A striking physical specimen, Timothee Atouba joined Spurs in the reign of Jacques Santini, but he became a talisman for Martin Jol after he succeeded the Frenchman as Spurs Head Coach.
The Cameroonian midfielder became an immediate crowd favourite at Spurs making a strong tackle to win possession with his first involvement after coming on as a substitute in the first game of the 2004-05 season against Liverpool.
A goal at Newcastle United in his second game, curling the ball around Shay Given, sealed cult status, but unfortunately his stay at the club was not very long and his appearances too few. His insistence on playing “showboat” football, often in the wrong areas of the pitch, perhaps marked him out as a player who might be a liability to the team and his place in the starting line-up became more rare as the nights drew in. When he was called upon, he was stuck in at left back. His willingness to take people on was thrilling for the fans, but the space he left in behind him gave Spurs fans the sort of exciting moments that they could do without.
With only 18 league appearances in that season, Timothee was allowed to leave to join SV Hamburg, where he was followed by Martin Jol. The Cameroon international did not enjoy his time there, contributing to the concession of a few goals with naïve defending and diving into tackles, bringing down abuse from the terraces, which saw him direct a gesture at the fans and on being substituted, he did the same again, attracting a red card from the referee.
His next move saw him re-united with Jol for a third time, moving to Holland and signing for Ajax. Atouba admitted this was a bad move, as he suffered injury soon after joining and was ousted by the emerging talent of Vurnon Anita. This resulted in him being released in the summer of 2011 and despite a trial in Canada at Montreal Impact in 2012, he signed for La Liga side Las Palmas in November for the rest of the season.
All long legs and gangly running style, Atouba had an ability in there to be a very good player, but his temperament was perhaps not suited to settling at a particular club, as his career list shows. An explosion waiting to happen, it wasn't quite the case at Spurs, but after that, he had little luck and seemingly little inclination to apply his talents to his game.
A real shame, as he could have been a hero at the Lane.