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Ramon's return

English Barclays Premiership

It has been nine long months since White Hart Lane felt like home sweet home to Ramon Vega - the smile on his face after Monday's win against West Ham suggested it was almost worth the wait.

The Swiss defender hadn't stepped into the action at the Lane since appearing as a substitute against Newcastle United in last season's doomed FA Cup tie. That was back on December 12, 1999. Vega played in the disastrous replay but was out of the frame with a serious ankle problem that required surgery until pre-season training this summer.

He finally got his chance again against the Hammers on Monday after coming off the bench for injured Luke Young at the start of the second half.

Vega's enthusiasm alone seemed to give his team-mates an extra spark and he went straight into the thick of the action - sending in the cross of the night that just evaded Oyvind Leonhardsen before watching Rio Ferdinand clear his goal-bound header off the line.

In the end Sol Campbell's header won the day in the 66th minute and Vega was simply delighted to be part of the win. "It felt fantastic. I enjoyed every minute of that game," he said. "It was a beautiful feeling to run out on my home ground again.

"We improved a lot from the first half, played quite well and got three points at home, which was very important. The second most important thing was the first clean sheet in months. Everyone knows that was the first clean sheet for a while and it was nice that I was in that side."

It was actually the first clean sheet since back-to-back blanks eight games ago in the middle of April last season.

With Chris Perry out with a broken toe, Young struggling with an ankle problem and youngsters Ledley King and Anthony Gardner still battling back from injury, it looks like Vega will be handed his chance to impress George Graham.

Vega added: "I have my chance and I have to prove myself and keep that place. I hope I can do that. I have to keep my feet on the ground for the moment though and prepare for the next game."