Being a fan of any football team will inspire some strange and varied passions, and Spurs’ supporters are no exception.
Over the years the club has welcomed in many players. Some have thrived, others have failed, and still others have coasted along in relative anonymity until being shipped off on loan or perhaps even released without ceremony.
Among those players have been some understandable heroes. Ledley King. Glenn Hoddle. Gary Mabbutt. Gareth Bale. Harry Kane.
For every one of them, though, there were a legion of players who couldn’t quite make their presence as well known. And for every one of those players were a small, devoted fanbase.
Let’s take a look at the top five.
Roberto Soldado – When the Spaniard was signed from Valencia in 2013, he was briefly Spurs’ most expensive player ever with his transfer fee of £26 million. His fee seemed justified at first. He was, after all, one of the top scoring players in La Liga not named Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. It seemed as if that Spurs were finally getting the striker they had been waiting for for years.
Soldado ended up being a dud however. Before being sold to Villarreal this past summer, he had scored only 16 times in 76 appearances for Spurs.
And yet still fans loved him. Even if he didn’t score, you couldn’t exactly say he didn’t try. Many of his efforts were legitimately valiant. Unlike, say, Emmanuel Adebayor or Roman Pavlyuchenko, you couldn’t accuse him of checking out in games. He worked hard and got nothing for it but some sympathy from some devoted Spurs fans.
Aaron Lennon – Prior to being sold to Everton this past January, Aaron Lennon was Spurs’ longest serving player. He had made it through several managerial changes, several changes in form, and dozens of teammates. Consequently, he had a devoted fan following.
The only problem was that Lennon didn’t exactly do a whole lot with his time at Spurs. He was clearly quick and clever with his timing, but every drive into the box almost always amounted to nothing. He neither lacked the confidence or skill to become a regular difference maker at the club.
Still, his tenure at the club made a lot of people sentimental when he finally left.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto – The Cameroonian left-back enjoyed a level of popularity from inside and outside of Spurs that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense considering his comments about the game.
Assou-Ekotto frequently made it abundantly clear that he didn’t particularly care for football. Yes, he liked getting paid by Spurs, but to him his efforts week in and week out were not about glory. They were about doing a job. He had other passions that were more important to him.
Despite such affronts to the fandom, he – and his hair – were widely praised. And he even turned in a few decent games for Spurs.
Paulinho – The Brazilian was the first player brought in to Spurs in the Summer of Gareth Bale. He was also, for a brief time before the arrival of Roberto Soldado, the most expensive player in the club’s history.
Fans were excited at the prospect of Paulinho. He had just come off an impressive Confederations Cup playing for Brazil, and it seemed as if Spurs might have unearthed a legitimate diamond.
Except he was much more unpolished than anyone expected. He made plenty of starts but couldn’t consistently perform for Andre Villas-Boas, Tim Sherwood or Mauricio Pochettino. His apologists ran out of excuses by summer 2015, and he was allowed to leave for the Chinese Super League.
Tom Carroll – For diehards, Carroll’s arrival on the first team has long been anxiously awaited. The English midfielder has been with the team for years, but has spent most of that time either in the academy or out on loan. Only this season has Pochettino saw fit to include him as a regular part of the matchday squad, and those diehards have finally had a glimpse of the player they were so eager to see play for Spurs.
Why exactly so much excitement has surrounded Carroll isn’t exactly clear. It’s true that he was very promising in Spurs’ development system, but that’s not always a guarantee he’ll back it on the first team.
All that being said, Carroll has actually been quietly impressive in the minutes he’s been given this season. Pochettino seems to be a fan of the young man as well, and it seems likely that fans will see more and more of Carroll in the coming years.