Brazilian goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes has been speaking to The Offside Rule Exclusives about playing through the pain barrier and where it all went wrong at Tottenham Hotspur, writes Charlotte Duncker.
Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes has revealed he played injured while at Tottenham and had to ask his teammates not to pass back to him.
The Brazilian joined Spurs in 2008 from PSV Eindhoven and struggled to adjust to life in the Premier League.
The 37-year-old has explained how he played injured for 70% of the games in the first six months of his Tottenham career.
Speaking to The Offside Rule Exclusives, he said: “I remember my first six months was very difficult.
“I had a knock on my rib which meant I couldn’t dive to my right in training sessions. I would say I played 70% of games injured, because I wanted to show what I was capable of.”
Gomes was so determined to prove himself he pushed through the pain barrier but had to ask for help from his teammates.
“I remember playing against Manchester City with a groin injury which meant I couldn’t kick the ball,” he recalled.
“I had to tell the defenders to kick the ball forward and not to pass it back to me. If the ball was in my hand I could deal with it but I couldn’t kick it.
“Then Daniel Levy (Spurs chairman) came up to me at the end and said ‘please, we need you to play in the next game.’ So I was there again playing with an injury.”
After three seasons as Spurs’ No 1, the Brazilian found himself pushed down the pecking order as Brad Friedel arrived from Aston Villa forcing him out of the first team.
“It was a very tough time for me,” Gomes explained. “It was the first time that I had ever been in that situation but I can say I learned a lot.
“Luka Modric said to me ‘what are you still doing here? You can’t be here for so long you are a great keeper.’
“But I told him my time will come I don’t have to worry, I just have to work and work more.
“I was trying to ask myself why I wasn’t playing and maybe it’s because I didn’t deliver what they expected. I had a great time at Spurs and great memories but I was very upset at that time.
“I gave away so many opportunities too, I can’t just blame the manager.”
Despite being disappointed with how his career at White Hart Lane panned out, Gomes never gave up on his dream as he was determined to help his family.
“I know that as goalkeepers sometimes we have to put our lives in danger, the risk is minimal but it’s still there.
“Especially these days with football being more powerful and physical you have to be well prepared and know you’re in danger.
“But, I still try to do my best every day for my family.
“I got more than what I wanted I just wanted to give my family in Brazil a little bit of a better life but God gave me more than we deserved and more than I wanted.
“When I go home and see my mum in her house I sometimes think I’m dreaming.”
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Launched in 2017, The Offside Rule Exclusives is our Webby-nominated monthly podcast hosted by Lynsey Hooper, Kait Borsay, and Hayley McQueen. It features in-depth interviews with some of the biggest names in football like Phil Neville, Jermaine Defoe, and Casey Stoney.