Rafael van der Vaart got the UEFA Champions League quarter-final draw he wanted when Tottenham Hotspur FC were matched with his former club Real Madrid CF.
Van der Vaart and Tottenham will travel to Santiago Bernabéu on Tuesday 5 April before the White Hart Lane return eight days later. The 28-year-old Dutch international left Madrid for Spurs in the summer – and cannot wait to return.
"I was happy when the draw was made," Van der Vaart. "
I had hoped this would happen because it will be fantastic to go back to Madrid. I have a lot of friends there and it will be great to see them all. It's a big game and the first leg is away which is good for us, so I'm happy.
"The Bernabéu is fantastic. It's a great pitch, the stadium holds 90,000 and it's a fantastic feeling to play there. I played there for two years and had a great time, so it's a dream to be going back. We don't have pressure, we can play our game and we have a chance I'm sure."
"It'll be a big game and we're looking forward to it," added Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp. "I like [José Mourinho] very much, he was great character when he was over here. He's an amazing manager, he's won the Champions League with Porto and Inter and he was top class at Chelsea. The favourites are the two Spanish teams. We've certainly drawn a tough game but these are the ones you've got to look forward to. It's dream tie for the players, me and the club."
Tottenham will hope to reverse their fate in the 1984/85 UEFA Cup quarter-finals, when they lost 1-0 at home and drew 0-0 in the Spanish capital against a Madrid side that went on to lift the trophy. Emilio Butragueño played in both legs for Madrid and, now the club's drector of institutional relations, he is hoping they can go on from ending their seven-year wait for a quarter-final to earn a last-four tie with FC Barcelona or FC Shakhtar Donetsk.
"We're very happy because for the last few seasons we've been unable to reach the quarter-finals," Butragueño said. "Now we are here we will do our best to get through to the semi-finals because this is the most prestigious competition in Europe and one of our main goals.
"It's going to be a fantastic tie because Tottenham have great attacking players and they know how to compete as well.
I'm sure it's going to be difficult for us but I hope the team can rise to the occasion and get through."
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