Catching up with...Michael Dawson
01 November 2017|Tottenham Hotspur
Michael Dawson has played over 500 games during a professional career which has seen him serve ourselves, Nottingham Forest and Hull City with distinction - but few of those made him more proud than when he led us into Champions League battle against Real Madrid.
The centre-half, who always wore his heart on his sleeve for the Spurs cause and remains to this day a hugely popular figure among our supporters, only featured in six Champions League matches during our first foray into the competition in 2010-11.
After playing in the play-off matches against Young Boys of Switzerland, a knee injury ruled him out of all six group games as we topped a pool which contained reigning champions Inter Milan, Werder Bremen and FC Twente.
But he was back in time for the next stage and was handed the captain’s armband by manager Harry Redknapp in all four of our knockout matches, as we overcame AC Milan before facing tonight’s opponents Real Madrid in the quarter-finals.
Below: Michael celebrates beating AC Milan with Sandro and Vedran Corluka
For a humble lad hailing from the North Yorkshire town of Northallerton, leading one of England’s greatest clubs out at the famous Santiago Bernabeu stadium was the stuff of dreams.
“I had an amazing nine years at Spurs but without doubt, captaining the side against Real Madrid was one of the greatest moments of my career,” said the 33-year-old, now plying his trade with Hull in the Championship.
“Going to Madrid and playing in the Bernabeu is something I will never forget, even though I probably didn’t take it all in as much as I should have done at the time.
“I’d missed the group stage through injury, so to come back and lead the team as we beat AC Milan at the San Siro and held out for a goalless draw in the return at the Lane was fantastic. To then pull out Real Madrid in the quarters – it was one of those moments when you just go ‘wow’!”
Unfortunately, our preparations ahead of the first game at the Bernabeu were dealt a blow just before kick-off, when Aaron Lennon had to pull out of the starting line-up through illness. Jermaine Jenas was a more than adequate replacement, but it did mean we lost Aaron’s searing pace and probably disrupted our plans for the game.
Worse was to follow though. Real’s striker Emmanuel Adebayor put them ahead after just four minutes and when Peter Crouch was sent off for a second yellow card with just 18 minutes gone, we were facing a huge challenge.
Future Spur Adebayor added a second after the interval and goals from Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo gave the home side a 4-0 win on the night.
Below: Michael and Sandro close down Ronaldo at the Bernabeu
“It was tough to take,” said Daws. “It all went wrong for us to be honest and it meant that all we really had to play for back at the Lane was pride.
“We were playing one of the best teams in Europe and needed to overturn a four-goal deficit, so we had to be realistic. It was still a great night at the White Hart Lane and the fans dreamed of seeing their team pitting themselves against the likes of Real Madrid.
“Unfortunately, we lost 1-0 at home and went out. It had been way too big an ask for us, but the journey we’d been on throughout the tournament was special, for myself and all the lads.
“There’s a photo of me playing in that second leg at the Lane against Ronaldo, one of the best players in the world, and it’s one of those that you cherish. They were two matches that I will always remember, even if the results didn’t go our way.”
Look out for the full interview with Michael in this evening's official matchday programme...
PICK UP YOUR SPECIAL EDITION CHAMPIONS LEAGUE MATCHDAY PROGRAMME!
Another UEFA Champions League A4 special edition of our official matchday programme will be on sale at Wembley on Wednesday evening, featuring:
- Main feature interview with Christian Eriksen
- Mauricio Pochettino’s exclusive programme column
- Michael Dawson remembers captaining us against Real Madrid in 2011
- Tottenham Tales: The Spurs careers of Luka Modric and Gareth Bale
- Marshes to Madrid: How Paul Miller and Mark Falco went from Hackney Marshes to the Bernabeu
- Interview with Real Madrid legend Emilio Butragueño
- Discussion Panel: Dele Alli on returning to Champions League action
- Recalling the international matches between England and Spain at Wembley down the years
- Wembley Memories with former defender Phil Beal
All this and more is in Wednesday night's special A4 programme – buy yours from one of several points around Wembley Stadium, £5 for 100 pages. Alternatively, buy individual issues online here or subscribe for the season here.