JURGEN KLINSMANN finished at Tottenham as he started - with a self- mocking, full-length dive to celebrate his classical goal scoring. On a day of farewells at White Hart Lane, the German captain took centre stage to leave on an upbeat note before club skipper Gary Mabbutt, after 16 years and 619 appearances, received the loudest and fondest cheer of the day by taking the armband for the final nine minutes.
The success of Klinsmann's return to Spurs can ultimately be gauged by the fact that he scored nine goals in 15 Premiership appearances to help ensure the team avoided relegation.
Of course, scoring five goals in his last week as a Tottenham player will have done his prospects of starting for Germany against the United States on 15 June no great harm. The advancing years mean he is no longer the player he was when he first started joyously parodying his reputation for unfairly gaining free-kicks, in front of the Spurs fans, but yesterday he played with a zest and belief that suggest he is reaching a timely peak for the World Cup finals.
Mabbutt's relationship with Spurs has invariably run a much smoother course but, 37 this summer, his wish to continue playing means it is time to move on. David Howells, not granted a playing part yesterday, also took his curtain call after the final whistle of yesterday's almost celebratory occasion.
Winning at Wimbledon last week allowed the Tottenham fans to relax, free of relegation concerns, for the first time in some while and David Ginola took his cue to adorn the game with his party tricks. If it was a tight call who most deserves a World Cup call between Matthew Le Tissier and Darren Anderton yesterday, then Ginola looked in classier form than either.
Le Tissier wandered and whinged for much of yesterday's mid-table meanderings, but yet again came up with a magical moment. His hesitation before taking a 21st minute free kick distracted Ian Walker in Tottenham's goal and allowed Le Tissier to shoot low into the corner to give Southampton the lead.
Klinsmann was not going to be outdone however, and six minutes later, when Les Ferdinand chested the ball down into his path, Tottenham's most famous number 33 volleyed high into the top corner from outside the penalty area. Then, for the last time in Spurs white, he took to earth with glee.
Goals: Le Tissier (21) 1-0; Klinsmann (27) 1-1.
Tottenham Hotspur 4-4-2: Walker, Carr, Calderwood (Mabbutt, 81), Campbell, Nielsen, Fox, Anderton, Berti (Saib, 58), Ginola, Klinsmann, Ferdinand. Substitutes not used: Grodas (gk), Armstrong, Scales,
Southampton 4-3-1-2: Jones; Dodd, Lundekvam, Dryden, Benali; Oakley, Palmer, Beresford (Richardson, 80); Le Tissier; Ostenstad, Hirst (Basham, 82). Substitutes not used: Moss (g), Gibbens, Warner.
Man of the Match: Ginola.
Referee: P Jones (Leicestershire).