"Dangerous at both ends" was how various Tottenham supporters of my
acquaintance mockingly described Ramon Vega, when the news broke that the
celebrated Swiss (yes, Swiss) international defender had finally signed for
Watford. Other, more straightforward Tottenham fans simply stated he was
useless. Yes, they said, he might score once or twice when going forward for
set-pieces, but in defence he'll concede space and possession, give away
needless penalties and free kicks and score own goals. Which is exactly what
In spite of his less than awesome reputation, he was still seen as an
exciting high-profile signing for Watford. However, it was the size of his
three year contract, reputedly worth not far short of a million a year, that
caused most interest and discussion, rather than his playing record.
Vega was of course, a treble winner at Celtic, and had proved himself
against such giants as St Johnstone, Kilmarnock, Motherwell and
Dunfirmline. He had performed superbly in memorable contests against
immortal household names like Wee Willy McHaggis or 'Tosser' McCaber. His
move from Spurs to Celtic had been a gamble, because the quality of the
opposition was far, far higher than anything the Premiership could offer.
However, like fellow genius Chris Sutton, whose talents were simply wasted
at Chelsea, he went to the great Glasgow club and prospered....
His speciality in his early days at Watford was the mistimed tackle, on the edge of the box
or occasionally in it. Later, he added another vital attribute to his game,
that of allowing the man he was marking to get goalside of him time and time
again and to have oceans of space to score at leisure.
In truth, Vega could not be called a truly awful player. He was an average
one. He had the occasional good game, a few nondescript games and some bad
ones. His problem was that we expected more, a heck of a lot more, for our
money than an average First Division player who did okay in Scotland. It's
not his fault that many of us remember Sims, Terry, McClelland and, yes,
Robert Page at his best.
A lingering memory of the 2001-02 season was the
home Cup Tie with Arsenal, with the Gooners singing "We got Campbell, we got
Campbell, we got Campbell, from the Lane" etc, before stumbling across a
variant of their song. "You got Vega, you got Vega, you got Vega, from the
Lane!" How they laughed.
Yes, we laughed along and saw the funny side and for one brief moment I felt
sorry for the humiliated Vega. Then I remembered his bank balance. His own
goal at Wolves lost us one particular match but it was not nearly as
disastrous as the own goal of signing him in the first place.
See also: Gone but not forgotten