Tottenham Hotspur didn’t make a single signing in the 2018 summer transfer window, but perhaps they just needed to bring their average down.
The north London club have made a lot of curious transfer swoops during their time in the Premier League, as can only be expected of a team whose managers over the years include George Graham, Glenn Hoddle and Harry Redknapp.
It was a tough task narrowing this down to 36, but here are the weirdest and most (or should that be least) wonderful.
You know when you’re taking a Sporcle quiz about a footballer’s former clubs and there’s one that you can’t bring to mind? That’s Eidur Gudjohnsen at Spurs. Or Eidur Gudjohnsen at Stoke. Or Eidur Gudjohnsen at… AEK Athens? Are you sure? Mostly the Spurs thing, though.
There was certainly some logic to the signing of Dos Santos, much as there was logic to the signings of John Bostock and Wayne Routledge, but it didn’t work out despite his early promise at Barcelona.
He’s mostly on this list so I can point out he was on the pitch at the end of Ledley King’s final Spurs game, which simultaneously feels too early and too late.
Another La Masia product, and another player who failed to make an impact at White Hart Lane. He did, however, famously produce the worst corner in living memory after leaving Spurs for Charlton.
How bad are we talking? See for yourself.
The summer of 1992 was a big one for Spurs transfers, with the arrival of Darren Anderton, Dean Austin and Teddy Sheringham, three players who would each tot up more than 100 games for the club.
Don’t praise their forward planning just yet, though, because they also forked out £300,000 on Peter Beadle, who… did not do that.
The lower-league striker didn’t even have a chance to stake his claim for a first-team spot by the time Sheringham arrived in August, and indeed never played a minute for the club.
Dalmat was pretty good for Spurs, but you can be good and still be a weird signing. Dalmat had been courted by Middlesbrough throughout the summer of 2003, and when he flew over to England most of us expected him to sign for Boro, only for him to surprisingly be announced as a Spurs player.
You’d have thought Boro would have learned, having had the exact same thing happen with Manchester United and Diego Forlán just a year earlier.
Nicola Berti had an impressive career for club and country. Nicola Berti played for Tottenham. These sentences are both accurate, yet there was no overlap between the events.
One of a handful of examples where Spurs might have preferred taking a second to think just why a big club would allow one of there former stars to leave with such little resistance.
When Dimitar Berbatov made his £30million move to Manchester United, it wasn’t all bad for Spurs – as part of the deal they got a loan move for Campbell, who had started for United on the opening day of the season.
*Checks headset* oh, sorry, I’m just hearing it was all bad for Spurs. Campbell scored one league goal. When Spurs were 2-0 down. In a game they still ended up losing.
You probably remember a little bit about the 2001-02 Champions League. Bayer Leverkusen’s surprise run to the final, for example, or Zinedine Zidane’s goal which ended their dream.
You might not remember César Sánchez starting that game in goal for Real Madrid, having displaced Iker Casillas earlier in the season.
Still, when Spurs signed the keeper from Real Zaragoza in 2008 he was an established Spanish top-flight keeper who ought to have been able to challenge for the number one spot. Instead, he played 16 minutes for the club, three weeks after the man who signed him, Juande Ramos, had been sacked.
Premier League clubs have really got the most out of Brazilian talent over the years.
Middlesbrough signed Juninho, who went on to become a club legend in his three spells. Chelsea signed David Luiz, who helped them win the Champions League before returning to the club from PSG. Spurs signed Gilberto.
Bobby Zamora was probably the most sought-after lower-league striker when he joined Spurs in 2003, but he was, still, a lower-league striker.
If he was originally signed as bait for the Jermain Defoe deal six months later then he was a good signing, but we think this was just happenstance.
Turns out signing players just because they were really good on Football Manager as 16-year-olds doesn’t always work. Who knew?
Going into the January 2012 transfer window, Tottenham were well in the mix for the Champions League places, and the right signings could have allowed them a real crack at the title.
Harry Redknapp signed Louis Saha (one goal all season for Everton) and Ryan Nelsen (the oldest man in the world).
Ultimately, what looked like early signs of the gamble paying off – a Saha-inspired 5-0 demoliton of Newcastle United – could be explained away by the fixture taking place shortly after an Alan Pardew side secured their Premier League safety.
Saha would score two more goals – not just that season, not just for Spurs, but ever. As for Nelsen, he was in management less than 12 months later.
Spurs must have thought they were onto a winner when they picked up a former Arsenal target on the cheap, but they forgot that for every Patrick Vieira to rock up at Highbury in the mid-90s there was at least one Alberto Méndez.
Saïb, with his one goal and swift exit, was Spurs’ Méndez.
Kicking it up a notch, Ricketts was actually signed by Spurs from Arsenal in what could have ended up as Sol Campbell Mk. II if the midfielder had ended up having even close to the same impact as the man who went the other way.
After 30 games for Spurs and a further 50 for Wolves in the Championship, he would go on to play in *deep breath* Canada, Hungary, Moldova, Germany, Ireland, India, Ecuador, Thailand and Hong Kong.
Oh, and there was a game at Exeter City in the middle of all that.
Signed off the back of some blistering form at the Under-17 World Cup, Coulibaly’s laundry list of clubs isn’t quite as long as Ricketts’.
However, a post-Spurs CV of Bari, Pistoiese, Peterborough, Newport County, Kilmarnock, Al-Ahly and Partick Thistle seems more impressive when you realise he’s still just 23 years old.
Footballers have quit the game for many reasons, but few have copied Baardsen by packing it all in at 25 to become a hedge fund manager. Possibly the only man ever to up his earning power by leaving English football in the Premier League era.
Berti wasn’t the only Italian to sign for Spurs in the 90s.
However, while Tramezzani was at the club for twice as long, he played fewer than half as many games.
Seeing as the rest of his career was spent almost entirely at middling Italian clubs, we wondered if he just got lost. Then we found out he was Albania’s assistant manager at Euro 2016.
The French striker was presumably signed as part of an updated “Who’s on First’ routine. “The substitute’s coming on”. “Who is it then?”. “I just said, it’s Kamanan”. Maybe that’s why he never made it off the bench.
Signed from Derby, it was quickly evident that the Pole was not of the standard required to succeed at Spurs. In fact, he wasn’t even close. He did, however, inspire this brilliant video back in the days when YouTube comparisons were all the rage.
Who could have guessed signing a 22-year-old striker from non-league wouldn’t work out? Ah, yes, everybody.
Still, McEwen has been rumoured to have left football for a good job in the City, like Baardsen but without the American passport, after failing to score in a handful of appearances as a striker for Spurs and about as many for QPR.
Described by Glenn Hoddle as “an immensely impressive midfielder” when he signed in January 2003 after an eye-catching role in Japan’s run to the last 16 of the World Cup the previous year.
Played a grand total of 189 minutes for Tottenham, across four league defeats, before vanishing without a trace.
The same window saw Spurs bring in Mabizela, not even the strangest South African signing to rock up at White Hart Lane.
Scored the best Premier League debut goal you’d forgotten about but was released before his contract ran out.
When you’re looking for a goalscorer in the Premier League, someone without a league goal in 16 second-tier outings doesn’t seem like the obvious choice, but maybe Spurs thought they could inspire Andy Booth to get his magic touch back.
[Narrator: they could not]
If you think there are a lot of goalkeepers on this list, you’d be right, but there’s a good reason for it.
Pletikosa has more than 100 Croatia caps but never played in the league for Spurs, and is best known in north London for being named as one of two substitute goalkeepers when Harry Redknapp wanted to drop the board a subtle hint about needing reinforcements going into the January 2011 transfer window.
We’ll come back to one of those January signings a little later on.
Aggressively bald Canadian goalkeeper. Feels like he must have been signed by accident.
When Tim Sherwood went into management, he famously said I want attackers to attack, defenders to defend and midfielders to play midfield.
I wonder sometimes if there was some confusion in Tactics Tim’s mind after witnessing Spurs sign Defendi to defend in 2005.
Another Brazilian? Sure, why not. Spurs have such a bad record that Sandro working out seems like pure fluke, but at least they pulled the plug on Uvini before completing a permanent deal.
Look, Jimmy Walker seems like a lovely chap, so this isn’t on him.
However, signing a 36-year-old goalkeeper without an appearance in two years can only be justified if he has some really good after-dinner stories, and even Jimmy might not be able to deliver there.
At first glance, a normal goalkeeper signing, until you realise he wasn’t actually signed by the club but rather kept around on a three-year loan.
The standout moment of Černý’s time at Spurs came when he inexplicably dropped the cross at the feet of a Slavia Prague player, an error so grave it forced UEFA to rebrand the UEFA Cup as the Europa League 18 months later to expunge all memory of the event. Probably.
Would later claim the most undeserved assist in football history, after a reunion with former Spurs ‘team-mate’ Adel Taarabt at QPR.
The late Hungarian goalkeeper spent three years as a Tottenham Hotspur player, but in the most Spursy move ever, his biggest impact on the club came five years after his exit, in a game involving two different clubs.
It was Fülöp who, making his West Brom debut nine months after signing for the club, gifted Arsenal three goals to help deny Spurs a top-four finish and leave their 2012-13 Champions League place at the mercy of Chelsea. We all know what happened next.
Not sure he even exists. It says a lot that Spurs needed to include a bio of the club in his signing announcement in order to pad the word count.
But wait, I hear you cry, wasn’t Dawkins just an academy product?
He was, but then he was released in 2009. And re-signed in 2011, having played for no one in the interim, and spent the entirety of his new contract out on loan before joining Derby County and coming close to a Premier League return in 2014.
Now approaching his 31st birthday, he was last seen on a football pitch during San Jose Earthquakes’ victory over Colorado Rapids in July 2017.
The 1988 FA Cup winner was a youthful 42-year-old when he moved to Spurs 13 years later and even sat on the bench for the north London Derby in 2001.
Was somehow also involved in a matchday squad 13 years after that when Stevenage were short of goalkeeping cover.
Bongani Khumalo was not a bad footballer by most metrics. He has more than 40 international caps and played for South Africa at the 2010 World Cup.
He also spent the best part of five years as a Spurs player, without ever threatening to actually play football for the club, because that would have just been stupid.
Imagine getting your dream Premier League move at the age of 24 and spending your entire contract flitting between Preston, Reading, Doncaster, Colchester and Thessaloniki. No one needs that.
Spurs signing of Fryers feels like a bit of a faff in retrospect. Instead of agreeing to the level of compensation Manchester United wanted for the defender, they decided not to stand in the way as he completed a free transfer to Standard Liège (foreign clubs don’t have to pay compensation for out-of-contract players under the age of 23, remember).
Six months later, Fryers came down with the least surprising bout of homesickness since Tom Hanks in Cast Away, and moved home to sign for Spurs, enjoying a long and fruitful career with the club.
No, wait, he played 16 games before being sold to Crystal Palace. Definitely worth the hassle, I’m sure we can all agree.
We might have had to tread lightly when discussing other signings, to avoid any legal repercussions, but there’s no such issue with Segers. The goalkeeper was found guilty in 1997 of a “serious breach” of betting regulations and handed a suspended sentence.
He was, however, cleared of the match-fixing charges which had followed him around towards the end of his time at Wimbledon.
By this time, he had played just four times in two years, and was on the books of Woking while awaiting trial. He was also 36 years old. It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume his Premier League days were beyond him.
Enter Spurs, who not only gave him 90 minutes against Southampton in a 1998 Premier League game but kept him on their books until 2001.
That’s right, Hans Segers was technically a Premier League player this century, and it’s all thanks to Tottenham Hotspur FC.
By Tom Victor