Saturday, August 29, 2009

Wilson Palacios: The Kind of Player Spurs Haven't Had in 30 Years

Jermain Defoe, Luka Modric, and Aaron Lennon have claimed all the plaudits as Spurs soar towards the summit of the EPL, but the real hero at White Hart Lane has been Wilson Palacios.
With four wins out of four, Spurs have gotten off to their best start to a league campaign in 49 years. The last time they achieved that feat, they went on to win the league...

Much has been made of the prowess of Tottenham's forward line. No team in the English Premier League has four strikers of undoubted class, not even heavyweights like Chelsea and Manchester United.
And while the free-flowing, easy-scoring strikers have powered Spurs to the top of the league, it is the midfield powerhouse of Wilson Palacios that has provided the foundation for all that is good at White Hart Lane at the moment.
Spurs signed Palacios from Wigan in January for £12m, and with the all-action midfielder in the engine room, Spurs went from the bottom of the table and certain relegation to European contenders as they eventually finished 8th.
Palacios began his footballing career with Olimpia in Honduras in 2002. Over his six years with the club, he made 102 appearances and went on to score 32 goals from the right side of midfield.
He was brought into the international team in 2003 after a series of eye-catching performances and it was here that he began to catch the eye of scouts from Europe.
Arsenal's scouts watched Palacios over a run of games in late 2006, but Monaco and Red Star Belgrade moved quicker than the Gunners and offered him trials at each club.
Monaco were suitably impressed but refused to meet Olimpia's estimation of the player and the deal fell through, and Wenger moved in to offer a trial at the Premiership club.
In the end, Wenger opted against signing the right-sided midfielder as he already had a multitude of options at the club, but the Frenchman's word carries a lot of weight.
And after a casual conversation between Wenger and Bruce, the ex-United player decided to see the Honduran for himself.
Steve Bruce plucked the midfielder from the footballing wilderness in Honduras after the recommendation of Wenger, and Palacios joined Birmingham on loan.
However, fate was to have a cruel twist as Palacios' younger brother Edwin was kidnapped by a local gang.
He went home to Honduras to be with his family during this difficult period. During this time, Steve Bruce resigned from Birmingham and took over at Wigan Athletic, and immediately went back in for Palacios.
Having never seen him play due to his time in Honduras, Alex McLeish allowed Palacios to move to the JJB Stadium and Wigan.
The midfielder immediately began to catch the eye of the bigger teams in the EPL, and after 37 games for the Latics, Harry Redknapp came in with a bid for his services.
Over his 50-odd games in the Premiership between Spurs and Wigan, Palacios has forged a massive reputation for himself, and is now regarded as one of the best central midfielders in the league.
Upon taking over from Juande Ramos as manager, Redknapp immediately signaled to chairman Daniel Levy that he needed an enforcer in the middle of the park, he rightly pointed out that Spurs had a soft centre that needed fixing if the club were to stay in the league after their worst start to a campaign since 1912.
Roll on 12 months and Spurs sit on top of the league after their best start since 1960. The difference? Wilson Palacios.
Harry Redknapp spoke recently about the Honduran powerhouse.
“Palacios has made a massive difference to this club,” the Tottenham manager said. “He gets on with it, he’s strong, he’s aggressive—he’s what Tottenham haven’t had.
“I always felt you could bash Tottenham up when they used to come to Portsmouth. We always felt you could get after them and beat them.
“I don’t feel that now. He has been a major part in changing that because he closes down and is strong. That has rubbed off on other people.
You need people like him if you are going to be successful. He walks round like he is pleased to be here and appreciates everything."
While Palacios' signing has gone very well for both player and club alike, tragedy struck in the summer after the dead body of his brother was found after kidnappers from the *** gang murdered him.
Spurs gave Palacios unlimited time to go back home to be with his family and he returned some weeks later.
Last weekend he scored his first ever goal in English football, and as he ran away to celebrate he looked to the heavens with tears in his eyes calling for his fallen brother.
Palacios provides the grit, determination, and steel that is needed to progress to the highest level in the EPL, and is the first Spurs player since Graham Roberts in the early 80's to show the same levels needed for England's top league.
Redknapp has signed a star, and if he keeps producing the same kind of displays that he has in his 15 games for Spurs, they will definitely challenge the European positions if not the Champions League places.

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