Dimitar Berbatov signed for Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2006, despite some interest from United. Speaking to ESPN ahead of our game against them today, Berba has discussed how that transfer came about and what life was like playing for Martin Jol at the north London club.
My agent said we’d had a serious offer from Tottenham. I said: ‘Who?’ I was watching German football, not English. There were rumours of Man United’s interest too. I’d definitely heard of United, but they told me I was effectively a second choice if another player didn’t happen. So I took the offer to move to London, which I loved, and play for Spurs, who I grew to love.
In Martin Jol, I saw my grandfather. He was a big man and you think he’s a tough guy, but underneath he is a kind man. I knew immediately that I could have a good relationship with him. It took me a couple of months to get used to English football, to adjust to the speed and the physical side but, when the chance came, I came off the bench to score two goals against Fulham.
Berbatov was well liked at Spurs, scoring 46 goals in 102 appearances in all competitions, but the attention he received from them made him feel awkward.
Spurs fans liked me. When I heard them singing my name I thought: ‘What the fuck? Why are they singing for me?’ I didn’t like that attention. Some players do, but I was embarrassed and thinking: ‘Please, please shut up.’ I don’t know why I felt like that but, when my family wanted to come and watch me play, I always asked that they didn’t come to the stadium. Sometimes I had to be tough and say: ‘No, you’re not coming.’ Even my father. He knows I prefer him to watch me on television, without the pressure of having to perform if they come to the stadium.