The “crazy” former Tottenham star repeatedly punched Van der Vaart and threatened to kill him for taking a free kick
Tottenham legend midfielder Sandro has claimed that former left-back and fellow legend Benoit Assou-Ekotto threatened to “kill” Rafael van der Vaart after he did not allow him to take a free-kick.
Sandro was part of Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham side that reached the Champions League quarter-finals in 2011 and is remembered fondly by fans for his powerful tackles and antics.
In an exclusive interview with Ladbrokes Fanzone, Sandro lifted the lid on this team, which was short of a handful of characters.
The midfielder looked back with particular fondness on playing with left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who claims he does not like football.
“Benoit (Aso-Ekotto) is a crazy guy, he really is. We liked him a lot. We knew he was a special kind of guy, but we liked him because of that. He would never know it,” the Brazilian midfielder said. The one we played at the weekend… He just didn’t like football.
“There’s a really funny moment that comes to my mind when I think of Aso-Ekotto. He loved to give us free kicks. But one time we were playing in a game, we got a free kick in a good area. The situation and Rafael van der Vaart picked up the ball and decided Shooting.
“Aso took it very personally; he was very upset because, for him, this was his ball; he was going to hit the ball. As a group of players playing with him, generally whenever Aso wanted to do something, we would let him do it.” …Let him do it, you know?
“At the moment, he was angry. At the end of the first half, we went into the dressing room and he was punching Rafael! I tried to catch him, he was very strong too, so I grabbed him and pulled him.” Bring him back because he is trying to attack Rafa.
“Why did you shoot? why did you do that? It’s my ball, my friend… Don’t shoot it! Next time, I’ll kill you!”
“He was very angry. The next day, we went to training and Van der Vaart came up to me and said, ‘Sandro, you saved my life… Thank you very much!’
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This is not the first time Assou-Ekotto’s strange ways have made headlines.
Peter Crouch also looked back fondly on his time with Aso-Ekotto during an interview with The Mail, saying: “He (Aso-Ekotto) will tell us frankly that he wasn’t interested in football at all. He didn’t really like it.”
“At 1.30pm on a Saturday, he’ll have no idea which team you’ll be playing with. ‘But Benoit, we’ve been talking about them in training all week.’
Crouch also recounted how Aso-Ekotto would eat the same bizarre lunch every match day, saying: “Benoit would come in with a Tesco bag which contained the same four items every time: a croissant, a hot chocolate, a full-fat Coca-Cola and a packet of potato chips.
“I got the croissant. It’s French-Cameroonian. The hot chocolate: same cultural background. He’d dip the first one into the second one.”
“But the chips and a coke – they were two separate lunches, one belonging to a middle-aged Parisian and the other to a 12-year-old on Seven Sisters Road. And it worked. He was always in good shape and rarely injured.”
“We accepted that, along with all the other weird things: the random cars he’d show up for training in, sometimes a Smart car, then a Lamborghini; and the way he refused to take ice baths to recover, on the fairly basic premise: they were ‘cold.’ very”.
“Benoit was a really strange guy but we liked him very much.”
For his part, Assou-Ekotto claimed that he does not like football, but was honest about his intentions to see it as just a job.
“Everyone, everyone, when they go to a job, it’s for the money. So I don’t understand why, when I said I play for the money, people were shocked,” he said in an interview with The Athletic last year. (Saying) Oh, he’s a mercenary, every player is like that, it’s a good job, and I’m not saying I hate football but it’s not my passion.
“Did the other players agree with me? I’m sure, I’m 200 percent sure.”
He went on to say that he is now enjoying football again, playing for local amateur club SC Saint-Nicolas-lez-Arras in northern France for free.