The Friday Feature
Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).
Tim Sherwood is a rare breed in football — a player who has had his hands on the Premiership title.
Manchester United and Arsenal have dominated the Premiership since it was formed in 1992 but Blackburn Rovers took the top flight by storm in the mid-1990s and finally wrested the trophy away from Old Trafford and Highbury in 1995.
Sherwood was the skipper of that side and few will forget the memorable scenes of Rovers going 2-1 down at Liverpool only to hear seconds later that United had failed at West Ham and despite defeat, they had done enough.
Sherwood moved back to his native south in February 1999 and his fine form at Spurs was rewarded with his first England caps. He ended up with 10 goals from midfield despite three months on the sidelines injured last season.
The tenth goal of his campaign last term came against Sunderland and we now face Peter Reid’s men at the Lane again on Saturday with Sherwood celebrating another milestone — he’s just gone past the 400 league appearances and the 500 mark in total for his career.
What better time for Paul Miles to ask him about his time in football so far. Did he fancy another 500 games?
How did you first get picked up by Watford?
Tim Sherwood: “I played schools football and local football in Hertfordshire and scouts spotted me playing. I joined Watford as an apprentice and went from there. I joined Norwich two years later, Blackburn and now Tottenham. It’s been good up to now.”
Was Graham Taylor in charge of Watford when you started?
TS: “When I first went there yes but a few managers came and went in my time there.”
Were you involved in the UEFA Cup glory days at Norwich?
TS: “I was actually sold just before that! I could have claimed that though! It was a good footballing team and I thought we had a lot of good coaches there at the time and I learned a lot along the way. But going to Blackburn was a good step as well.”
Was that period at Blackburn a one-off? Can it happen again?
TS: “It can happen but I think a team like Blackburn and the way we played at the time could never win the league now because of the way we played. The game is different now and in lamens terms you have to play football a lot, lot more. We were solid at the back, worked hard throughout the team and had Alan Shearer up front, who scored the goals. For that to happen again you would have to be very lucky but you have a head start when you have a man like Jack Walker who is prepared to put his hand is in his pocket and spend unlimited amount of funds to get success — and he got it. There is no guarantee when you spend the money that you are going to get success.”
We’ve heard of the clichés but what is it really like to hold that championship trophy aloft? Manchester United have dominated in recent years and you a rare breed at the moment — a man who has had his hands on the title.
TS: “It was obviously a great occasion. Looking back at the time you couldn’t remember a thing. It was a blur from about three weeks into the season. It wasn’t a pleasant time because we had it in our grasp but slowly we were giving it away. It all went down to the last day and that was too much pressure for my liking. It was so tense and we couldn’t get going in the last few games of the season. Thankfully on the day we just held on.”
Do you cherish it even more knowing how much United and Arsenal have dominated? It is difficult for any team to break that at the moment.
TS: “I can be done but you can’t do it without funds. If Tottenham were to go out and spend £50m on players — United have already got those players in their squad.”
You did so much at Blackburn, won the title, played in the European Cup, so what was the attraction of coming down to Tottenham?
TS: “It was a good chance to come back. Things were turning a bit sour at Blackburn, went through different managers and I felt it was the right time to move on. The manager at the time Brian Kidd accepted a bid from Tottenham for me and when that happens you know it is probably time to leave. I was happy to come here. It’s a massive club that has underachieved. It was 1991 when they last won a trophy before the Worthington Cup last year. A turn of fortune is not something that’s just happened, it’s been happening over a number of years. For a club of this size to only win a few trophies in 40, 50 years is not good.”
You won your first England caps at Tottenham. Does that suggest you are playing better than ever here or that it’s simply a higher profile club?
TS: “I think there is perhaps a bias towards London clubs and bigger clubs and it certainly helped my career coming down here. I was involved in squads at Blackburn but unfortunately never played.”
Is it fair to suggest that you haven’t had the rub of the green as far as England is concerned?
TS: “I was disappointed the way it happened. The first game I played was against Poland, we won 3-1 and I played in my right position. The other three times I played left wing. I didn’t even play on the left wing for my school team and I don’t think anyone should be asked to play out of position for his country. If you are asked you go out and play — I’d play in goal if I was asked. But you shouldn’t have to ask someone to do that because there are enough good players in this country. Unfortunately that was a graveyard run for me and many other players on that left-hand side.”
Do you still have international ambitions?
TS: “Yes. If I hit a run of form and I’m playing well enough to be in an England squad. “
What does the future hold here at Spurs?
TS: “We’ve got to build on that Worthington Cup win and hopefully progress better than last year. Anything less than a European spot this season would be a disappointment.”
So, 500 games down the line, what do you think of it so far?
TS: “I’ve had some great moves, great clubs, great coaches and hopefully there are a few more games to come.”
To listen to Tim's interview in full, click here