Anderton: Christmas is the worst time of year for professional players

FORMER Spurs midfielder Darren Anderton admits that Christmas is the worst time of the year for a professional footballer.

Tottenham travel to Aston Villa on Boxing Day before hosting Newcastle on December 28, leaving precious little time for family festivities.

“It’s awful playing football over Christmas, the worst part of being a professional for sure,” says Anderton with a wry smile. “Christmas is a time of year for family but you’ve got to train and then play matches.

“The games aren’t the problem, it’s the training that’s really difficult. Often you train on Christmas Day and that’s horrible.

“Of course, as a well- paid professional, you can’t moan but it’s certainly the stage of the season you least look forward to. Typically on Christmas Day you train in the afternoon and then go off to a hotel prior to the game on Boxing Day.

“I also remember one year, in 1994, where we played at Norwich on Boxing Day and then Crystal Palace the day after. That was bizarre.”This year, Harry Redknapp’s side face Villa and Newcastle, before hosting Fulham on New Year’s Day.

“ It’s a good time for Tottenham to be able to focus on their form in the Premier League, with the distraction of the Champions League out of the way until mid-February,” says Anderton.

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“It’s very important for the club that they can look to build on the success of last season and they would want to finish in the top four. With three games in short succession coming up, this could be a very important spell in the season.

“When you look at Aston Villa away and Newcastle and Fulham at home, you’d really be looking to get as close to nine points as possible out of those games. Winning those three would really set them up to go into the New Year full of optimism.”

During his 12 years at White Hart Lane, Anderton established himself as an important and popular member of Tottenham’s midfield – and he is a big fan of Redknapp’s middle men.

“Spurs have become one of the most watchable teams in the Premier League and I’m a particular admirer of the midfield talent,” he says.

“Gareth Bale has obviously had a phenomenal season and established himself as one of the best players in that position in the world.

“Luka Modric is another player who I’m a really big fan of. In a way, he’s benefiting this season from being slightly less in the spotlight. People instantly talk about Bale and Rafael Van der Vaart when talking about Tottenham’s main threat, but he’s as good as any.”