Remembering Rebrov: A warning from history for AVB and Spurs

Sergei Rebrov was a transfer to forget for Tottenham – will any of the summer’s recruits follow a similar path?

Tottenham’s summer spending may have been overshadowed by the departure of Gareth Bale, but in the space of a few short months the Lilywhites broke their club transfer record three times.

Paulinho, Roberto Soldado and Erik Lamela each arrived for fees ranging from £17 to £30 million and while funded by the cash received from Real, Spurs fans would be wise to recall one previous foray into the global football transfer market: Sergei Rebrov.

The Ukrainian arrived at White Hart Lane in May 2000 with the kind of reputation akin to the likes of Lamela and Soldado - and rightly so.

In his last two seasons with Dynamo Kiev, he had emerged as one of the hottest strikers in Europe, lining up alongside Andriy Shevchenko in a side that reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in 1999.

The following season saw Rebrov shine again, scoring 18 in 20 league games and a further ten in Europe’s premier cup competition – the joint highest that year.

Like Roma and Valencia this summer, Kiev saw an opportunity to cash in with Shevchenko duly signing for Milan while Spurs won the race to land Rebrov, paying £11 million.

It was nearly double the record fee paid for Les Ferdinand back in 1997, with the Ukrainian given a £25,000-a-week deal that was among the heftiest in those halcyon days.

Much like the fanfare that has greeted the arrivals of Soldado and Lamela, media outlets were gushing with praise for the player with BBC Sport declaring that the move marked the end of “a long quest by Tottenham to capture a top-class goalscorer.”

Spurs had previously been linked with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, pre-Leeds Mark Viduka and even John Hartson – and in hindsight they would have happily taken any of the three.

In his first four games Rebrov mustered one goal. Relax, fans thought, Bergkamp took his time with Arsenal and look how that ended up.

Even after he ended his first season with nine goals in 29 league appearances, some felt it was just a matter of getting over injuries and adjusting to the English game.

When the following campaign bore just a single strike in 30 domestic matches, the Tottenham hierarchy had seen enough, with Rebrov sent out on loan to Fenerbahce where he failed to rediscover his scoring touch.

Spells with West Ham, Dynamo Kiev and Rubin Kazan following with the forward last seen offering Roman Pavlyuchenko some rather racist advice on how to navigate the streets of London.

While the likes of Soldado and Lamela are unlikely to follow a similar path, it’s important to remember that, when it comes to big transfers from abroad, for every Van der Vaart, there are plenty of Rebrovs.

images: © apasciuto, © Victor Gutierrez Navarro, © hollidaypics, © justinlim

Register for TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch