Rafael reveals Real gratitude
Rafael Van der Vaart admits he owes former club Real Madrid for creating his superstar status.
By Simone Bargellini
Last Updated: 15/02/11 7:58pm
Tottenham playmaker Rafael Van der Vaart admits he owes former club Real Madrid for creating his superstar status.
The 28-year-old has been a revelation since he moved to North London from the Spanish giants last August, after becoming surplus to requirements.
Van der Vaart came to England with a big reputation and has lived up to his star billing, netting 12 goals in 23 starts for the Premier League high-fliers.
The Dutchman confesses his decision to quit the Bernabeu was not an easy one, and believes the presence of compatriots during his time there limited his playing time.
"It was hard to leave Madrid. Madrid is a fantastic place, a club amongst the strongest in the world," Van der Vaart told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
"There were so many players - me, Wesley [Sneijder], [Arjen] Robben - we hadn't got the space we thought we had.
"Real Madrid gave me money, a chance to be famous, playing big matches. I will always be grateful to them."
The former Ajax and Hamburg ace has no regrets over his decision to leave, however, and he believes England's top flight offers a bigger variety of top teams.
"London has been a restart," he said. "The Premier League is more varied than La Liga, where there is only Real and Barca.
"Here, you are fighting harder to win points. Spurs are a team that plays good football and has many great players.
"If we play together for a few years we can become a great team," he added.
Van der Vaart has travelled to Italy, where Tottenham continue their UEFA Champions League adventure against AC Milan on Tuesday.
Having beaten holders Inter at White Hart Lane in the group stages, Van der Vaart has high hopes ahead of their San Siro second-round showdown with the seven-time winners.
"With Milan it will be a very open game, but we beat Inter Milan so we know we can beat AC Milan," he said.
"And then the second match at home gives us a great advantage. I think everyone should fear to play at White Hart Lane."
Having played in England and Spain, Van der Vaart has not ruled out the possibility of a move to Serie A, but for now he is fully committed to Tottenham.
He said: "Who knows, before retiring a lot can happen. But right now I'm in London and I hope that Tottenham want to keep me for many years."