Costing only £1.5 million, Poyet was a steal. Although he was 33, he proved at Chelsea that he was an outstanding midfielder, who could perform to a high level on a consistent basis.
He moved from Uruguay at the age of 23 to play in Europe. Working his way through Spain, alongside our old midfielder Nayim he won the European Cup Winners Cup against Arsenal with Real Zaragoza in 1995. He was at the club for seven years before Chelsea snapped him up on a free transfer and he illuminated their midfield. A prolific scorer (especially against us) of spectacular goals, he is a dynamic player who loves to get forward, as demonstrated by his four goals in his first nine games for the Blues. However, in October of 1997, he suffered a serious knee injury that kept him out for six months. In 1998, he suffered cruciate ligament damage and recovered to play in Chelsea's European Cup Winners Cup final win and in 2000 he scored in the FA Cup Final win for the Pensioners.
His strength was not just in attack though. He could get back to snuff out opponents in midfield, but after two knee operations he looked to younger legs to help out in tracking back. He had fantastic vision and like Martin Peters, could make blind side runs to get on the end of moves and finish expertly.
Finding himself edged out of the first team picture since the arrival of Italian coach Claudio Ranieri, he asked for a move and when he was available, Glenn Hoddle was keen to bring him to White Hart Lane. His worth to the side was not only in experience, but also as a source of goals from the middle of the park.
Marked his first game for Tottenham with a hat-trick against Stevenage Borough and showed in the other pre-season games leading up to the 2001-02 season that he has aggression, leadership and bundles of skill.
His goals certainly helped the side in 2001-02 and although he faded alter in the season like many of the older generation at WHL, he showed enough skill and determination to do well for a season more at least.
However, injured in a pre-season game at Gillingham, he needed minor surgery on a knee meniscus problem and was ruled out for two months at the start of the 2002-03 campaign. He did come back, but never looked at ease throughout the matches he featured in, leaving Spurs fans to think his legs had finally given out. The pre-season injury curse struck again in August 2003, when he broke his wrist in the closing minutes of a friendly against Sporting Lisbon at the Lane.
However, his return coincided with the dismissal of Glenn Hoddle and the caretaker appointment of David Pleat. In the 4-4-2 set-up, his need to cover as much ground was catered for and he showed what he does best ... getting into the box and making a nuisance of himself in midfield. His glancing header against Everton was typical of the player who ended his career in the summer of 2004, when his Tottenham contract expired.
He returned to Uruguay where he headed up the youth football side of the national FA, then returned to England when he was asked to join Dennis Wise as assistant manager at Swindon Town. After a stunning start to the season, which saw the club at the top of the League 2 table, the pair were head-hunted by Leeds United to rescue them from the bottom of the Championship. They couldn't manage this as the through-put of players on loan short term contracts and small fees left them unable to gain any consistency. With the club going into administration just before they were relegated, they entered League One with a fifteen point deduction as they could not provide a CVA to satisfy the FA. Despite this, they roared to an unbeaten start to the season which would have seen them head the table by eleven points without the deduction.
Poyet still had his problems and was fined £1,500 and warned as to his future behaviour in October 2007 after he had made a post match blast at referee Andy D'Urso following a League Cup defeat against Portsmouth.
Days later, on 29th October, Poyet was back with Tottenham, when a compensation package was agreed with Leeds United to bring him to White Hart Lane as a first team coach under new Head Coach Juande Ramos. It was expected that Poyet's experience in the Premier League and his ability to speak Spanish and English would assist the former Sevilla coach to integrate quickly into the club.
In the summer of 2008, his reputation in the game got him mentioned as a possible replacement as Alex Ferguson's assistant at Manchester United, after Carlos Queiroz's departure to take over as manager of Portugal. However, in October 2008, with Spurs stuck at the bottom of the Premier League table with two points from eight games, the board decided that it was time for Ramos to move aside and Poyet went with him.
Having spent a little time out of the game, taking in the lessons learned, he was appointed as manager at Brighton and Hove Albion, where he appointed former Spurs team-mate Mauricio Taricco as his assistant manager and the Seagulls swept to the top of the table playing some nice football and going on a giant-killing FA Cup run too. A behind the scenes incident lead to the duo being suspended, with Poyet receiving the news that he had been sacked while he was appearing on BBC TV as a pundit. Despite appealing against the decision, he left the Sussex club and was appointed as Sunderland manager when Paolo di Canio left the Black Cats at the bottom of the table in October 2013.
At the Stadium of Light, he did enough to keep the team in the Premier League with some good results against top sides and with a number of signings in the summer of 2014, it looked as though the club might be on the up. However, Poyet made noises about the players not being his choice and before the season was out, he had left as he was sacked on 15th March 2015, after a run of one win in twelve Premier League games and an FA Cup exit at the hands of Bradford City.