Dawson grateful for second chance
Michael Dawson is grateful to manager Andre Villas-Boas for giving him the opportunity to prove his worth at Tottenham.
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21. Michael Dawson
Dawson will lead Spurs into the booming cauldron of St Jakob-Park tonight, knowing that victory over Basle will secure Tottenham's first European semi-final appearance in 29 years.
Rewind eight months and it was a completely different story for the England centre-back. Just a matter of weeks after being anointed as club captain, the 29-year-old was told he could leave for QPR, who had a £9million bid for the player accepted.
Dawson turned down the move and, since the festive period, has become an ever-present in the heart of the Tottenham back four.
Villas-Boas had supreme faith in William Gallas, Jan Vertonghen and Steven Caulker so he was under no pressure to give Dawson another chance, but the former Nottingham Forest man is certainly glad he did.
"I wasn't involved in the first game of the season, but the manager saw that I was working hard and he gave me a chance," Dawson said.
"It's been an interesting season, to say the least.
"In the summer I was out of the team, but I stayed because I believed I could get back into the team and I could help the team achieve things. Now I am playing I am loving every minute of it."
Dawson could quite easily have taken advantage of QPR's deep pockets, but he insists the thought of leaving the club where he has spent the last eight and a half years never crossed his mind.
"Had I wanted to, I could have gone but I never, ever gave it a thought," Dawson said.
"I love playing at the club. I'm captain of the team and it's a great feeling leading those boys out and, if I can help the boys to achieve things, it would be great."
To say his decision looks like a wise one would be an understatement.
While QPR's relegation from the Barclays Premier League looks set to be confirmed in the next few weeks, Dawson will be concentrating all his efforts on leading Spurs to a top-four finish, and possibly a place in next month's Europa League final in Amsterdam.
Spurs will need a dramatic improvement if they are to secure a place in the last four of the European competition, though.
They were outclassed in the first leg, going 2-0 down within 35 minutes. Basle missed numerous chances to kill the tie off and Gylfi Sigurdsson and Emmanuel Adebayor clawed the tie back to 2-2.
The away goals rule, and Basle's excellent home form - they have not lost at home since August - mean progression to the semi-finals will be tough. The absence of Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon, and Jermain Defoe damages Spurs' chances greatly.
Flares, booming drums, and huge banners are expected to greet the players at the stadium, but, as a man who has overcome the odds on a personal level this season, Dawson is confident his squad can pull off an upset.
He said: "We know we're away from home and Basle is a tough place to play. But if we get the win we're through.
"We're in a good position to go through, despite what some think.
"Win a football match and we're in the semi-final. That's our aim."