Van der Vaart promises Tottenham: 'I'm a nice guy'

Harry Redknapp has previous with Dutchmen and caravans, but then Rafael van der Vaart has somewhat better credentials than Marco Boogers, the unfortunate striker who belongs in English football folklore.

Tottenham unveiled Van der Vaart at their training ground yesterday; an £8m signing from Real Madrid and fresh from winning his 84th cap for the world's second-best side. Boogers managed to play all of 83 minutes for Redknapp's West Ham in 1995 before infamously retreating back home to his caravan and footballing anonymity. Van der Vaart, the son of a Dutch father and Spanish mother, spent his childhood in a caravan before learning his trade at Ajax and becoming one of Europe's most coveted playmakers.

But that is not the only reputation that has accompanied him to north London. After being taken off during the Netherlands' 2-1 win over Finland on Tuesday he had no qualms in attacking Bert van Marwijk, the Dutch coach, for his decision. He is not the first Dutch player to be known for strong opinions and his response yesterday when asked if he was a troublemaker was one of surprise. "No, no, no. I'm a nice guy," exclaimed the 27-year-old.

Van der Vaart lived in a caravan for the first 10 years of his life. He bought his parents their first house while he was at Ajax. "My father was born [in a caravan], it's my family's normal lifestyle," said Van der Vaart. "I always liked it. I played football in the street all the time – it was an easy life when you are 10 years old. It was really strange for us living in a normal house."

Van der Vaart will be in the Tottenham squad for tomorrow's game at West Bromwich Albion and he is relishing the chance to become the latest Dutch import to the Premier League. "It was a surprise but I'm happy," he said of the transfer from Madrid. "There was some interest from Germany but I preferred to go to England. It was an easy decision. Madrid was a difficult place to play. I was only there two years but had four different managers. It was difficult – you want to play so it was better to just leave. It is a good match, Dutch players playing in England."

He follows the likes of Dennis Bergkamp – "an idol" – Ruud van Nistelrooy and Robin van Persie, another current international team-mate, to the Premier League, and he could find himself playing against Van Persie's side in two weeks when Spurs meet Arsenal in the Carling Cup.

"I have already spoken with Robin – he said it is the greatest derby in the world," said Van der Vaart. "Arsenal have a great team but I think our squad is no worse. We can finish above them."

Van der Vaart wants to play in the hole behind a single or pair of strikers and Redknapp may well use him in that role away from home, especially in the Champions League. He will not though be playing behind Jermain Defoe for the next month and a half. "It's his ankle," said Redknapp, of the injury Defoe sustained on England duty. "He will be out for six weeks or so because it's a bad one."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Environment
The plant ‘Nepenthes zygon’ was donated to Kew in 2004
environment
News
This artist impression shows a modern-day Atlantis
news
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer snapped celebrities for 40 years - but it wasn’t all fun and games
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital