It’s hard to wipe the smile off Nacer Chadli’s face these days. If he’s not baring all to raise awareness for male cancer, he is finding the net for Tottenham and proudly reminding us they have never lost when he’s scored.
It’s a far cry from last season when Chadli contemplated quitting Tottenham after just one season. Prevailing injuries and a difference of opinion all conspired to leave the Belgium international thinking he might be better off plying his trade somewhere else.
“It was a bit of everything really. I didn’t have a good pre-season, I was forced to train alone and I got injured in the first two months.
“I found it difficult to get back to full fitness, the manager [Andre Villas-Boas] obviously didn’t fancy me and all in all it proved very frustrating.
“I couldn’t find my feet, I wasn’t happy, I didn’t feel I fitted in and I did start to wonder whether I would be better off going somewhere else.”
In fairness, while the midfielder admits there were clubs ready to take him, Tottenham never gave him any incentive to leave or wanted him to go.
“It’s true I never heard from the chairman, the manager or the technical director. They never said I was for sale or wanted me to leave. Maybe that is a blessing in disguise because I feel I have a second chance and if I look at how things have gone for me personally, I couldn’t be happier.
“I feel so much better in myself this season. I’m much fitter. In fact, I don’t think I have been so fit and I’m reaping the rewards.
“But I don’t take anything for granted. I want to improve and believe I will under the new manager. I also want to win things. I came here to be a success and I strongly believe when we really get going that success will come.
Mind you, if Chadli never scores another goal again, his celebration against arch-rivals Arsenal, when he opened the scoring at the Emirates, will ensure he stays an iconic figure for some years to come.
Players, fans and pundits instantly leapt to his defence after he was booked for over-elaborate celebrations when he ran towards the Arsenal fans cupping his ear.
“I’ll take the booking even though I didn’t think it was right. What is wrong with a bit of passion? Is it a crime? It was a north London derby and the best game you can score in if you’re a player or Tottenham fan.”
It’s been an indifferent start for Tottenham and Chadli accepts that they need to improve – “We need to find our feet and consistency.” Hopefully that will start with three points against Stoke, though it won’t be easy. “They’re a physical side so we will have to work hard.”
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