December 7 2013 Latest news:
Paddy Davitt, Norwich City Writer
Saturday, September 14, 2013
Sebastien Bassong hopes the best is yet to come in his football career, but Norwich City’s team captain will never forget the debt he owes Tottenham.
"I had some good and bad times and I am really happy to have gone through the bad times because I wouldn’t be the player I am today. The next couple of years in front of me will hopefully be good for me. I think they can be the best years of my career."
The 27-year-old retains a philosophical outlook when he reflects on a stint in north London that never quite fulfilled the rich early promise of a big-money switch from Newcastle. Bassong has flourished at Carrow Road under Chris Hughton’s guidance over these past 12 months, but the Cameroon international admits Spurs left an indelible mark.
“I had some good and bad times and I am really happy to have gone through the bad times because I wouldn’t be the player I am today,” he said. “The next couple of years in front of me will hopefully be good for me. I think they can be the best years of my career.
“For me, going back this time will be normal. Last year was a bit special as it was the first time, but this match is another game. They were great times for me at Spurs and I learned a lot. I was playing at the beginning, then not so much, then I was in the Champions League and playing with older players around me like Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgate and (William) Gallas. Harry Redknapp also gave me plenty of confidence and they all taught me so much.”
Bassong’s former Spurs’ team mate Gareth Bale may have departed for Real Madrid but the City defender insists Tottenham’s large-scale turnover on the playing staff makes them a formidable proposition. High class foreign imports have replaced domestic talent in the shape of Bale, Steven Caulker and Tom Huddlestone.
“They have been pretty busy this summer. They have brought some good players but Gareth of course is gone and it’s difficult to say if they are now going to be a better team,” said Bassong. “That is up to Andre (Villas-Boas) and how he handles his squad. He brought in some good players so I don’t think it is going to be a problem.
“I had a feeling that Tom was going to go because maybe last year it was looking like he would, and Steven is another good young English player, an international, a great talent. I don’t think you can replace someone like Bale. He is unique as a player and they might have to play differently now.
“They have certainly brought in quality from abroad. I know (Roberto) Soldado. I have watched a lot of Spanish football. He is a goalscorer, a threat in the box and we will have to be careful.
Tottenham’s support may well expect an early return on the club’s lavish spending against Chris Hughton’s squad.
“The challenge for us is still the same. We go there and we try to get some points,” said Bassong. “Everyone might think Spurs are going to win because they have a better team. That is true, but in one game of football you never know what can happen. There is no pressure when you play the top four or five teams like Spurs and Manchester United or Chelsea. They are expected to win. They are meant to be better than us so we just have to go and play our best and we can get something. Tottenham’s new players need time to adapt to the Premier League but when they get up to speed I think they will be really dangerous. It is hard to say if they will be ready in time this weekend. I hope they are not going to be.”
Bassong marked his first Premier League start of the new season by leading his side to a 1-0 win over Southampton after a summer disrupted by knee surgery.
“It was a big boost for us just before the international break. It meant we could work in a good mood,” he said. “I’ve played the last two games so I still need maybe a couple of games to get to my best level and get back upto speed.
“I’m feeling pretty good at the moment. I had the operation after the season and I came back and did all my rehab. It always takes a little while after surgery but I am training every day and looking after my knee.”