Rafael Van der Vaart: 20 questions with the Tottenham and Holland midfielder

Rafael Van der Vaart has been a revelation at Tottenham this season, helping them into the top of the Premier League as well the knockout stages of the Champions League.

He took time out from his hectic schedule to launch Nike's new CTR 360 boot - and answer 20 questions for Sportsmail.

Techno music buff: But Rafael Van der Vaart prefers listening to it rather than singing it

Techno music buff: But Rafael Van der Vaart prefers listening to it rather than singing it

How do you avoid being mobbed in the streets by Spurs fans?

I don’t. I love London – it is a fantastic city – and I want to go out shopping with my family and eat out so I’m not going to hide. I am a normal guy and need to get out.

What difference has David Beckham made at Tottenham?

I’ve only trained with him once so I can’t really say. He’s a great player and I look forward to watching him practice free-kicks.

Why have Spurs been so good away from home this season?

We have been fantastic at home this season and teams are scared to come to White Hart Lane. Away from home though we are getting more space to play in and this allows us time to set up counter attacks and nick goals.

Who do you prefer playing up front with at Tottenham?

I have never played with anyone like Peter Crouch. He is great and so skilful and wins so much in the air for me. I make sure I am always around him when he is near the ball. But Jermain Defoe is one of the best strikers in England and he’s great to play alongside.

Did you know much about Spurs before you joined them?

Obviously I knew about the manager and the players but did not really know about their style of play. Now I’m here, I know the fans are happy with me and they have been superb. I also get on very well with the players.

How are Tottenham going about building a winning mentality?

A great manager and great training. You also have to believe in yourself because belief is the biggest thing for any sportsman. We have the squad, the manager and the belief at Tottenham. 

What do you think of Lionel Messi being voted World Player of the Year?

I was shocked that Wesley Sneijder  - my Holland team-mate – wasn’t even in the top three. However, Lionel Messi is the best player in the world and is a good choice.

Best in the world: Lionel Messi (C) poses with the Ballon d'Or trophy next to his Barca team-mates Xavi Hernandez (right) and Andres Iniesta

Best in the world: Lionel Messi (C) poses with the Ballon d'Or trophy next to his Barca team-mates Xavi Hernandez (right) and Andres Iniesta

What’s the biggest difference between Spain and England?

The weather – Spain is so much hotter and drier but in England the way of life is fantastic so makes up for the cold. I’m enjoying everything about being in this country. Learning new languages is also tough but I’ve got through in Spain and Germany so will be OK here as well.

What’s the best place you’ve been to in London?

I took my little son and wife to Winter Wonderland and it was amazing.

What’s all this about your shocking taste in techno music?

I am always listening to stuff on my iPod but some of the lads at Tottenham didn’t like the Dutch and Spanish music  I had on it so they threw it away! I am big fan of Dutch music – you would never have heard of any of them though. Jermain Defoe is the main man when it comes to music at Tottenham – he’s like a DJ.

Not wanted: Fish and chips

Not wanted: Fish and chips

Do you like English food?

Not really. And I’ve not had fish and chips either.

What advice would you give youngsters hoping to be like you?

Train every day. This is crucial when you are playing a possession game. It’s all about the first touch. When I was a boy there was a huge wall near my house and I spent hours kicking the ball against it, turning, passing and learning about control.

I would also tell players to get their body position perfect when shooting so they can adjust for high and low shots – that can only be done through training.

How does England rate as a place to play?

Holland is a great place to learn how to play football. It’s the best school because it’s not the strongest league but full of very good technical players. Germany has a very physical league while Spain allows you to play good football.

But England shocked me because of the speed of the game. It was something I was not used to but now I am settled, I can say the league is stronger here. In Spain it’s just Real v Barca but in the Premier League you have to battle for every point.

Best ever: Wesley Sneijder

Best ever: Wesley Sneijder

Who is the best player you’ve played alongside?

Wesley Sneijder. We came up together through the Ajax academy together and play in the Holland side – we know each other’s game so well it’s almost telepathic.

Are you as obsessed by match stats as the media is?

Not at all. I’m not bothered by facts and figures and just want to go out and play the game and enjoy it. As a playmaker I get through a lot of work anyway so stats are less important.

Who was your idol when you were young?

That’s easy. Romario was my hero. When he played in Holland I used to watch him all the time. He had real style and I loved everything about the way he played the game. He had a big effect on the way I played.

When  you are not playing football how do you relax?

I watch TV,play with my son and teach him football. I also really like tennis and table tennis.

Can Tottenham win the Premier League title?

We have the squad to do so but have to start winning the so-called ‘little games’ with respect to those teams. At Spurs we all believe we can win the title and will do all we can to do so.

What about the Champions League?

We have already beaten the holders Inter so know we can do the same against Milan in the next round. It’s great for us that the first match against them is away from home. The Lane will be packed for the second leg and we know we can go all the way and win this.

But surely Spurs need to spend big in the transfer window to start winning things?

We don’t need any new players at Tottenham. We are very happy with this team and if can stay together for a few more years, we will win things for sure.

TAKE CONTROL: Rafael van der Vaart wears the new CTR 360 Maestri II, a boot that helps the playmaker to receive, control and distribute the ball to Take Control of the game.  On-sale now.  Visit www.nikefootball.com

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now