Spurs are yet to concede in five games the Romanian has started since upwardly mobile defender arrived at the Lane
Of all the qualities that persuaded Tottenham to spend £8.5m on the Romanian defender Vlad Chiriches in the summer, it is probably safe to say that loyalty was not among them. Since moving to Benfica in 2007 at the age of 17, an adventure curtailed by a combination of injury and homesickness, he has played for five clubs in six years. It is a series of staccato steps that has propelled his career inexorably upwards, culminating in his arrival at White Hart Lane, whereupon his agent said that "if he has one or two good seasons" he would be on the move again, perhaps to Chelsea.
These quotes angered André Villas-Boas, who insisted that Tottenham "consider ourselves a big club" who "are not a stepping stone to anybody". Chiriches's previous employer, the 24-times league champions Steaua Bucharest, might have felt similarly. Their owner initially resisted the sale, calling their general manager from prison, where he is serving a three-and-a-half year sentence for corruption, and exclaiming: "Who are Tottenham? Don't do the transfer! I am Gigi Becali! I am not a slave to anybody! They made a big mistake. They sparked anger in Gigi!"
"There were some complications with the owner of Steaua," Chiriches deadpans. "They resolved it and now I'm here. That's the past and now I'm living the present and the future. It is good to be on a team like this. It is good for, I don't know, my education. This situation improved me."
Though off the pitch he appears relaxed, with a ready smile forever playing upon his lips, it perhaps says something about his character that, at 23, he is already Romania's captain. (Asked whether he considers this a great honour, he shrugs. "Yeah, sure, but you know Romania is not a big country.") He was certainly prepared to fight for the opportunity to play in England. "I tell them: 'I want to go, I want to go.' And this is the result," he says. "I deserve it. When you see you are so close to a big club, and something happened and it's a bad feeling, you must [do something]."
And so Chiriches's career plan continues to pan out. "I played for small teams, and you know this was two years for every step, and I played for Steaua, a big club in Romania, and now this, the biggest step in my life," he says. "I think there is enough quality for Spurs to play for the Premier League, to win the league and, I hope, game by game, to be better and better."
Standing 6ft and so slender you fear a frustrated opponent might just snap him in two, Chiriches (it's Kirry-Kesh, not Chi-reaches) is not a stereotypical English-style centre-back. "Mine is a little bit different," he says, "I have to improve my physical side, but I think English football has changed a lot, and they now pass a lot and they dribble, so why not? I always watch the Premier League, and I spoke with some past players who came here, Gheorghe Popescu and Ilie Dumitrescu. They told me it is a big club with a big history."
Of the seven league games since his arrival, Chiriches spent the first two in the stands, then three on the bench, and the last two in the team. "I came here, I played, I do my job and now I'm in," he says. He has started five games in all competitions and Spurs have not conceded in any of them, with Everton out to end the run on Sunday afternoon. "I think it will be a tough one, but we have a good plan, I hope we'll perform good and we'll win," he says. So far, he always has.