Almost 14 years later, Jermain Defoe has been discussing Tottenham’s infamous lasagne-gate episode against West Ham United on the final day of the 2005-2006 campaign.
Martin Jol’s men arrived at Upton Park one point ahead of rivals Arsenal in the race for the top-four, and only needed to match the Gunners’ result against Wigan to secure Champions League football for the very first time.
However, hours before the game in East London, a number of Tottenham players had reportedly gone down with food poisoning, and the game was in danger of being postponed.
It eventually went ahead, and despite Defoe’s 35th minute equaliser, West Ham ran out 2-1 winners and Spurs finished 5th, having to settle for a place in the UEFA Cup.
Defoe, who was talking about the incident in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports reporter Dharmesh Sheth, wasn’t one of the players that fell ill, but tells the story of exactly what happened.
The former Tottenham striker said: “It was a massive game, to get into the Champions League was massive for the football club and we felt like we deserved it from how we had played all season.
“I remember going into the game, everyone was buzzing as you can imagine. I remember having the evening meal and going to bed.”
Defoe was asked by Sheth whether he had eaten the lasagne. He said: “No! Thank god, I didn’t have it. I remember getting a phone call from the doctor in the morning and him saying ‘are you ok?’ Yes, I am fine, why? A few of the boys are not well, but I thought it was like one or two.
“I remember coming down for the pre-match and a lot of the lads were struggling, and of course we are going to panic – especially Michael Carrick, who was a massive player for us. Unbelievable, great signing. I just thought, we need these players today, because it’s going to be a tough game today against West Ham. So obviously going into the game with that negative, it was tough.
“When you look back now, you don’t want to say it was conspiracy, but it was strange, so many players to get ill the night before a massive game, maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Sheth then asks the former England frontman whether he thinks Spurs would have won the game and played Champions League football if everyone was fit and health. “I think so, yeah,” he admitted.