Gomes repays his final debt to Tottenham
HEURELHO Gomes says he is paying Tottenham back for their faith in him, and Saturday's penalty save may just be the moment when the big Brazilian can finally call it quits. It was in this very week last year, Saturday November 15...
By Ben Pearce
HEURELHO Gomes says he is paying Tottenham back for their faith in him, and Saturday's penalty save may just be the moment when the big Brazilian can finally call it quits.
It was in this very week last year, Saturday November 15, that Gomes hit his lowest point at Spurs, dropping the ball into his own net to gift Fulham the opening goal, and ultimately a 2-1 victory, at Craven Cottage.
But 12 months on the 6ft 3ins keeper is repeatedly securing victories for the Lilywhites, almost single-handedly in some cases - the wins over Portsmouth and Sunderland in particular had precious little to do with the defence.
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And yet, as Darren Bent stepped up to the penalty spot, Spurs fans may have suffered bitter flashbacks to the last time these two men eyed each other from 12 yards - the Uefa Cup last-16 penalty shootout in March 2008, when Gomes was on the other side.
On that occasion Bent scored, firing into the bottom left corner to give Tottenham a 4-3 lead in the spot-kick contest.
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Moments later Jermaine Jenas curled his effort towards the top right corner to win the tie, only to see Gomes claw the ball away at full stretch.
Spurs fans buried their heads in their hands as Gomes raised his arms to the heavens. PSV triumphed 6-5, and Spurs were out.
Until Saturday, the keeper had never repeated that feat for his new club - he had been beaten from the spot on every occasion, including all three of Man United's efforts in last season's Carling Cup final.
Now, however, Spurs' superhuman Hero-elho has hit his top level, and at the weekend Tottenham fans were able to cheer the 28-year-old keeper's iconic celebration as he again held his hands to the sky.
Gomes is not surprised at his personal transformation, maintaining that injuries last season never allowed him to perform at his best.
Indeed, the only thing that surprised him at the weekend was that Bent shot to the right (not that it mattered).
"I've known him for a long time, and he scored against me when I was at PSV Eindhoven," said Gomes. "I was shown his last 10 penalties and normally he goes to my right side, his left.
"I just waited for him, for his decision. When he got to the ball I thought 'he's going to the other side'. In that time you have to be calm and wait for the decision of the striker.
"I think I am in my best form now. When I came here it was difficult, I was injured for a long time. But I kept going, kept playing all the games, I tried to help everyone. But now I'm okay, I'm fit and I think this is one of my best moments here.
"Harry told me after Portsmouth 'you are in great form and you have to keep going'."
Gomes admits he was well aware of his critics last year, but he insists that he is only concerned about the opinion of his own club and its fans.
"I just have to show my quality to the supporters and the club, I don't have to show any more people," he said.
"It was a difficult situation for me, but I tried to not to worry about this. I try to put my best on the pitch at all times. Sometimes you can't, but I'm in better form now."
Gomes has revealed that his Catholic faith has been a huge source of comfort and inspiration to him, but he insists he doesn't get an unfair advantage from the powers that be.
"My religion helps me with my football, I think you have to believe in something important. It's helped me so much," he said.
"I keep my family and my God in my heart all the time, because I know my quality, this is why I'm here. "They didn't come to me to sign a bad goalkeeper, they know I am a good goalkeeper, and now I'm paying that confidence back.
"I enjoy playing for Tottenham, I enjoy playing in England, which I think is the best competition in the world, and I'm happy to be here.
"Did God tell me which way to dive for the penalty? No, I think he helps by giving me confidence and that sort of thing. He doesn't help me in that way on the pitch, because I think he is protecting everyone on the pitch.