Jan Vertonghen F.S.C.
As fellow cricket followers may know, on joining the staff of Lancashire Cricket Club in 1987, the former England cricket captain Mike Atherton had the initial F.E.C. daubed on his locker.
For a long time this was assumed by many to be a recognition of his talent and statues as a Future England Captain. However, in his autobiography Atherton claimed that the truth was somewhat less prescient or flattering. Apparently unimpressed by Oxbridge graduates, his team mates had nicknamed him F***ing Educated C***. Personally, I liked the idea that a man could possess such talent and character that upon signing his first professional contract those around him would have foreseen it as inevitable that he would one day become captain of England. Which, in a round about way, brings me to Jan Vertonghen and the purpose of writing this article.
Since Ledley finally hung up his boots, the question of who will become the new long term Spurs captain has remained unresolved. Michael Dawson was made club captain shortly before turning down the chance to join QPR and has subsequently struggled to make the starting XI. Although William Gallas has been handed the captain's armband when playing this season, his performance in defence have been far from convincing and anyway, given his age, he was never going to be anything more a stop gap. While the captaincy has been passed around to various others players for different games, none have stood out as the obvious long term successor to Ledley King. Step forward Jan Vertonghen.
I can't think of another signing who has made a better instant impression than the Belgium centre half/emergency left-back since Jurgen Klinsmann scored on his debut in a 4-3 win Sheffield Wednesday and celebrated his goal with a knowing dive. But whereas the former German striker was nearing the end of an illustrious career, Vertonghen is only just beginning. Educated at Ajax's cultured youth academy, composed in possession and defence, with a technique and eye for goal that many forwards would envy, if ever a player possessed the qualities to captain a club of Spurs' great traditions it is the former captain of Ajax and Dutch Footballer of the year.
Not only that but he is also articulate and engaging when interviewed - even displaying occasional wit, such as when he remarked with a wry smile that he hadn't joined Arsenal because they had wanted to play him in midfield, whereas Tottenham has assured him that he would be playing at centre-half. Yes, for me, from the moment he stepped foot on the turf at White Hart Lane it was clear that Jan Vertonghen was a Future Spurs Captain. He seems to have it all and at the tender age of 25 will only get better.
I would love to see him at the heart of our defence with the armband on his sleeve for the next ten years. As for Atherton, my guess is that F.E.C. might well have stood for Future England Captain, but his modesty and humility - the very qualities which along with his talent made him so suitable for the England captaincy - would not allow him admit it. Of such stuff are great captains made, and from what I have seen to date, Jan Vertonghen has all those qualities and more.
Written by OneCentRob