Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele and Nacer Chadli were all named in the Red Devils’ starting XI for the Group H curtain-raiser on Tuesday afternoon, with 19-year-old White Hart Lane colleague Nabil Bentaleb handed a start for opponents Algeria.
The only other instance so far of Spurs players on opposing sides at the World Cup finals was on June 16, 1998, when Colin Calderwood’s Scotland drew 1-1 with a Norway team captained by Frode Grodas. Colin went off injured on the hour.
Indeed, it’s been quite a journey for young midfielder Nabil since his graduation from our Development Squad back in December.
Senior appearances in the Premier League, FA Cup and Europa League were followed up by his first full international cap for Algeria in a friendly win over Slovenia back in March.
And now, having played twice more in pre-tournament friendlies and scored once, he becomes the second youngest Spur ever to feature at the World Cup finals.
Aged 19 years and 205 days, he is only beaten by Aaron Lennon – who was 19 years and 60 days of age when he played for England against Trinidad & Tobago on June 15, 2006.
Meanwhile, with all three of our Belgian lads involved against Algeria, today marks only the ninth instance of the Club having three players in the same team at the World Cup finals.
Mel Hopkins, Terry Medwin and Cliff Jones played for Wales against Hungary (June 8), Mexico (June 11), Hungary again in the play-off (June 17) and Brazil (June 19) at the 1958 World Cup, while Glenn Hoddle, Chris Waddle and Gary Stevens were involved when England played Morocco (June 6) at the 1986 tournament.
At the World Cup 2006, Paul Robinson, Michael Carrick and Lennon played for England against Ecuador (June 25).
And there were two similar instances at the 2010 competition with Ledley King, Lennon and Peter Crouch playing for the Three Lions against USA (June 12), while Lennon, Jermain Defoe and Crouch were in action against Algeria (June 18).
With thanks to Andy Porter.