| HUNTINGTON BEACH, California
HUNTINGTON BEACH, California, Jan 2 (Reuters) -
Juergen Klinsmann remains an unabashed Tottenham Hotspur fan
more than a decade after leaving the north London club and the
new United States coach even has his cell phone programmed to
sound an alert every time a Spurs result is published.
Klinsmann told Reuters in an interview he is delighted his
former team are challenging near the top of the Premier League
because the right ingredients have come together - a strong
squad, stability, consistency and patience.
"They're a club that really deserves to be in the top four
and this year there might even be a little bit more possible
with a bit of luck," said the ex-Germany striker after Spurs
ended 2011 as London's leading side in third place in the table.
Klinsmann is still revered at White Hart Lane where he spent
the 1994-95 season and the second half of 1997-98.
"I'll always carry that club in my heart because it's a
really special place," he said.
"The squad is now strong enough to compete in the Champions
League. It has been a process. The owners had patience. They
knew it would take time and they gave (manager) Harry Redknapp
the time. They built this and worked on it together."
Klinsmann had an exceptional time at Spurs, scoring 29 goals
in his first spell when they reached the FA Cup semi-finals, and
became the first German to be named England's Footballer of the
Year since Manchester City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann in 1956.
He returned on loan in 1998, helping Tottenham avoid
relegation with another nine goals including four in a memorable
6-2 win at Wimbledon that ensured Spurs' top flight survival.
Turning to the current squad, Klinsmann said Redknapp and
chairman Daniel Levy have done a superb job.
"They've developed a lot of stability and consistency over
the last few years with Harry and now you see that coming
through," he said. "Their squad is very, very good, especially
"Redknapp has a lot of authority and the owners let him do
"From the stability a team has developed that can really
compete. It's fun to watch because they're an entertaining side.
Tottenham is and always was about entertainment. They want to
have a blast, they want to move forward. It's just fun to see."
Klinsmann, who is often on scouting missions in Europe, said
he watched Tottenham's match at Fulham in November with Levy.
"Tottenham is a way of life and I didn't know that until I
got there," Klinsmann said. "I signed my first contract and
thought, 'It's cool to be in London'. And then after two weeks I
said to myself 'Oh my gosh, what is this here?'"
Klinsmann said a pre-season friendly against a lower
division side in Dublin made him realise what he had bought into
when 11,500 Tottenham fans made the journey to watch the match.
"I said, 'Hold on, we just flew to Ireland'. I asked the
other players and they said 'You're at Tottenham'. Tottenham is
just so much more than a club.
"The supporters are very special. They live and breathe for
that club. You go to White Hart Lane and there are 36,000 people
singing. It's not just one section. It's the whole stadium
singing. You go there and think 'Wow'."
Klinsmann keeps closely in touch with developments in the
Premier League with former France striker Thierry Henry about to
follow his example by going back to play for a former club with
a return to Tottenham's local rivals Arsenal.
He said Henry's imminent return on a two-month loan deal
from New York Red Bulls could have a positive impact on and off
"Absolutely he would make a valuable contribution no matter
if he's on the field or not because his experience will help a
lot of players," Klinsmann said, adding that only Henry and
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will know exactly what his role
"It's possible that he might be more viable to him off the
field than on the field," Klinsmann added. "Maybe he doesn't
want to have him as the front man to score the goals.
"Maybe he'll say he wants him to calm down the team, to read
the pace of the game, or maybe educate some of the younger
players off the field. Henry has so much in his portfolio. Maybe
he can make a difference without even being on the field."
Henry, who is now 34, scored a club record 226 goals in his
eight years at Arsenal from 1999 to 2007 winning two Premier
League titles and three FA Cups. He then spent three seasons at
Barcelona before joining the Red Bulls last year.
Klinsmann said he was curious to see how Henry's loan move
would work out adding: "The MLS is completely different from the
Premier League, obviously. It's really down to Arsene Wenger to
say, 'Okay this is what I want from him'.
"Even if, theoretically, he wouldn't play a game, he might
still be the difference behind the scenes to help whatever
striker talent they have or whatever player they have who is
lacking something - he might add that piece to that player and
then he's suddenly kind of chest out and says 'I can do it
because Thierry Henry said I can.'"
(Editing by Mike Collett and Ken Ferris; To
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