In this edition of Last Word on Football’s ‘Returning Players’ series, we look at Teddy Sheringham.
Sheringham played for Tottenham Hotspur between 1992 and 1997 before returning for a second spell between 2001 and 2003.
Returning Players: Teddy Sheringham
First Spell at Tottenham
Sheringham hit the ground running in his first spell at White Hart Lane, finishing the season with 22 goals. The striker became Spurs’ main marksman and his ability to adapt was never more prevalent than at Spurs as his strike partners changed on a relatively regular basis. He played alongside Ronnie Rosenthal, Chris Armstrong, Gordon Durie and forged a superb relationship with German Jurgen Klinsmann.
Klinsmann has always been full of praise for his Spurs teammate, referring to him as being the ‘most intelligent player’ he had ever played with.
“We had a great relationship because we are both open-minded,” he said. “His big quality is his positive attitude, how he convinces his team-mates to bring out their best and how he helps everybody else in the team – running here, running there. He seemed to be everywhere in a game.”
The 1994/95 season was the closest that Sheringham came to any success with Tottenham. He and Klinsmann scored goals in a superb FA Cup quarter-final performance at Anfield that saw Spurs reach the semi-final and face Everton. It turned out to be a bad day for Sheringham and Spurs as they were dumped out after losing 4-1, and went on to finish seventh in the Premier League.
Despite becoming a Tottenham legend during his first spell at Spurs, Sheringham was 31 years of age and without any silverware by his name. By the end of the 1996/97 season, Sheringham decided that he had to leave Spurs and look to find the success that he so desperately craved. In 1997 he would find the move that would bring him more success than he could ever have hoped for.
Teams That Sheringham Played for in Between
Eric Cantona had left Manchester United to retire and focus on his ‘acting’ career and Sheringham was the man chosen to replace the mercurial Frenchman in a deal worth £3.5 million. Ironically, his first game in the Premier League for his new club was at White Hart Lane where he suffered deafening boos.
Considering the performances that he had put in for Tottenham, it was a sad day for the player who deserved nothing less than a standing ovation. Leaving Spurs was not an easy decision for the player but his chances of winning silverware at Spurs were limited.
Sheringham had the last laugh as, even though he missed a penalty, United won the game 2-0.
At United, Sheringham ended up being embroiled in one of football’s strangest strike partnerships with Andrew Cole. The pair fell out during a match against Bolton Wanderers and, to this day, it is believed they have not shared any dialogue since.
The breakdown of that relationship meant that he never really got the game time he desired at United but it did not stop him from being a vital part of one of the greatest seasons in English football history.
With the Premier League title secured, Sheringham scored from the bench to help United claim the domestic double with an FA Cup victory over Newcastle United, but his finest hour was yet to come. The 1999 Champions League final pitted two of footballing’s giants against each other and for much of the game, it looked like this was a match too far for United against Bayern Munich.
With the Res Devils one goal down as the 90-minute mark passed, Sheringham scored in ‘Fergie’ time, to level the tie before flicking on a following corner which was turned into the net by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to give United an incredible victory.
His time at United brought him the success he desired and l, after another League title success in 2001, he left the club and returned for a second spell with Spurs.
Return to Tottenham Hotspur
Ruud van Nistelrooy had arrived at United and Sheringham’s contract was at its end, so it seemed the right time to move on and he was still hungry to be playing at the top level. Glenn Hoddle brought Sheringham back on a free transfer and helped the club to the League Cup final, only to be beaten by Blackburn Rovers.
This period saw Tottenham languishing as a mid-table club with a ninth-placed finish being the best they could muster on Sheringham’s return to the club.
Sheringham may not have hit the heights of his first period at Tottenham but he still managed to score 26 goals and play 80 times in all competitions before leaving for Portsmouth. Despite the jeers in that first return to White Hart Lane with Manchester United, he would never experience that again and was cheered and adored on his subsequent returns with Pompey and West Ham United.
He ended his tenure in north London with 104 goals from 249 Spurs appearances.