I don't need to tell any of you that Rafael van der Vaart is a former Real Madrid player. This summer, as Mesut Özil was brought into the club, Rafa was deemed surplus to requirements and offloaded to Tottenham Hotspur on the final day of the transfer window, and for 50 cents on the dollar, no less. Now, he makes his return to the Santiago Bernabeu to face his former club in the UEFA Champions League. Amazingly, this is a club that he loved and whose fans still love him, despite the circumstances of his departure.
Ian Chadband of the Telegraph wrote this fantastic piece on van der Vaart last night, and it shed some light on just how bizarre the situation was. It's hard to begrudge a club for wanting to sell van der Vaart when they have Özil and Kaka on their books, but the way they mistreated him was shameful. Still, despite the fact that he was frozen out and not even allowed to train with his teammates, by all accounts, Rafa kept a positive attitude and kept trying to win his place back in the team.
You could make a dream team with the players Madrid have frozen out over the years, and Rafa is among those ranks. Without him, we likely wouldn't have advanced this far in Champions League, which means he's already paid back his transfer fee with the increased television revenue share we'll receive. So thanks, Mr. Perez. Even if we lose on Tuesday, we've already won.