Catching up with... Sebastien Bassong
Tue 06 August 2019, 16:57|Tottenham Hotspur
Want to know how to make an impression? Ask Sebastien Bassong.
It’s 10 years since the Cameroon international marked his debut at White Hart Lane with the winner against Liverpool on the Premier League’s opening weekend.
The central defender joined us from Newcastle on 6 August, 2009. Ten days later, he met Luka Modric’s free-kick with an unstoppable header into the top corner to beat the Reds. “Oh, what a header,” said the commentator. “Sebastien Bassong has made his mark.” Hadn’t he just.
“Ten years ago? Wow,” said Sebastien, speaking to us from a new footballing chapter in Greece this week. “I remember it like it was yesterday. It is such a wonderful memory. It was a day full of emotion and it all happened as you would dream it would happen.
“Luka’s free-kick came in, the header was perfect and the joy I felt at that moment... it was incredible. My debut, to score the winning goal against Liverpool, it’s just amazing.
“All my family were over from France. You know what? I knew something was going to happen, I just didn’t know what. It was beautiful.”
Seb, then 23, now 33, went on to play the first 11 Premier League games in 2009/10 before injury began to disrupt his season. He went on to start as many matches in the Premier League as Michael Dawson (25) and shared central defensive duties with Daws and Ledley King (19 starts) as we memorably finished fourth in the Premier League and qualified for the Champions League for the first time.
Or, should we say, qualified for the Champions League play-off.
Fast-forward to August, 2010, and Seb can claim one of the most important goals of the Club’s modern-day history.
We’d been paired against Young Boys of Switzerland in the two-legged play-off. The first leg was on an artificial playing surface at Berne's Stade de Suiss and looked to be heading for disaster.
Goals from Senad Lulic, Henri Bienvenu and Xavier Hochstrasser looked to have dropped us into a world of pain with just 30 minutes on the clock – 3-0 down and playing on a plastic pitch, our first Champions League campaign and the return of the European ‘glory, glory nights’ couldn’t have felt further away.
Thankfully, Seb did something about it. With three minutes left of the first half, Seb launched himself in to meet Gareth Bale’s corner to make it 3-1. Who knows what might have happened if it had stayed 3-0 at half-time.
What we do know is Roman Pavlyuckenko reduced arrears to 3-2 in the second half and we ran away with the second leg, Peter Crouch’s hat-trick taking us into the Champions League group stages for the first time, followed by those thrilling nights against Werder Bremen, Twente, Inter, AC Milan and Real Madrid as we reached the quarter-finals with Bale running amok.
“I remember listening to a quiz on the radio and they asked ‘who scored the first goal for Tottenham in the Champions League?’ and that was me!" he said. "No-one can ever take that away.
“Listen, we were in big trouble that night. Deep trouble! We were playing on an artificial surface and I remember turning to Daws after about 20 minutes, looking at each other and saying ‘wow, this could be a long night!' But I was thinking ‘there is no way this is going to end like this’ and got onto Gareth’s corner with a header. That got us back on track. The rest is history...
“Every time I watch those goals back, my whole body is shaking. It’s amazing. So much emotion.”
Seb went on to make 71 appearances for us before departing for Norwich City in 2012. He also played for Watford and Peterborough and we last saw him in action for our Legends against Inter Forever in a wonderful test event for the new stadium back in March. “That stadium is like something from another world,” he said. “It’s unbelievable. If I could play there... oh my...”
He’s now in Greece having hooked up with newly promoted Volos in the Greek Super League.
“I came to England when I was young, so it was big for me to leave after 11 years,” he said. “It’s a new challenge with Volos. They have a big project and they asked me to be part of it. I thought ‘why not, let’s go for it’.”
Ten years on from Liverpool at the Lane, maybe another debut goal awaits...