New Tottenham midfielder Rafael van der Vaart has revealed he did not leave Real Madrid a year ago because his wife had developed breast cancer.
Holland star Van der Vaart was set to be sold by the Spanish giants last summer but he refused to move on while model wife Sylvie was undergoing what proved to be successful treatment.
Van der Vaart also shed light on the discrepancy between Spurs boss Harry Redknapp’s claim that he had been the subject of an £18m bid from Bayern Munich last month, and Real’s insistence that he had not been, by confirming the German giants made an offer for him but that it was not “concrete”.
Atletico Madrid did try to buy the 27-year-old, however, but Real did not want to sell to their city rivals, instead accepting Tottenham’s last-gasp £8m bid on transfer deadline day.
Van der Vaart told Marca: “Thank God my wife is now perfectly okay. She had a very serious illness and it is true that she had to be treated at the Clinica Quiron.
“Last season, they wanted me to leave but I couldn’t leave for that reason. Now she is well and the only thing that happened was that Madrid wanted to sell and I wanted to get back to enjoying playing football, and Tottenham are a great team that are going to give me the football opportunities that I need.”
Of Bayern’s interest, he added: “The offer from Bayern never ended up being concrete. In the end, only Atletico Madrid pushed but neither I nor the club wanted me to go there.”
There have been suggestions new Real boss Jose Mourinho was reluctant to let Van der Vaart leave and that sporting director Jorge Valdano was behind his departure.
Van der Vaart said: “I don’t want to speak badly about anybody – I have too much respect for the club.”
The midfielder added that he would love to return to the Bernabeu in what is Spurs’ debut Champions League season.
“It’s a shame that some Madrid fans were sad that I was sold but I’m sure we will see each other again soon,” he said.
“It would be a dream to go back to the Bernabeu with Tottenham. I would feel at home. It was sad for me to leave. I have a lot of good friends in the dressing room. The fans have always treated me well and I have a great opinion of Mourinho. He has won everything.”
Meanwhile, Heurelho Gomes reckons Tottenham’s feelgood factor can help them continue their progress in the Barclays Premier League and on into Europe.
Spurs finished fourth last season and Redknapp then safely guided his men into the lucrative group stages of the Champions League and a place among the elite clubs of European football.
When Tottenham’s players return from the international break next weekend, they will be looking to prove a shock 1-0 home defeat to struggling Wigan was a minor blip ahead of the European trip to Werder Bremen and the small matter of a Carling Cup clash against old rivals Arsenal.
Brazil keeper Gomes feels White Hart Lane is a good place to be at the moment.
“I love the atmosphere here,” Gomes said in the September edition of the official club magazine, ’Hotspur’.
“I try to build a good relationship with the supporters because I like to feel together as one with them. They make the club what it is.”
Gomes continued: “We operate in a very good atmosphere and that can only help. It ensures team unity and with it a feeling that anything and everything is possible. The team spirit here is great.
“It has to be that way because the Premier League is so tough. You must band together to succeed.”