Saturday, 5 March 2011
The ten greatest moments of my Spurs supporting life - No. 6
6) Spurs 3 - Inter Milan 1
White Hart Lane
Spurs Scorers: Van der Vaart, Crouch, Pavlyuchenko
The build up to all three Milan games so far have said quite a lot about Spurs and where we're at in our progression (and I do think that maybe we are, finally, progressing).
They've all felt like cup finals. Not matches in league systems from which multiple teams qualify; not first legs where the 'final' whistle means, according to cliche (and, sort of, fact) that it's only half time; but bona fide, one-off, all or nothing, the-next-90-minutes-will-define-us cup finals.
They certainly didn't feel like regular matches, part of our this season's package, games we expect to play and are used to. Why the fuck should they? Other teams may sneer at our giddy excitement and wide-eyed enthusiasm, but it's no good feigning familiarity. This is all genuinely, thrillingly new to us.
Let the older boys stand on the sidelines looking cool, smoking and waiting for the erection section till they make their move. We're going to spend the whole night on the dance floor frugging like lunatics and loving every second of it.
I actually selected the Top 10 before our AC Milan away victory - and I'd have to concede that the win in the San Siro was a worthier achievement – a bigger result against a better side.
But I'll stick with this night at White Hart Lane for a few reasons. Firstly, I was there, and I can testify that the atmosphere was astonishing. Possibly as good as I've known.
It was the first proper 'Glory Glory night' since the '80s. And considering they're supposed to be part of our DNA, it was long overdue and hugely important as part of redefining who we are and where we want to get to.
Gareth Bale, of course, was the game's outstanding performer, but look at that first goal again: brilliant skills from Modric getting right at the heart of their defence, and then slipping in Van der Vaart with a perfect little pass - and, as a friend of mine said on the night - it's nice when you have a player in the position and you don't think he's going to score, you know for an absolute fact he's going to score.
Then there was the 'taxi for Maicon' period when Bale just seemed to be able to beat his full back at will and whip in cross after cross that was just asking to be put away. These were crosses in mini-skirts and lip gloss, I mean they were just begging for it.
The goal from Eto'o even provided a nice little psychological test - which we passed with ease and confidence. 'Ease and confidence', two words very rarely associated with Spurs wins, and certainly not in big games against intimidating opposition.
(Anyone else think a cheeky bid for Eto'o's worth thinking about in the summer? I know he's probably past his best, but he's only 29 and I think he'd be great for us)
I loved the final goal as much as the first. Bale didn't just beat his man, he summarily dismissed him. And as he did so, we could all not only see the perfect ball to play, but knew that he would play it. And he did. And Pav scored. And we'd won.
A few weeks later we'd go back to Inter's ground and beat their biggest rivals with a display that was, in many respects, more rounded, more impressive - and certainly amounted to a bigger achievement, especially with injuries taken into consideration.
But that night at White Hart Lane was our first big marker. It was a swashbuckling, skillful, pacy and glorious demolition of the European champions in front of a crowd who drank it all in and played their own ecstatic part. It was pure Spurs.*
* Our next game saw us capitulate 4-2 away at Bolton. Also pure Spurs. God how we love them.
If you fancy it, and why wouldn't you, enjoy the highlights again here.