From the vault: Edgar Davids at Spurs

The Pitbull

Only twice in my lifetime have Spurs signed a player I’d call a ready-made superstar. Someone with world renowned status and a trophy collection to match their ungodly talents. Players I’d watched in World Cups and Champions League finals, title deciders— only able to dream that they might turn up at the club I support.

The first was Jurgen Klinsmann; the second, Edgar Davids. Rafael van der Vaart is close to being a third.

During the mid-to-late 90s, Clarence Seedorf and Edgar Davids were among my favourite players in world football. Maybe it was their flat-out refusal to sign for a second-rate club. Nothing but AAA-rated for Edgar and Clarence.

Between them, they appeared to be on a mission to represent every elite European side before they retired: both Milan clubs, Real, Barcelona, Ajax, and Juventus. It’s little wonder their silverware haul is so impressive. Seedorf alone won four Champions League titles at three different clubs.

Dutch destroyer

Perhaps the reason I enjoyed watching them, as much as a wonderful Scottish Golf Tour, was that it was the 90s and dreadlocks were inescapably cool. Regi Blinker holds an unwarranted place in my heart for the simple grounds that his hair looked great when he ran. Like a footballing Predator, gliding through the jungle.

Equally as superficial, I liked Davids—possibly more than his Dutch counterpart, Seedorf (and Regi Blinker)— because of his stylish protective goggles, which he wore for medical reasons. Glaucoma. Which doesn’t sound quite as cool; when you realise your hero has the same health worries as your nan.

Silk and steel

But what I think I appreciated most about Davids during that era, was that he was, along with Roy Keane, the finest example of a complete midfielder. Just as capable of dispensing a ferocious slide tackle as he was a Marseille Roulette.

Louis van Gaal might’ve dubbed him The Pitbull, but there was much more to his game than dogged marking and thunderous challenges. You’ve all seen that Nike advert from 1996, I’m sure.

Davids arrived at Spurs aged 32, with his best years behind him. But lacking none of the gusto or star quality that made him such a fan favourite at Juventus and Ajax. In an inexperienced but talented squad, the Dutchman was a genuine force of nature. ‘Edgar coming in has given us a huge boost,’ admitted Michael Carrick during the 2005 preseason. A born winner who helped push a gifted young squad onto better things.

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