|Having been a missing person on the tour
to Mauritius, Fredi Kanoute is now persona non grata, having left for
the fields of Seville. Marco
van Hip takes his won look at the man who split the Spurs fans.
Some of the L words that were used to describe Fredi Kanoute, but
never a legend.
Kanoute came from West Ham with a bit of a reputation there of being
afraid of a battle. According
to the West Ham fans, he not only went missing in the heat of a match,
but often appeared to develop injuries in the lead up to games.
This was despite coming back into their side just before they got
relegated to try and keep them up with his goals. And getting sent off at Leeds did not please the Irons
faithful either ... so Fredi couldnít win.
religion also played a part in how the supporters viewed him.
Being a strict Muslim, he seemed to pick up injuries around
Ramadan, so the story goes, so that he didnít have to play when he was
fasting. Whether that was
the case or not, it suited some to pick on this absence at that time of
year (which is a different tie of year each year).
in the summer of 2003, with Matthew Etherington going the other way as
part of the deal, Kanoute arrived at the club with something to prove.
He had come as a striker who had not kept his previous team in
the Premiership. He started
off with Helder Postiga as his intended partner, but it soon developed
with Robbie Keane up front alongside him, with the new Portuguese
signing relegated to the bench.
disliked the nationality switch that he effected to take him from being
a fringe French player to a regular starter for Mali, with a two-month
gap at the start of the year to go away to play in the African Nations
Cup. That wasnít
Frediís fault, but it hit our goalscoring ability in the early months
of 2004, which is why Tottenham went out and bought Jermain Defoe.
Fredi came back with malaria and had to wait to get back in the
side, but by then we had lost out to Man City in that Cup replay, when
Kanouteís presence might have been useful.
cup-tie later that year also saw Fredi targeted as Tottenham crashed out
to a junior Liverpool side in the Carling Cup.
It was his handball that gave Liverpool a penalty three minutes
from the end of extra time to salvage a draw and then, when it went to
penalties, Kanoute was one of those to miss.
sat with Lee Dumont at Spurs Lodge, waiting to interview Paul Robinson,
while a tabloid journalist was asking Fredi some questions. He asked about he Liverpool game (some three months earlier)
and why Fredi had handled the ball.
Kanoute, talking in a quiet low voice, said he did not know, it
was just a reaction. The
hack went on to ask whether he thought Spurs would have won without the
penalty Liverpool scored to equalise.
Fredi said he could not say.
Then moving onto the penalty shoot-out, he was asked if the
handball was playing on his mind when he came to his turn.
Fredi intimated that it was not in the forefront of his mind when
he struck the shot that was saved.
Not content, the journalist asked how his team-mates reacted when
they got back into the dressing room and what Fredi had said to them.
The striker explained, with great patience, that they understood
he had not meant it and that he felt bad that Tottenham had lost the
match. Continuing his
theme, the pressman said that the fans would not have forgotten the
handball and they felt bad about it. Well, being a fan and hearing this I felt sorry for Kanoute
that he had to go through such an ordeal.
As a fan, I did not hold it against him three months down the
line. These things happen
having fully interrogated Fredi on that, he asked ďYou are a strong
Muslim. Do you use your
belief to help other Muslims in the community ?Ē
At which point, Fredi got up, politely made his excuses and left
to have his lunch.
is perhaps the side of football that is not seen too often.
Kanoute had answered the persistent line of questioning (more
like a police interview than a press one), but had to conduct himself
with dignity and restraint.
may have reflected the way some people saw him on the pitch.
Laid back and not hurrying anywhere, but his style was more than
that. His ability to
control the ball is second to none.
Although it didnít always work, he tried tricks to get around
defenders and brought other players into the game.
Fredi could score goals of great quality, so perhaps the ones he
didnít get were the ugly ones. Fredi
struck some cracking goals Ö Everton home 03, Man. City away 04, Aston
Villa home 05. But there
never seemed to be enough of them.
Thatís why some fans turned against him, because he wasnít
sold him, it seemed a bit remiss not to have someone guaranteed to take
his place. His height
should have won more headers, but he would rather take the ball on his
chest ... even if he had to
jump for it. We have now
gone for a different type of forward in Rasiak.
Whether he will remain in our minds as long as Kanoute, we will
have to see. But Fredi
brought out the best and worst of Spurs fans in equal doses.
Some reading this will wonder if this was the same player they
saw strolling around the pitch when Spurs played.
But you could say the same about many players.
And it is not only what players do on the ball that matters. Sometimes, their work off the ball is just as important.
Fredi, a move to the sunnier climes of Sevilla is one he obviously
wanted, once the club were willing to sell him.
It was good money for him after only two years here and we made a
profit on the £3.5 million we signed him for.
hope he has a good career at Sevilla and for him, the future could well
be orange !!