Former star admits major Tottenham regret – ‘I shouldn’t have left’

Rafael van der Vaart has admitted his regret at leaving Tottenham Hotspur in 2012, but says that former manager Andre Villas-Boas pushed him towards the exit door.

The ex-Netherlands international, who won 109 caps for his country between 2001 and 2013, had enjoyed two successful years in North London prior to the arrival of the Portuguese coach, but found himself down the pecking order and swiftly sealed a return to Hamburg in Germany.

Whilst Van der Vaart enjoyed some good moments back in the Bundesliga, he now feels that he would have been better served fighting for his place at White Hart Lane.

“Andre Villas-Boas wasn’t the ideal coach for me,” the ex-Real Madrid playmaker told FourFourTwo.

“He bought Gylfi Sigurdsson and then told me he would be his new No.10.

“I found that a little bit strange considering what I’d achieved over the previous two years.

“I started the first match of the season on the subs’ bench, so when Hamburg approached me, I thought it was a nice opportunity to go back.

“But I shouldn’t have left Tottenham, though it’s always easy to say that with hindsight.”

A fan favourite at Spurs, Van der Vaart arrived in 2010 and hit the ground running in his first season, scoring 13 times in the Premier League, including three in two matches against rivals Arsenal, as well as helping the club reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

He hit double figures again in the next campaign and cemented his cult status with another strike in a home win over the Gunners.

Aged just 29 when he left Tottenham, the Dutchman still had a few years left in his prime and his replacement Sigurdsson failed to make the desired impact under Villas-Boas.

Given his talent for finding the net, as well as being a specialist set-piece taker, there appeared to be an element of short-sightedness in allowing him to leave when he still had a great deal to offer.

Nonetheless, it is clear that Van der Vaart remembers fondly his time in Tottenham colours, as do the supporters who saw the talented technician play in those two years.