The Spurs players who wore masks
Thu 31 October 2019, 10:10|Tottenham Hotspur
Halloween revellers and trick-or-treaters are stepping out in flamboyant masks as part of their seasonal disguises this week – but sometimes elite sports players need them for a very different reason.
Over the years, a number of our players have used specially-designed protective face gear to enable them to play on after injury.
We take a look back through the archives to find photos of the hardy individuals who represented us with masks on...
1. Gary Mabbutt
Iconic former skipper Gary Mabbutt was as resilient as they come. A battle-hardened defender, the Bristolian gave everything in our cause over an incredible 16-year Spurs playing career that encompassed UEFA Cup glory in 1984 and saw him lift the FA Cup as captain in 1991.
Unfortunately, he suffered his fair share of injuries along the way, including a broken leg on the opening day of the 1996/97 season, but it was during 1993/94 that he took to the field looking decidedly different to usual. Our 1-1 home draw with Wimbledon in November, 1993, infamously saw Mabbsy fracture his cheekbone in a clash with John Fashanu, ruling him out for three months.
After being cleared to return to action, he resurfaced in a reserve game against Chelsea in February, 1994, sporting a light-coloured protective face mask and, a couple of weeks later, debuted it in the Premier League on his return to first team action against the same club in a 4-3 defeat at Stamford Bridge.
2. Goran Bunjevcevic
The late Goran Bunjevcevic was fondly remembered when we faced his former side Crvena zvezda (Red Star Belgrade) in the Champions League just last week.
A calm, ball-playing defender, Goran joined us from Red Star in 2001 and stayed for five years, even dropping down to captain our reserve team to the FA Premier Reserve League South title in his final season with us. Tragically, he passed away on 28 June, 2018, at the age of 45, after a month-long battle in hospital following an aneurysm.
He qualifies for our list of masked campaigners after turning out for the reserves in a light brown face protector in October, 2001. He suffered a fractured cheekbone in a top-flight match against Chelsea the previous month but returned in a 2-2 draw with West Ham reserves at Stevenage on 16 October wearing said mask. By the time he returned to first team duties in a League Cup tie at Fulham on 29 November, he was mask-free.
3. Vlad Chiriches
Romanian defender Vlad Chiriches spent two years with us between 2013 and 2015 – and scored his one and only Premier League goal wearing a protective face mask.
After suffering a broken nose in our 1-0 home defeat to Newcastle in November, 2013, he debuted the mask on international duty the following week as Romania took on Greece in a World Cup qualification play-off in Bucharest.
He returned to action for us in a 2-0 Europa League victory over Norwegian side Tromso at the end of that month wearing the same apparatus and, after also featuring in a subsequent 2-2 home draw with Manchester United back on the domestic scene, he whacked home a low shot from distance in a 2-1 win over Fulham on 4 December to open his Premier League account. By the time he next appeared in the top flight in a 3-2 win at Southampton three days before Christmas, he’d shed the mask. Vlad currently plays for Sassuolo, on loan from fellow Italian side Napoli.
4. Harry Kane
Who can forget the sight of Harry Kane bending in a stunning goal against Arsenal from the side of the box before sprinting away in joyous celebration while ripping off his protective mask at White Hart Lane?
That iconic moment came in our 2-2 north London derby draw in March, 2016 – the penultimate season at our fabled former home – and was one of five goals our homegrown hitman scored wearing his translucent face gear during that period.
He’d suffered a broken nose in an FA Cup tie against Crystal Palace in February, 2016, and debuted the mask in a 2-1 home win over Swansea at the end of that month, then wore it in a narrow loss at West Ham before we took on the Gunners. In all, Harry played six games with the mask on, before normal service was resumed in a 1-1 draw at Liverpool on 2 April.
5. Kieran Trippier
It was the first week of November, 2016, when Kieran Trippier took a knock in training in the build-up to the north London derby at the Emirates. When he emerged onto the pitch for the last 10 minutes in place of Kyle Walker in said fixture, he was required to wear a black protective mask.
The right-back helped us see out a 1-1 draw on that occasion before appearing off the bench at the end of our 3-2 home win over West Ham a couple of weeks later – the game in which Harry Winks memorably scored his first Premier League goal – sporting it once more.
England international ‘Trips’ subsequently wore the mask for a third and final match when we lost 2-1 at Monaco in the Champions League on 22 November. Kieran left us earlier this year for Atletico Madrid.
6. Josh Onomah
Academy product Josh Onomah made his 32nd and final first team appearance for us under the cover of a face mask in April, 2017.
Also spotted in training wearing the see-through protector during that month, in addition to being seen in the warm-up with it prior to our 3-1 win at Swansea on 5 April when he served as an unused substitute, the midfielder came on to replace two-goal Heung-Min Son in the 88th minute of a fine 4-0 home win over Watford on 8 April.
It had been an unusual day for Josh all-round because he wasn’t even initially named on the bench against the Hornets. However, after Victor Wanyama picked up an injury in the warm-up, Josh stepped up from the role of 19th man for what turned out to be his Spurs swansong.
He would spend the next two seasons on loan at Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday respectively before making a permanent switch to Fulham during this past summer.
7. Josie Green
Central midfielder Josie Green is in the midst of her fourth season in the Spurs Women first team and has captained the side on a handful of occasions in the early stages of our debut campaign in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League (WSL).
The combative Wales international was a key member of the side that won promotion from the FA Women’s Championship last season but was required to wear a white protective mask during a handful of matches in the second half of that campaign.
Among her outings in the mask were the Women’s FA Cup clash with now-WSL rivals Manchester City in February and the league meeting with fellow promotion-chasers Manchester United at the end of March.
8. Jan Vertonghen
It was the night Lucas Moura wrote his name into Club folklore with a second-half hat-trick away to Ajax to send us through to last season’s Champions League Final.
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, we won 3-2 in Amsterdam with practically the last kick of the game to progress from the semi-final on away goals in sensational circumstances.
Belgian international defender and ex-Ajax star Jan Vertonghen started the second leg on 8 May wearing a protective face mask after suffering a nasal injury during the initial meeting with the Dutch giants at our new stadium a week prior. Thus, he was our most recent masked man – and there was no masking anyone’s excitement at the end of that incredible European night!