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When Mabbsy met Jurgen - Part Three

17 November 2014|Tottenham Hotspur

Part Three of ‘When Mabbsy met Jurgen’ takes us back to the 1997-98 campaign and Jurgen Klinsmann’s return to the club.

Spurs legends, team-mates and friends, Gary Mabbutt welcomed Jurgen and the USA national team to our training facility at Hotspur Way last week.

Gary turned interviewer as the pair reflected on Jurgen’s memorable spells at White Hart Lane.

Having made such a huge impact in his first season in 1994-95 - when he scored 29 goals and formed a lethal striking partnership with Teddy Sheringham - the German star returned from Sampdoria in December, 1997.

However, this was a different story as we were second-from-bottom of the Premier League on his arrival and facing a scrap against relegation.

The goals weren’t as free-flowing as his first spell but Jurgen delivered when we needed it most - at Selhurst Park in May, 1998.


Mabbsy: "You broke a lot of Spurs fans hearts when you left us at the end of that first season but the offer to go to Bayern Munich was incredible opportunity for you. But you came back again in 1997-98. Was it different, second time around?"

Jurgen: “It wasn’t any different with the fans but it was different from a chemistry point of view. It wasn’t Ossie Ardiles or Gerry Francis anymore, it was Christian Gross, who tried very hard and the team was different as well.

"I came from Sampdoria and was at a crucial point in my career because the World Cup was coming up in France and Spurs were in a different spot. We both were! But we managed to get our heads around it, climb up the table and be safe at the end of the season.

"It was also different personally because I had my boy Jonathan born in 1997 and he was only half-a-year old. I was a father, a family person and it was very different to when I was a batchelor in my first spell, even if I was already together with my wife then.

"It was super-important that we made our way up the table, made everyone safe and then I played my last World Cup in France and called it a day.

"Both experiences were very emotional because they were always connected with the fans. It wasn’t as exciting as the first spell because we were shooting for Europe and the FA Cup then, but it was still a great few months and a wonderful time."

Below: Jurgen with Les Ferdinand and David Ginola during the 6-2 win against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park


Mabbsy: "You are right, it was different. Christian Gross had some great ideas but it took a while for those ideas to get across to the players. We were struggling. You came back and things got slightly better but we were still fighting relegation. I remember we had to go to Wimbledon and that game saved us from the depths of despair and of course, you scored four goals."

Jurgen: "It was a special day because until that point I’d struggled myself with form and injuries. I had a broken jaw just prior to the game at Wimbledon. You start to question yourself, ‘am I good enough?’.

"We had the World Cup coming and we were struggling against relegation and people always have high expectations so we had to get out there and get the job done.

"I was thrilled not just with the four goals, which is something different, but also because it wasn’t going to end on a negative note, which would have been a disaster.

"It was a huge relief for everyone, for Christian, for the players and just to save that season.

"When you get towards the end of your career you start to think too much like a manager. You become too critical because you are 16, 18 years in the game and towards the end, you start to think you can do it better. But you should actually just be the player and do your job as the player, don’t start to think like a manager.

"I realise that in the last couple of years of playing I started to read things too fast, made my own story whether it was right or wrong and that’s why I pushed at the end of that second spell. I said to myself ‘you think too far ahead and you think you can do things differently, but you are still just a player, one of the 25’. My head said ‘call it a day’."

Tomorrow - the fourth and final part of 'When Mabbsy met Jurgen' takes to the present day...