When Tottenham sold Rafael van der Vaart last summer to Hamburg SV it was something of a surprise considering his obvious mercurial talents. Something of a cult hero at the club for his innate footballing ability he had also been a controversial figure at times with the club.
In 2011 he clashed with Harry Redknapp over being played out on the wing rather than his preferred and more suitable position in the hole behind the striker.
Redknapp afterwards exclaimed:
‘’Yes, it does seem to be a problem. Rafa can't run back and chase the full-back. Against the better teams it is a problem … Rafa is a terrific footballer. He has great skill. But if you're in the team and asked to do a job, really, you should just do it.’’
Indeed RVDV was never the fittest or fastest of players and perhaps it was this that saw Andre Villas-Boas quite clearly tout him out to other clubs; before he eventually joined his former club Hamburg.
But it seems the battle of the bulge has continued with the Dutch international; as a summer without a major international competition has seen him top the scales a little on the big side according to reports in Germany.
Hamburg manager Thorsten Fink stated - ‘’It is clear that some have slightly increased during the holidays.’’ He reportedly said it with a wry smile so he seems relaxed that pre-season training will help bring it back to normal.
RVDV feels the same way; stating:
‘’I have just been on the scales. I need to get back down quickly. That was a little too much. But if you have four, or five weeks of vacation it is also sometimes good to enjoy yourself.’’
But some people are just big-boned Rafa.
Former Wales assistant and a man who has worked with him previously Rayond Verheijen said this about the 30-year-old playmaker in 2010.
“He is not overweight. I knew him as a kid. I worked with him in 2001 when I assisted the Dutch Under-20 team at the World Cup in Argentina and that is the way he is built.’’
Trust me Rafa I know how it feels. I was dubbed 2011 ‘biggest gainer’ at University after a diet of booze, biscuits and burgers (the three B’s) finally caught up with me in my final year.
But we always have July to hit the gym and trim down; and if not we can always just say we are simply big-boned.
image: © Jan S0L0