In the summer of 2010, Tottenham Hotspur signed Rafael van der Vaart.
The Dutchman was a revelation at the Lane, banging goals in left, right and center. As well as his amazing goal tally, he offered Spurs fire and determination. A perpetual menace on the pitch, he moved for the ball, and drove his passes all over the field.
So comfortable on the ball, he added a new dimension with Tottenham. He formed a telepathic partnership with big man Peter Crouch up front, where he was like a magnet for the long balls which the striker brought down, and capitalizing on the space he was given.
This is something Spurs had needed for a long time. A live-wire to stimulate the team, an added urgency which they had previously lacked. And all the ability in the world.
Van der Vaart lost the restlessness later on in his Spurs career, with Gareth Bale having more influence on play, his effect on the pitch became infrequent. He was disappointingly sold last summer, back to his former club Hamburg.
A product of Ajax’s illustrious youth academy, he took Holland by storm, and got a transfer to the German club.
His move there was somewhat baffling, as he attracted interest from Europe’s top clubs. Nevertheless he did eventually join European giants, Real Madrid.
After a bright start, Van der Vaart found himself left out of the team for long periods before joining Tottenham in a cut-price deal.
Spurs have missed that since Van der Vaart returned to Germany. Gylfi Sigurdsson, Clint Dempsey and new signing Lewis Holtby have failed to replace his goals and drive. They don’t have the same sharp football brain and razor quick feet to create space.
Tottenham should look to sign a player to add this weapon to the game. Maybe young Christian Eriksen is the right player to fill this void. Two good feet, vision and a strong passer. Whoever it is, they need to add a new dimension to the team.
The rage Van der Vaart brought to the North London Derby was incredible, and made him an instant hit with the fans. He actually refused to wear red on his boots due to Arsenal’s unwelcome position in North London. He must be a legend for that.
Thomas O’Dell is a Soccer columnist and you can follow him on Twitter: @Transmission23