Spurs hit by tragedy and a tear-up

TOTTENHAM’S hopes of playing in Europe next season were all but snuffed out by this result, but even that disappointment failed to register on a wretched weekend for the north London club.

First, their preparations for this trip to Merseyside suffered the most traumatic of disruptions when midfielder Wilson Palacios was informed of the apparent murder of his teenage brother in Honduras. Then, yesterday, club captain Ledley King was forced to issue an embarrassing apology after being arrested and bailed following a fracas outside a London nightclub.

King’s misdemeanour could hardly have been worse timed, given the tragedy that struck Palacios early on Saturday morning,

The £14million signing flew home later on Saturday after what are thought to be the remains of his 16-year-old brother, Edwin, were discovered 150 miles from the capital Tegucigalpa.

Edwin, the youngest of five football-playing brothers, was seized by armed kidnappers from his home in the coastal town of La Ceiba following Wilson’s move to Birmingham in August 2007. He moved to Wigan in January 2008.

Palacios left the Spurs team hotel in Liverpool ahead of the club’s draw at Everton and club sources confirmed that they do not expect him to play again this season.

It is the second tragedy to strike White Hart Lane this month, after Jermain Defoe’s half-brother Jade, 26, was attacked and killed in an east London street. “It is quite amazing and tragic that two of our players have suffered the loss of a relative like this within a couple of weeks of each other,” Redknapp said.

“Wilson heard from his family at one in the morning what had happened, and his brothers, I believe, have identified the body.

“He sat around the hotel lobby with his case packed until 7am because he didn’t want to wake me. I’m amazed with him. But we organised for him to be driven back to London so he could get a flight home.

“You couldn’t wish for a more calm and likeable lad, football is not really that important after this.”

Redknapp was quickly forced to deal with another off-field matter when King spent several hours in police custody after being arrested on suspicion of occasioning actual bodily harm on Wahib Butt, a bouncer outside Punk nightclub in Soho.

Mr Butt alleged that King punched him in the face after he refused to let him in because “he was so drunk”. He also claimed the defender subjected him to racist and homophobic abuse.

“He started calling me Paki,” Mr Butt told Sky News. “He was saying to me about I’m a fag, I’m earning less than him, he’s a rich guy, so he’s got nothing to lose, but I’ve got everything to lose.”

King was forced to issue an apology by the club via their website last night, although that is unlikely to spare him from disciplinary action, with the England international set to be fined two weeks’ wages, around €120,000.

“I sincerely regret that a night out with friends went too far,” he said. “I have apologised to Harry and I fully appreciate that, as a professional footballer, I have a duty to behave in a responsible manner.

“I am assisting the police with their enquiries. Anyone who knows me, knows that much of what has been suggested is totally out of character.

“I am keen to resolve this as soon as possible and concentrate on my football. I shall be putting my all into ensuring I give of my best for the remaining fixtures.”Tottenham’s problems completely overshadowed a dreadful game at Goodison Park, which will only be remembered with any affection by Tim Howard, the Everton goalkeeper, who smashed Neville Southall’s 13-year-old club record as he chalked up his 16th league clean sheet of the campaign.

Howard admitted he would glady exchange all 16 for one more shut-out in the FA Cup final against Chelsea.

“That’s the one I really want,” Howard, 30, said. “We’re all desperate to win some silverware for Everton.”

EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard 6, Neville 7, Yobo 6, Lescott 7, Baines 6, Gosling 6 (Osman 69, 5), Rodwell 5, Cahill 6, Pienaar 7, Fellaini 5, Jo 5 (Saha 69, 5).

Subs Not Used: Nash, Castillo, Vaughan, Jacobsen, Wallace.

TOTTENHAM (4-4-2): Gomes 6, Corluka 6, King 7, Woodgate 8, Bale 6, Hutton 6, Huddlestone 6, Jenas 6, Modric 5 (Pavlyuchenko 81, 5), Keane 6, Defoe 6.

Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Bentley, Gunter, Campbell, Chimbonda, Rose.

REFEREE: Lee Mason (Lancashire) 6: Nothing overly controversial here.

MATCH RATING: * Disappointing, although football was the last thing on the minds of Tottenham’s players.

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