Former Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes is finally back to doing what he loves. Actually playing soccer. For years he was relegated to the bench and sometimes even the reserves with Spurs, but now he's Watford's first-choice goalkeeper and he's thrilled about it.
The Hornets are currently a respectable 13th in the Premier League table. The 34-year-old has started all 10 of their matches this season and credits the club's manager, Quique Sanchez Flores, with their success.
"He is not the Special One but he is different. We have a game plan for West Ham as we have every single game. It is specific. It is not ‘oh, they play like this, long ball'. The week before we play a team, we train according to how the opposition will play. He is able to show us what we must do."
-Heurelho Gomes; Source: Evening Standard
The Brazilian is loving life at his current club, a vast contrast from how he felt in the latter stages of his Spurs career. Gomes says he feels welcomed at Watford more than he ever did at Tottenham.
"I am feeling more settled because the club welcome me, more than Tottenham. I am feeling better than my time at Tottenham, physically, mentally, everything."
Under Harry Redknapp, he was the first-choice goalkeeper for the club and even manned the position during their amazing run to the Champions League quarterfinals in 2010/11. After a string of blunders in big matches, Gomes lost the confidence of his manager and was dropped.
The club signed Brad Friedel in 2011 and Gomes was bumped down the depth chart decreasing his minutes. Once Andres Villas-Boas and Hugo Lloris arrived a year later he fell even further and was regularly third-choice.
After seven years in North London and 97 appearances, Gomes left for Watford in 2014. Despite initial reports that the goalkeeper was released, he is adamant that it was he who turned down Spurs' contract offer in order to leave.
"Tottenham did not release me" he insists. "They offered me a two-year contract. I have never before said they offered me a contract. You can go and speak to Franco Baldini [then director of football]. He said, ‘please don't go. I need you around here'. They were going to release Brad Friedel. I said, ‘no I prefer to play in the first team.' I was always second to Hugo Lloris. Maybe I upset them because I said no. So, of course, they put it about that they were going to release me."
Gomes had some great moments with Spurs and was a fantastic goalkeeper on his good days. Unfortunately, his bad days were too glaring to ignore and it cost him his job as Spurs tried to improve their squad. No matter how his departure from the club was portrayed, it appears that his move to Watford has been beneficial to both the club and the player.