Written by: Seb Stafford-Bloor, writer for Four-Four-Two, uMAXit and BetBright. Click here to see more of Seb's content
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Sometimes a player's timing is perfect. Sometimes his arrival at a club endears him to set of fans in a way in which his pure ability would never have been able to.
Wilson Palacios was that player to Tottenham.
Palacios was honesty. He was diesel fuel for a Spurs midfield which had been running on empty and moral fibre for a team which had drifted from its equilibrium. He arrived at White Hart Lane in January of 2009 and, while he wasn't a pre-eminent hero of the club's ascent to the Champions League eighteen months later, the ruggedness he initially bought to the club changed Tottenham's fabric.
Palacios revelled in the physical elements of the game. Though more technically blessed than assumed, he was a throwback destroyer who existed to retrieve the ball and who pulsed with muscularity. An oddly-shaped athlete with disproportionately long legs, he could look like a clumsy video game construction. But, really, he was perfectly built to do the things he did; there wasn't a hint of finesse to Palacios' defensive work. He would crouch and prowl as a player entered his sphere, poised like a cage-fighter awaiting the bell. He was a picture of focused concentration, waiting for the first heavy touch and his chance to pounce. Then, like a woodsman taking an axe to an oak, one of those legs would jut out and take...something: the player would collapse into a pile and, from underneath it, Palacios would emerge with the ball.
He looked awkward and strange and, when he had possession, he never looked entirely in control, but his imperfections endeared him to those supporters and the commitment he embodied provided a welcome contrast to the flimsy days of Juande Ramos.
The love for him was cultish, but very real. He may have been imperfect and occasionally prone to recklessness, but the abilities that he brought felt like a direct response to the jibes which had preceded his arrival. Tottenham were weak, Tottenham were soft and Tottenham could have been blown over by the wind. Palacios, though, was forged from Honduran iron, a snarling attack dog who never lost the scent of the ball and who would run forever to get it.
He was without the measured poise of Michael Carrick or the controlling passing range of Tom Huddlestone, and he didn't have the multi-dimensions found in many of the contemporary holding-midfielders, but he was the right-shaped piece in the right hole. He offered protection for a defence which needed to heal and security behind an attacking unit which was still learning to play together.
Give me the heart of Wilson Palacios and I'll make you a team.
A little background information from me, the creator of Look What it Means to Him...
Say want you like about their short to mid-range ballistic missiles; North Korea knows how to make a good poster. Bold, vibrant and entirely at odds with the washed-out photos we see of the country itself, North Korean propaganda is dominated by images of soldiers crushing the West or ecstatic farmers bear-hugging wheat (see examples below).
Keen to emulate this unique style, Tottenham's famous cockerel provided me with a link between Spurs and North Korea's agricultural themes. The good people at https://www.reddit.com/r/translation/ provided a translation of the phrase 'His Work Brings Victory!' and the text across the top is hopefully reads 'Wilson Palacios', however, there's also a chance I've unwittingly endorsed the wholesale destruction of all democratic nations.
In a nod to the plentiful harvests that appear throughout North Korean propaganda, Palacios is pictured standing in front of a stockpile of footballs; his yield obtained from the fields behind him