Wilson Palacios: “I carry Spurs in my heart”
Wed 16 January 2019, 15:35|Tottenham Hotspur
Humble as the day he first walked into our former training ground at Spurs Lodge - believe it or not, almost 10 years ago - Wilson Palacios couldn’t quite comprehend the praise being levelled at him on a rare return to Spurs at one of our recent games.
Now 34 and playing for Club Deportivo Olimpia back home in Honduras, it was pointed out to Wilson that he’ll always have a place in Spurs fans’ hearts after his all-action performances helped dig us out of a hole in the 2008/09 season.
Yes, we had Luka Modric. Yes, we had Gareth Bale and Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgate, Robbie Keane, Jermaine Jenas, Tom Huddlestone and Aaron Lennon.
But sometimes, you need a Wilson Palacios.
Turn the clock back to Wilson’s arrival on 21 January, 2009 and we were still in a spot of bother in the Premier League. We’d lifted the League Cup in February, 2008, but that seemed a distant memory as we slipped to the bottom of the table with just two points from our opening eight games.
Harry Redknapp’s arrival sparked a revival but when Wilson joined us from Wigan we were still 16th and incredibly, one of five teams level on 21 points at the foot of the table with West Brom, Stoke, Middlesbrough and Blackburn. Two of those clubs would be relegated in May.
Wilson made his debut in a 3-2 loss at Bolton on 31 January and started 10 of the next 11 games. In that time we won six, drew two and lost two and by the time he made his last appearance of the season in a 1-0 win against West Brom on 2 May, we were up to 10th and fully 13 points clear of the drop zone. We finished eighth - bottom to eighth in 30 games.
Of course, there were other factors - Robbie Keane’s return, Ledley and ‘Woody’s’ pairing in a settled back four in the latter stages (six clean sheets in our last 12 games), Luka’s influence growing - but if testament of Wilson’s contribution is needed, here’s skipper Ledley.
“Wilson came in and was exactly what we needed at that time, a combative player who didn’t just win the ball back, he could play as well,” said Ledley, who started eight times with Wilson in the final stretch that season. “He had a big impact and was important to the team at the time.”
All this praise is somewhat of a surprise to Wilson, who went on to play 82 times for us in all competitions, including eight appearances in our first Champions League campaign in 2010/11 before departing for Stoke in the summer of 2011. Capped 97 times by Honduras, he also represented his country at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.
“I'm proud to hear that,” said Wilson. “We had many good players like Luka Modric, Jermaine Jenas, Tom Huddlestone, Robbie Keane and Ledley King.
“I arrived at a good moment because the team started to play very well. Not only me, all my colleagues at that time were very good.
“Harry Redknapp and the entire staff gave me a lot of confidence. That was very important. The staff were very good with the players and that motivated us. It was like a family, we worked hard.
“It was a spectacular time. For me, at Spurs, I had the best time in England. I enjoyed it to the fullest. The confidence that the fans gave me was incredible.
“Spurs represents a lot to me. I carry the Club in my heart.”
Ledley on Wilson
“He was a very quiet guy off the pitch, Wilson, hardly said a word, but when he got on the pitch he was something else! He wasn’t the tallest or the biggest but he had such a physicality about him. Also, he was very good technically, very good on the ball, so he fitted in perfectly here. He came in and was exactly what we needed at that time, a combative player who didn’t just win the ball back, he could play as well. He had a big impact and was important to the team at the time.
“You can see how important holding midfielders are in the modern game, everything goes through them, especially when you build from the back, as we always have done. Wilson could take the ball from us and had the ability to keep it as well as do the other side of the game, break play up, protect the defence. Every team needs a player like that. The fans could see how important he was at the time, they loved his style of play when he went into tackles and won the ball. He was certainly appreciated by the rest of the squad, that’s for sure.”
- Joined us from Wigan in January, 2009
- Made 82 appearances for us in all competitions, 2009-11
- Only scored once, in a 5-1 win at Hull in August, 2009
- Started both matches as we reached the UCL group stage via the play-offs against Young Boys in August, 2010
- Started the famous win against Milan in the San Siro in the last 16 of the UCL in February, 2011
- Joined Stoke in 2011 and then Miami in 2016
- Capped 97 times by Honduras, appeared at 2010 and 2014 World Cups