NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 255
Submitted by Norman Giller
Many moons ago – it was the 1960s – I hung on Alan Gilzean the sobriquet ‘Nureyev on grass.’ Now, here in the 21st Century, Dele Alli has moved me to call him ‘a footballing Barynishnikov’ because of his balletic movement and graceful gait on and off the ball.
I closely monitored his silken performance in Saturday’s late-late show at Leicester, and as well as his 67 passes I counted three nutmegs (not nutcrackers) as he pirouetted past tackles and just one attempt at a dying swan dive, something he has thankfully all but cut out of his game.
His pas de deux with the irrepressible Sonny on the second goal – his 50th for Spurs – was a flashback to his first goal in a Lilywhite shirt. Yes, a diving header against Leicester at the King Power stadium, as described HERE by our Spurs Odyssey guru Paul H. Smith.
There is always a little harmless mischief in Dele, and he just could not resist tweeting after the match his thanks to Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel “for being there for the first and 50th goals.”
We must not take this cockiness away from Dele, because it gives an edge to his game. It’s difficult to realise that he is still only 22 and has already been more productive from his midfield post than master players Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes at the same career stage.
Dele is so much like Alan Gilzean with his movement, a gazelle of a player who is upright, two-footed and can visualise what is happening on the periphery of the action. You cannot teach players these gifts. The likes of Gilly and Dele are natural-born footballers. To have one come along in your lifetime is great, two is a banquet.
The fact that Mauricio Pochettino dared start the game without key men Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen underlines how much he is staking on Tuesday’s must-win match in Barcelona.
I am sure he will have been persuaded to play Belgium buddies Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld side by side after their dominant display against a Leicester team that missed the thrusting runs of Jamie Vardy.
Barca are considered unbeatable at the Nou Camp in the Champions’ League, but you can bet Spurs are going to give it everything they’ve got before returning home to continue their stirring challenge for the Premier League title.
To return to the ballet theme, Spurs must be on their toes tomorrow (Tuesday).
Let’s hope it’s not the final curtain.
Question No 17 in this 2018-19 SOQL season:
Who has been capped 84 times, has played in Holland and Spain, and against which team did he score his first goal for Tottenham in a 4-1 victory?
Please email your answer to me at SOQL17@normangillerbooks.com. Deadline: midnight this Friday. I will respond to all who take part.
This year’s prizes for the champion: A framed Harry Kane autographed picture, two books from my Spurs collection with autographs from Jimmy Greaves, Steve Perryman and Dave Mackay, and (most precious of all) a framed certificate announcing the winner as SOQL champion.
Last week I asked: Which midfielder has been capped 56 times, and after leaving Spurs won the domestic double in Spain? From which club did he join Tottenham in the summer of 2013?
More than 60 of you were on the ball with Paulhino, an enigmatic player who joined Spurs from Corinthians in the wake of Gareth Bale’s departure to Real. He has since been a powerhouse in Spain and China.
Please keep a check on your scores. I will be trusting you to count your points as I do not have faith in my email server.
Thank you for taking part. See you back here same time, same place next week. Keep the faith. COYS!
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