Cup third round where you’re likely to play a team from a lower division. You’ve got to remain 120% focused and kill the game as early as possible. The longer the game goes on, the more nervous those players are going to become – so if you don’t kill the game early doors, you could be in trouble.
Check out which 5 players Sébastien Bassong thinks are key in the Norwich v Tottenham match! pic.twitter.com/KmQI0EBYTT
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Norwich have got nothing to play for, apart from being a pain for Spurs and annoying a lot of people. But that’s enough motivation for those Norwich players. If I’m in that Norwich team, I’m telling my players to spice things up a bit and give this team a game. Make them work for it. ‘Let’s make things difficult for them just to see what they’re about’.
You know, maybe there are some players in that Norwich team who have an eye on their futures. Maybe they’re being watched by other Premier League teams, so a good game on Sunday might get some of them a move away.
If Spurs score early, I can see Norwich sinking. Because they have nothing to play for, subconsciously they’re not going to be thinking about getting back into it and causing an upset – they’ll just stroll through the game. For Spurs, it’s a simple tactic – start strong and roll them over early doors.
Sunday is actually one of the worst situations you can be in as a Spurs player
This is actually one of the worst situations you can be in as a Spurs player. Look, you’d rather it be in your hands and your control, and on paper you’re playing bottom of the league. But believe me, as long as it’s 0-0, when you’re away from home against a team with nothing to play for, while you’re going for the top four, I mean you can’t even imagine how stressful it becomes. The longer it stays goalless, the more the players will be looking at the clock, looking at the time. You don’t want to know how Arsenal are getting on, but the fans are going to let you know.
It’s so difficult because as focused as you might want to be, at the same time in the back of your mind you’re thinking about how Arsenal are getting on. It’s human nature, curiosity. If it’s 0-0 in the Spurs game and Arsenal get an early goal against Everton, those Spurs players’ hearts will start racing and everything happens a little quicker. And the harder you try, the harder it becomes, because your natural game goes out of the window.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) May 18, 2022
This is where the players and the manager have to trust themselves. They need to remember their strengths and keep their composure. Whatever is happening in the game and at Arsenal, it doesn’t matter, because the team should be confident that they’re going to get the job done.
You know, look at the likes of Liverpool as an example. When was the last time you saw that team panic? They play to their strengths, and they know that even if they do go a goal down, they’ve got the quality and the composure in the team to turn things around. This is the kind of mindset Spurs need to be able to reach.
Harry Redknapp wasn’t happy we threw that bucket of water on him…he’d just bought a new suit!
That clip you see of us players throwing the bucket of water over the boss [Harry Redknapp] – I was one of them. I couldn’t miss that chance! I had to be involved because you don’t get an opportunity like that twice! He wasn’t happy about it at all, because we’d completely soaked his suit and his workbook. I think he bought the suit a couple of days before. He was surprised, he was shocked, but he was not happy!
When you know the character of Harry, you know it’s difficult to guess what to expect from him – he was a mix of emotions. He’s a special man. He’s a proper character who is so difficult to read because he’s always got something up his sleeve. Harry’s a superstar. The relationship I had with Harry was similar to most of the players – it was very love and hate. It was passionate, where the love can be really high, but so can the hatred!
Harry wasn’t the best tactician, but if he had one gift, he knew how to spot a player. Rarely was he wrong when it came to picking out a player.
When we cross paths now, the first thing that comes back is the great memories we shared together at Tottenham and what we achieved.
Summing up Crouchy in three words: simple, laid-back and cool!
Crouchy [Peter Crouch] is a legend. When he joined up with our dressing room, because he came after me, I was just like ‘wow’. This guy, this long guy, how funny he is, how cool and how relaxed he is. He was cool! You know, players are always going to say this kind of thing about their old team-mates, but with Crouchy it’s completely true. He came in with this stature, but he was so simple, laid-back and cool.
When you’re around Crouchy, you feel good, he makes you feel good. He’s a joker and a great dancer – he just has a great mood! On the pitch he was always reliable; he was honestly a pleasure to play with. I always liked playing against him as well, because of his size, I always enjoyed that test. Honestly, I only have good memories when it comes to Crouchy – of course, the best one being on that night in Manchester when we qualified for the Champions League.
Memories of beating Man City to qualify for Champions League…we put Tottenham on a different level
We kept our goals quiet in the 2009-10 season because we didn’t want to get too exposed, but we knew we could make the top four. There were a lot of teams in and around those positions and we were very much the underdogs throughout the season. The more the season went on and we built this momentum, we just knew we were getting into that top four. We just had to execute our plan, and then it came down to that last game away at Man City where Crouchy won the game for us. There was a sense of relief, for sure.
As for celebrations after the game, we just couldn’t wait to get back to London to party. In the dressing room, we were dancing around and all of this. I can remember it like it was yesterday. I can still see exactly who was stood where and who was saying what. I remember it all so well. We were a family and we celebrated like it. We made sure we kept it private. It’s something I learnt very quickly when I moved to London, it’s completely different to Newcastle. In Newcastle, you can pretty much go wherever you want, but it’s different in London. Your margin of error is so thin, there’s always people around waiting to catch you making a fool of yourself, so we wanted to make sure we celebrated privately, as a group. It was better for us all because we could be ourselves.
Historically, you know, we were the first Spurs team to qualify for the Champions League. That put the club on a different level. Look, everybody knew the size of the club, but there were lots of doubters. From that night, though, we put the club on a different level. We made other teams and other fans in the division respect us, and then it was about getting that respect from the rest of the world.
We were such a united team – the balance we had, I’ve never experienced that before in my life. We had the perfect combination of superstars, hard-workers and great characters. It was an amazing time in my career.