His experience has proved invaluable

It was perhaps no surprise there was a mixed response to William Gallas completing a shock move to Tottenham, but as Harry Redknapp's men target a top-four finish for the second season running, there can be few Spurs fans who now doubt the wisdom of that signing. By Andy McDermott.

At the start of the season, it seemed nobody in north London was happy with William Gallas.

His decision to reject a new contract at Arsenal and join their bitter rivals Tottenham meant both sets of supporters had reason to hold a grudge.

Crossing the divide from the Emirates (and previously Highbury) to White Hart Lane is something that few players before him had done, and the abuse that Sol Campbell received for moving in the opposite direction had highlighted the possible pitfalls.

Anyone who crosses that divide is inevitably branded a villain, and Gallas arrived at Tottenham already possessing a reputation for playing the bad guy.

As well as snubbing a new contract at Arsenal, the defender was stripped of the captaincy after publicly criticising his own team-mates.

He was also dubbed a sulker for staging a sit-in following a defeat at Birmingham, while he quit Chelsea in 2006 with the club accusing him of threatening to score an own goal if he was not allowed to leave, something he vehemently denied.

It was perhaps no surprise there was a mixed response to him completing a shock move to Tottenham, but as Harry Redknapp's men target a top-four finish for the second season running, there can be few Spurs fans who now doubt the wisdom of that signing.

Redknapp is one of the shrewdest operators in the transfer market and never doubted his decision to bring in the France international.

At the time of his signing he dismissed worries of Gallas' temperament, saying: “It's all cobblers. What's he done? It's not the Yorkshire Ripper I'm signing, is it? He's a footballer, he plays football.”

The doubts of some supporters were certainly a distant memory by the time that Gallas produced a vital goalline clearance to deny Robinho during the second leg of the UEFA Champions League last-16 tie against AC Milan recently.

That was as close as the Italian giants came to overturning Tottenham's 1-0 advantage from the first leg and helped to highlight how Gallas has become a key part of the team that has challenged for domestic and European honours this term, forming a strong partnership with Michael Dawson at the heart of the defence.

Gallas felt he was unfairly criticised for his decision to make the switch to Arsenal's neighbours and is thankful that Tottenham have given him the chance to continue to prove he can still cut it at the highest level.

“When I signed, I just wanted to play football and show who I am,” he said. “Everybody judged me because I didn't have a good World Cup and I was criticised because I was injured last year. If I left Arsenal, it was for some reason. I won't say why now. The most important (thing) for me was to stay in London for my family and to play in the Champions League — Tottenham gave me that opportunity.”

Tottenham's European adventure was ended by Real Madrid in the quarterfinal stages recently, but Redknapp's side are firmly in the running to book an instant return to the Champions League, thanks in part to the exploits of Gallas.

The 33-year-old defender's experience has proved invaluable. So much so that he was handed a two-year contract extension recently.

“William fully deserves it, he has been top class,” added Redknapp.

“He has been one of the signings of the season. He has been magnificent for us and has played nearly all the games.” It seems Gallas will be sticking around in north London for a little while longer.

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