Tottenham Hotspur have been the nearly team for what feels like forever now. Under Mauricio Pochettino, they went so close to glory on so many occasions only to fall flat on their face at the last hurdle. The Spurs team between 2015 and 2019 was arguably the best Spurs team we have seen in Premier League history; they looked defensively astute with Jan Vertonghen at the back and had a clinical goalscorer in Harry Kane. Yet, once again, the season ended without glory.
That very team will be looked back on with fondness, but as Vertonghen becomes the latest to depart, the question arises of what could have been?
Jan Vertonghen: A Spurs Career to Remember
Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld: A Partnership Once Good Enough for Trophies at Tottenham
During the spell between 2015 and 2019, Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld formed one of the strongest centre-back partnerships in the league. In 2016, the two Belgians were particularly solid, conceding the fewest number of goals in the league.
The two defenders were part of a backline that shipped just 26 goals all season in the 2016/17 campaign. In comparison, the current champions, Liverpool, conceded 33 in the same period.
When it came to goals, too, Spurs had the most in that season. The fact is, they had all the tools available to become champions, but somehow ended the season with no trophy to lift and no glory to celebrate.
That Night in Amsterdam
Despite ending his Spurs career with no trophies, Jan Vertonghen can proudly say that he played a part in one of the best Champions League comebacks of all time. The game in Amsterdam against Ajax will live long in the memory of Spurs fans as they reached the Champions League final for the first time. It is not necessarily the occasion that will be remembered, however, but more so the way the occasion was won.
With Spurs needing three goals to secure a place in the final, Lucas Moura went on to secure not one, not two, but all three goals, with the third being the last kick of the game. It was a truly extraordinary way to secure a place in the final, and will forever be cemented into the Spurs history books.
The Beginning of the End in Madrid
Going into the Champions League final, Jan Vertonghen was 32; if he was going to win a major trophy at Spurs, the final in Madrid provided him with one last opportunity. Just a minute in, however, and Moussa Sissoko’s controversial handball led to Liverpool’s opener. Once again, after seemingly completing the most difficult part in Amsterdam, Spurs fell at the last hurdle.
Vertonghen and co took the runners up medal once again after losing 2-0 to Liverpool. The game signified the end of an era that could have seen so much glory at Spurs; it signalled the end of Vertongen’s peak at Spurs, leading to his exit this summer; it signalled the end of Mauricio Pochettino’s reign at Spurs; perhaps more importantly, though, it signalled the start of the Jose Mourinho era.
Jan Vertonghen’s exit is undoubtedly a sad day for Spurs fans as the Belgian was part of one of the best Spurs teams we have seen in the Premier League. However, there will always be the question of what could have been for Vertonghen and his Tottenham career when it comes to trophies.