Tottenham On This Day: Return Of Jurgen Klinsmann


Klinsmann scores against West Ham in second spell with Spurs [Photo: Logan Holmes]

28th December, 1997

After just one season with Tottenham, Jurgen Klinsmann left as quickly as he’d arrived. Spurs failure to qualify for European football gave him the opportunity to leave and join Bayern Munich. Aggrieved by the departure of his ‘star’ signing, Alan Sugar appeared on television with a Klinsmann shirt and threw it away in disgust saying that he wouldn’t wash his car with it.

Klinsmann’s view of the incident

Interviewed by Andrew Anthony for an article in the Observer in 2004, Klinsmann gave his thoughts on Alan Sugar.

‘No, I admired him,’ Klinsmann replied. ‘When people were asking for more expensive or exciting players he stayed focused on the development of the club. He rebuilt White Hart Lane to make it one of the most beautiful grounds in England. He saw the big picture. The only little issue I had with him is that he thought I had a two-year deal but it was a one-year deal with a two-year option. He got upset, but no big problem.’

Thirty months on, Sugar and Klinsmann put their differences behind them and Klinsmann made his return to White Hart Lane. The club and the player had different objectives for this alliance – Spurs were struggling under Christian Gross and had suffered a 6 – 1 home defeat to Chelsea at the beginning of December followed by a 4-goal defeat at Coventry and a 4 – 1 defeat at Villa on Boxing Day. They were facing a long battle against relegation and were hoping Klinsmann could ignite their season as he had done in 1994-95. Klinsmann had been struggling with injuries and had played little football for Sampdoria in Italy so was looking for regular matches to gain full fitness to ensure his place in the German squad for the following summer’s World Cup finals.

Klinsmann’s second spell with Tottenham started on this day with a home game in the north London derby.

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Arsenal 1

The ‘Prodigal’s’ return didn’t prove as exciting or as successful as his first coming. Having suffered three heavy defeats in recent weeks, Spurs were satisfied with a point, although they took the lead after thirty minutes through Allan Neilsen, assisted by Klinsmann. Arsenal equalised after an hour from a deflected shot. 

The season was one long struggle – Christian Gross was new to English football, there were constant reports of strife within the club and it was only late in the season that relegation was avoided – Klinsmann’s four goals at Wimbledon ensuring their safety and then he was gone – again.

From the earlier article an assessment of Klinsmann’s second spell with Tottenham,

‘Tottenham wooed him again, in 1997-98, for one final fling. But, as in so many rekindled romances, it wasn’t quite the same. The magic had gone. And after captaining Germany in the 1998 World Cup, he retired from European football.’