Rafa van der Vaart says he feels ‘great’ as he tackles his first pre-season in England.
The Dutch maestro missed our pre-season preparations last season after a late, late switch from Real Madrid on transfer deadline day.
In fact, Rafa only had limited pre-season work in Madrid after playing for Holland in last summer’s World Cup.
The Dutch went all the way in South Africa and played the final against Spain on July 11, 2010 – we’d already returned to pre-season by then and had our first friendly against Bournemouth!
“It’s been quite hard, in fact, I think I prefer to come back a little later!" joked Rafa at Spurs Lodge.
“Seriously though, it’s been good. We’ve all had a holiday and now we’re back in training and getting ready for a hard season. I feel great. I did my fitness sessions during the summer, so I feel good.
“You need this work, it’s really important to get in shape.
“We have a tough pre-season, we go to South Africa and you want to stay fit for the whole season, so you need these sessions.
“I can remember when I came here, okay, I had pre-season at Madrid and I felt quite fit but here, the pace of the game is more intense than in Spain and that’s why I had a few little injuries.
“At the end I played a lot of games and I hope to do the same next season.”
Rafa says it makes all the difference to now have a year at Spurs under his belt, knowing everyone at the club and feeling settled in the English environment.
“In the first year you come into the club and you don’t really know anyone, you are a little nervous and you have to get used to the league, the lifestyle, but now we’re really settled and I feel great here,” he added.