Taking a touch to tee himself up, Spurs midfielder David Bentley unleashes a shot from 40 yards out that loops over Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia’s head and into the net. Cue stunned silence and scenes of delirium as Bentley celebrates. Then, on 29th October 2008, his move to Spurs from Blackburn had already blossomed. Now, aged 29, the seven capped England winger has retired from professional football.
Why? Because, according to Bentley, the game has become ‘robotic and boring’. His love for the game, much like his career, has evaporated, now condemned to the history books. Once hailed as the next David Beckham, albeit by Steve McClaren, Bentley departs having never fulfilled his potential.
But what about that potential? Was the sky the limit for Bentley or was he simply a victim of his own hype? A talented footballer he was but, ultimately, the latter is more likely.
A £15m move to Spurs was a failure. Loan spells to Birmingham, West Ham, FC Rostov and Blackburn followed but he was released in 2013. Without a club for a year, Bentley has called time on a career where his only similarities to David Beckham were his gelled hair and lack of pace.
Bentley can blame Spurs, Harry Redknapp or whoever else he wants but the buck stops with him. Despite his protests, there’s no stigma attached to his name. His attitude stank. Dumping a bucket of water over his then manager was childish. Dancing in front of the Sky cameras immediately after Spurs had qualified for the Champions League was downright stupid. Wilson Palacios and Jermaine Jenas had the right idea. Watch the video and you’ll see them scarper back into the dressing room. Bentley believed his hype.
That goal against Arsenal was sublime. Looking back though, Bentley was more one hit wonder than anything else.