Jurgen Klinsmann made his Premier League debut for Tottenham on this day, 20th August, 1994. A few weeks earlier, Spurs had surprised everyone when they announced that they had signed the German World Cup winner from Monaco for £2 million. His League debut was awaited with great expectations. It was like a re-run of sixteen years earlier, when in 1978 Tottenham had signed Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa, the demand for tickets for Spurs games, including pre-season friendlies, was phenomenal and his competitive debut against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough was no exception.
The signing of Klinsmann gave Tottenham a lift as they struggled to grapple with the consequences of the harsh punishment handed out by the Football Association over financial irregularities under the previous regime at White Hart Lane. Alan Sugar was particularly annoyed as he and the club had come forward to the authorities when the problem had been uncovered. Over time the punishment was reduced from an initial twelve point reduction to six by the start of the season and eventually to none, the FA Cup ban was lifted and the club’s fine increased.
With the signing of Klinsmann there was a buzz of anticipation around the club as the new season approached.
Sheffield Wednesday 3 Tottenham Hotspur 4
Tottenham Scorers: Sheringham, Anderton, Barmby, Klinsmann
What a debut for Klinsmann! Pre-match the discussion was about who of the Tottenham players would miss out, now that Klinsmann had been signed. Manager, Ossie Ardiles resolved the problem by starting the game with all of his ‘famous five’ attacking players – Klinsmann, Teddy Sheringham, Nicky Barmby, Darren Anderton and Ilie Dumitrescu. Klinsmann and Dumitrescu were making their debuts and the line-up suggested that Spurs were looking to attack and that it would be an exciting game – no-one was to be disappointed. Sol Campbell and Stuart Nethercott started in central defence with Colin Calderwood playing a defensive shielding role in central midfield. Ardiles commenting after the match said,
“I made my decision to play all five forwards over a week ago…..Spurs have always had a reputation for boldness, for creation, for entertaining, attacking football. One of my goals is to restore that.”
Tottenham went two ahead in the first half through Sheringham after 18 minutes and Anderton with half an hour played. Klinsmann had a hand in both, being involved in the initial play which led to the goals. After twenty minutes of the second half, however, Wednesday were level but Barmby restored the lead five minutes later with an exquisite strike from a flick on by Sheringham.
With nine minutes left came the moment everyone had been waiting for – Klinsmann scored Tottenham’s fourth when Anderton’s cross from the right enabled him to mark his debut with a headed goal despatched at close range. To celebrate his goal, Klinsmann hurled himself into a full-length swallow dive with perfect landing across the Hillsborough pitch, followed by his team mates, a mischievous acknowledgement to his critics who had spent much time debating his reputation for diving to win free-kicks and penalties. Tottenham’s visiting fans were in full cry, their joy unconfined at that momentous occasion.
The drama continued as Wednesday pulled a goal back and then Klinsmann was carried off on a stretcher after a clash of heads with Wednesday’s England defender, Des Walker. The injury proved not to be too serious and Tottenham’s new hero was fit to make his home debut in mid-week against Everton.
Team: Walker; Kerslake, Campbell (Mabbutt), Nethercott, Edinburgh; Calderwood; Anderton, Dumitrescu (Hazard), Barmby; Klinsmann, Sheringham
Klinsmann formed an exciting goal scoring partnership with Teddy Sheringham throughout that season. Commenting after his debut match, Klinsmann spoke about playing for Tottenham,
“That is what I like about playing for Tottenham. We go for it!”
Unfortunately, his season with Spurs didn’t produce any silverware for the club and he departed after just one year. His second coming for five months from the end of December, 1997 was less spectacular or successful although he did play his part in helping Spurs to avoid relegation at the end of the season.
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