Scott Sutter ecstatic at Tottenham Hotspur chance
AT White Hart Lane on Saturday there was an emotional parade by surviving members of Tottenham's 1961 double-winning team.
Time and football move on and those old heroes, who later reached the European Cup semi-final, may be surprised to learn that as Spurs return to the competition almost half a century later, not only is tonight's final qualifying round first leg being played on an artificial pitch but the only North London boy stepping onto it will be appearing for the opposition.
Scott Sutter, the 20-year-old right-back of Young Boys Bern, was born in Enfield and brought up there as a Tottenham supporter, with Juergen Klinsmann as his hero. Four years ago, his Swiss father Werner moved the family to his native country where Scott endured two seasons hampered by achilles injuries with the Zurich club Grasshoppers.
Now in his second year in Bern, he is fully recovered and is an important member of the side, who has played for Switzerland's under-19 and under-21 teams.
“He has great tactical and technical qualities,” said Young Boys' Bosnian coach Vladimir Petkovic yesterday. Sutter recalled:
“It was amazing for me when I was watching the draw with my dad and the first two names out were us and Tottenham,” he said. “I jumped up and punched the air. The club I support and where I once had a season-ticket. Now I can finally play at White Hart Lane. It couldn't get any better.”
It could for Young Boys officials, eyeing a lucrative passage into the Champions' League proper for the first time; the club's sporting director Alain Baumann described the draw as “the worst we could have.”
Tottenham are widely regarded here as potentially too strong for a team who only lost the Swiss League to Basel on the final day of last season but then sold their leading scorer Seydou Doumbia (50 goals in two seasons) to CSKA Moscow.
They have already missed him badly, scoring only five times in as many league games to stand seventh out of ten teams following a home defeat by struggling Neuchatel Xamax on Saturday.
After being held 2-2 at home by Fenerbahce in the previous round, Young Boys won the away leg 1-0, earning the respect of the Spurs manager Harry Redknapp.
“We looked at the video of them against Fenerbahce and they absolutely battered them at home, they could have beaten them by six,” he said.
Redknapp's main concern appears to be the artificial pitch on which Spurs trained last night. Yet Young Boys have played three home games since a new version was laid down, and not won any of them.
The surface did affect Redknapp's decision about including Ledley King, whose knee, he felt, would not respond well to it.
Sebastien Bassong is therefore likely to make his European debut alongside Michael Dawson in defence.
King remains reluctant to accept that he cannot play two games in a week and he can only hope that Spurs will progress to the group stage.