When Dutch forward Steven Berwijn came on for Tottenham Hotspur in the 79th minute of the away match at Leicester, his team had just dropped behind after a James Maddison goal. Bergwijn was Antonio Conte’s emergency plan. And it worked to perfection, as he produced a fantastic impact in stoppage time, scoring two goals and giving Tottenham the three points.
Bergwijn first netted in the fifth minute of added time to equalize at 2-2, then less than two minutes later put Tottenham ahead to seal an unexpected win for the North London club.
We have no words for this. pic.twitter.com/eQAUaKleRi
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) January 19, 2022
Incredible scenes followed, with supporters, coaching staff members, and players celebrating together in the away end. Thanks to the victory in Leicester, Tottenham climbed to fifth in the Premier League table with 36 points in 19 games. They are now nine points behind second-place Liverpool, but have played two games less than they have.
Did Steven Bergwijn produce the best ever substitute appearance in Premier League history last night? 🤔
If not, let us know who you think beats him…👇pic.twitter.com/lVo87uIZhd
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) January 20, 2022
Bergwijn: ‘What did Conte tell me? Score goals!’
Talking to BT Sport after the game, the hero of the night revealed what the Tottenham manager told him before sending him on the pitch. Bergwijn was rumored to return to The Netherlands this month, with Ajax interested in adding him to their roster. His leaving Tottenham now looks unlikely.
“It’s fantastic,” Bergwijn said. “The fans had a fantastic day. I scored two goals, I am happy. The manager told me to score goals, to make life hard for the defenders and stay close to Harry [Kane],” he added.
Tottenham captain Kane hailed Bergwijn’s impact. “We never gave up and Stevey came on and made the difference. To get two goals like that – these are games you will never forget in a career.”
Wow that was madness. Football eh!?!? This guy 💙 pic.twitter.com/l9NHbcC28o
— Harry Kane (@HKane) January 19, 2022
Manager Antonio Conte was a happy man after his team’s effort. “Today to lose this game was not right. We created many many chances. We were unlucky when we conceded. At the end, we were very good and we believed to the end. We wanted three points and we deserved them,” Conte stressed to the BBC.
Bought from PSV Eindhoven for $37 million in January 2020, when Jose Mourinho was in charge, Bergwijn never had the impact he was expected have to at Tottenham.
He scored three goals in his first half-season, then just one in 21 outings in 2020-21. Since the start of the current campaign, he battled injury and only fully recovered recently. Before his brace in Leicester, he hadn’t scored in any of the eight league games he had been involved in.
“For me, he is an important player with a special type of characteristics. No one else in the team has these characteristics,” Conte explained. “He is good technically, he beats the man, he is a striker and in good physical condition. It is an important choice for me – I can make him in the starting 11 or bring him on in the game,” the Italian manager added.
If he builds on Wednesday’s performance, Bergwijn could become an important contributor in Tottenham’s bid for Champions League football. Spurs are now at +150 to be inside the top four at the end of the season. A bet on them finishing second returns +5500 while placing them below the top four is at -220.