Oh how I miss those days. The good old days, the all or nothing days… Unfortunately in the 1997/98, it was nothing, and in fact, Tottenham came very close to losing their Premier League status all together. However, there was one ray of sunshine that season… Portuguese sensation Jose Dominguez.
Jose began his career in his native Lisbon, making his debut for Benfica at the age of 18. However, Dominguez was loaned to a lower league side Fafe, where his performances caught the eye of Barry Fry, the Birmingham City manager. Dominguez joined Barry Fry at the end of the 1993/94 season, and managed to play 5 league games, but couldn’t prevent Birmingham’s relegation to the third tier of English football. Dominguez played in 35 Second Division matches scoring 3 goals, before returning to Sporting Lisbon for £1.6million. During this period, Dominguez received the 2 Portugal caps he earned throughout his career, and played 62 times for Sporting. However, Jose missed England, and in August 1997, Gerry Francis and Tottenham offered the 23 year old a route back into English football.
Dominguez joined Tottenham in August 1997, and on his debut against Derby County, Dominguez came on as a substitute and instantly changed the game in Tottenham’s favour. Dominguez made a series of mazy runs down Derby’s right, and with Derby defenders bamboozled, resorted to hacking the Portuguese down. The resulting Andy Sinton free kick was headed in by Colin Caldrwood. In the same match, another foray down the left saw Dominguez again felled in the penalty area, only for David Howells to blaze over the bar from 12 yards. This however, was pretty much the highlight of Jose’s Tottenham career.
Unfortunately for Dominguez, Francis resigned less than four months after Dominguez joined, and under his two subsequent managers (Christian Gross and the man in the raincoat) Dominguez found first team opportunities limited. He managed just 8 Premier League starts in his first season, and just another 4 throughout the remainder of his time at White Hart Lane. Jose became a regular in the reserves, but Jose seemed content to pick up his wages and remain at the club.
In 2000, Graham finally managed to get Dominguez off the wage bill, and the player left for German club Kaiserslautern for £250,000, where he made 56 appearances and scored 5 goals in 4 years. Dominguez enjoyed a brief spell in Qatar with Al-Ahli (Doha), before moving to Brazil with CR Vasco da Gama in 2005. However, the Portuguese Football Association refused his playing licence, and so in August 2005, aged 31, Dominguez hung up his boots.
Highlights of Dominguez’s Tottenham career are fleeting, matching the number of appearances he made. However, not only was Dominguez a substitute on the bench in the 1999 League Cup final, but Dominguez played in the last Premier League victory over Arsenal on 7th November 1999 with the sight of Jose skinning Martin Keown still a happy memory for many Spurs supporters (Keown was sent off for the challenge).
Jose Dominguez also holds two Premier League records. At 5ft 3in Dominguez is the smallest player ever to grace the Premier League. Further, when Dominguez joined Tottenham in 1997, he was the first Portuguese player to appear in Premier League.
Dominguez probably sums up what has been one of Tottenham’s problems over the years-the love of a flair player. Whilst on occasions players like Ginola and Sheringham have been great to watch, Tottenham have been overloaded with average attackers in the past, looking a little top heavy. However, whilst his appearances were fleeting, the boy definately had some tricks.
So there you have it. Jose Dominguez… Tottenham legend.