A wily old campaigner, his signing from Deportivo La Coruna was a masterstroke in adding immense experience to a very young and developing side. Noureddine Naybet was a model professional, who added a lot to a Tottenham team that was finding it's way under Jacques Santini and then Martin Jol.
Leaving Sporting Lisbon, for the bargain price of £1,200,000 to become a major figure in the history of the Northern Spanish club. Signed by John Toshack, who was boss of La Coruna at the time, he had already played in three different countries by the time he arrived in Spain and also had a lot of international caps under his belt. He had already represented his country in the 1994 World Cup finals and would do so again four years later. His presence in the Morocco team was equally as important to then as it was to Deportivo and he went on to become the record holder for the number of international caps for his country.
While at Deportivo, Naybet became the pillar of their defence and attracted an offer of nearly £9,500,000 to join Real Madrid, but the club would not let him go, such was his importance to the rise of the team. And Manchester United failed to go through with a move for the Moroccan because of a history of knee problems.
A natural leader, Noureddine read the game well and was a constant in the defence, while his partners came and went. His fierce determination sometimes spilled over into bad temper, with his time at Depor being notable for a number of red cards he picked up. But his willingness to join up with the attacking play was just as important and he scored a winner against Manchester United in the 2001 Champions League match between the two sides, which was just one of many goals he picked up for Deportivo.
In 2004, it was Noureddine's wish to stay on at Deportivo La Coruna, but there was a move to freshen up the side with younger players and they looked to cash in on the veteran, who Tottenham snapped up for a reasonable fee, although Spurs wanted him on a free. The idea behind bringing Naybet in was to add some experience to go into the new team new manager Jacques Santini was putting together and his partnership with Ledley King was to bring an old head alongside the club captain in the heart of the defence.
His career at Spurs was never going to be a long one, as he was 34 when he signed and so it proved, with just over a season's appearances from him during 2004-05. When Martin Jol had taken over from Santini in November 2004, he used Naybet alongside King or Michael Dawson, but the following season, the Head Coach went with the two Englishmen and Naybet made jus one appearance at Charlton, with injuries hitting the number of games he could have played.
Naybet was getting to a stage in his career where his reading of the game became even more important, as his pace was going. He put in some very good performances in the first season with Tottenham, intercepting passes, throwing himself in the way of shots and winning the ball in the air. He had the ability to stretch his leg to reach through balls which were going beyond him, as he did not have the legs to run after them. His time at Tottenham was short, but a shrewd piece of business.
On 26th May 2006, Tottenham released Naybet and he effectively retired from playing, but took the position as assistant coach to Henri Michel with the Moroccan national team a year later.