CLEVELAND -- Around this time last year, Clint Dempsey made it very clear that he wanted to play at the highest level possible and was willing to do whatever it took to get to the UEFA Champions League.
After a protracted summer transfer saga between his then-club Fulham, Liverpool and eventually Tottenham, Dempsey got his wish. The midfielder's first year at Spurs was a rollercoaster with plenty of highs and lows and although Tottenham narrowly missed out on the Champions League for next year, he is still happy overall with his debut season at the club.
"I would say it was a good season but I wouldn't say it was a great season," Dempsey said. "I would say it was a good season for the first year being at a club. I'd say it was my third-best season in Europe with 12 goals and eight or nine assists in all competitions."
After joining Tottenham literally at the last minute of the transfer window in the end of August, Dempsey didn't have a chance to work with Spurs during their preseason. He admits that held him back and played a part to his slow start. Despite not reproducing his dominant form displayed in his final season at Fulham when he scored 17 goals in league play, Dempsey stands by his decision to leave the Cottagers and sign with Tottenham.
"I wanted to push myself so I could look back on my career and say every opportunity that I had I pushed myself to further my career, to really test and see what I was capable of doing." Dempsey explained. "I took advantage of it."
Fulham is one of England's smaller clubs and Dempsey admitted that moving from Craven Cottage to White Hart Lane was a big adjustment for him. Aside from the obvious changes of philosophies between Fulham's Martin Jol and Andre Villas-Boas, Dempsey compared the expectations between the two clubs.
"It's getting used to playing on a team with more pressure and being under the microscope even more because it's not just good enough to get draws. You have to win games," Dempsey stated. "They are a team that's always expected to win, whether you are away or at home. The competition for spots is more difficult and more challenging but that's what I wanted."
Dempsey believes that after a full preseason this summer, he should be able to improve on his first season at Tottenham. He is also enjoying the guidance of Villas-Boas and enjoys his thorough approach. The two men appeared to develop a strong bond as the Portuguese manager praised Dempsey work ethic and stuck with the attacking midfielder when he struggled early in the season.
"He's a good manager who really breaks down the game. He's always studying to help the team improve and also he's a good man-manager," Dempsey said.
"He's able to bring you to the side and talk to you. He'll also send you texts on the phone and stuff, so you always know where you stand. That's always a good feeling."
As for Dempsey's Champions League ambitions? The 30-year-old would like to play in the world's top club competition in the future with Tottenham but insists that he'll have no regrets if he doesn't get there.
"I've always wanted to play at the highest level possible," Dempsey said. "When I got to the Premier League, I wanted to play in the Champions League. Maybe one day that'll be for me, maybe it won't, but at the end of the day I can look in the mirror and say that I tried my best to make it happen."
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