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Rafael van der Vaart: Why everybody is talking about the Tottenham star

30 Oct 2010 00:24:53

Rafael van der Vaart: Why everybody is talking about the Tottenham star

Rafael van der Vaart has taken the Premier League by storm. The 27-year-old has scored goals for fun, delighted Tottenham fans and done it all in style. As he prepares to play at Old Trafford for the first time in his career today, Alex Kay talks to former Holland international Ruud Gullit and Van der Vaart's former manager at Ajax Ronald Koeman about the special talents that set him apart. Loved at the Lane: Van der Vaart INTELLIGENCE 'What makes him special is his intuition and his technical ability to turn in such small spaces. He has that in front of goal, too, and always seems to arrive in the danger area at the right moment. He can head the ball and he has great vision. There were so often moments in training and matches when he surprised me with some piece of skill.' - RUUD GULLIT 'He is so intelligent in that role behind the striker - he knows what he is going to do with the ball long before he has received it. I've always found with leftfooted players that they are special, that they have more feel for the ball.' - RONALD KOEMAN That intelligence has seen him find himself in positions to cause problems for goalkeepers and defenders and enabled him to get in plenty of shots. A PERFECT PARTNER 'His partnership with Peter Crouch has grown quickly and they are both benefiting from it. They need each other and Van der Vaart plays off Crouchie very well.' - GULLIT The stats back Gullit up. His partnerships with Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko have provided plenty of goals - for the pairings themselves and the team as a whole. Only Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane's record as a pair comes close to emulating that. LOVE 'He feels loved - and that is the most important thing for any player. At Real Madrid he was one of many good players and the fans were used to having that kind of class. But people at Tottenham really appreciate him and that makes him want to play even better.' - GULLIT 'What is important for him is to play every week and get used to that rhythm again. Tottenham may not be on the same level as Madrid but he can see people like him and that is so important for his confidence.' - KOEMAN THE NEW CANTONA? NO, RAFAEL'S THE NEW DENNIS 'Some people might say he reminds them of Eric Cantona, but Cantona was more of a striker. He is more of a Dennis Bergkamp-type player, sitting between the midfield and the defence.' - KOEMAN BET YOU FERGIE WOULD HAVE LOVED HIM... 'Playing at Old Trafford today is his kind of arena - he wants to play in these kind of games. Will the United fans wish he was playing for them? Well, if you are good enough to have played for Real Madrid, you are good enough to play for Manchester United. If you've played in a World Cup final, you are good enough to play for Manchester United.' - GULLIT 'He is good enough to play in any side in the world. He is one of the best players I have managed - and I have managed a lot of great players.' - KOEMAN Sky Sports pundit Ruud Gullit speaks ahead of the Champions League showdown between Tottenham Hotspur and Inter Milan which is exclusively live on Sky Sports HD2 and is also in 3D only on Sky Sports on Tuesday, kick-off 7.45pm.  Harry Redknapp backs Manchester United to push Chelsea all the way in Premier League title raceMan United v TOTTENHAM: Tom Huddlestone remains out along with captain Ledley King  Explore more:People: Robbie Keane, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe, Ronald Koeman Places: Madrid, The Netherlands


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