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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 July, 2004, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Opportunity knocks for Postiga
By Phil McNulty
Our man in Portugal

A sight rarely seen at White Hart Lane - Postiga celebrating
Spurs outcast Helder Postiga is enjoying the sound of applause again as he leaves his White Hart Lane nightmare behind to become a hero of Portugal's Euro 2004 squad.

The young striker who spent so much of last season in the Premiership shadows is back in the limelight after making a brief but crucial contribution to Portugal's run to Sunday's final.

Postiga appreciates the irony of his appearance as a substitute against England, with the hosts 1-0 down and facing a premature exit from the tournament they wanted to claim as their own.

The man branded a flop scored a stunning late headed equaliser, plus the coolest penalty of the competition in the crucial shoot-out victory.

Those feats have restored Postiga to the status he enjoyed in his homeland with Porto before an ill-fated 8m move to north London in summer 2003.

Glenn Hoddle, the manager who signed him, was sacked shortly after his arrival and he did not fit into caretaker David Pleat's set-up, preferring a front partnership of Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe.

I was not a confident person last season, now I am confident after what has happened here
Spurs' striker Helder Postiga

Postiga's misery was compounded by Porto's victory in the Champions League final against Monaco - a sharp contrast to his own desperate struggles to establish himself at Spurs.

But back in familiar surroundings Postiga has blossomed.

So much so that he and fellow striker Nuno Gomes were cheered into the Portugal media briefing the morning after a long night of celebration following the semi-final victory against Holland.

And this was a far more confident Postiga than the one who enjoyed little pleasure in his first season in England.

He took time to warn new Spurs boss Jacques Santini that he was no longer content with a place on the sidelines, and delivered a direct hit on former director of football Pleat for refusing to play him during his spell as caretaker.

Postiga said: "Not playing a lot of games for Spurs last season was no good for me.

"I was not a confident person. Now I am confident after what has happened here so we will see next season.

New Tottenham coach Jacques Santini
Helder will be trying to impress Santini

"I'm the same player as I was at Tottenham. I was training very well and wanted to play, but David Pleat never gave me an opportunity.

"At this moment I don't know what my future is, if I will stay with Tottenham. If I play more and if the manager Jacques Santini has confidence in me, then I will see. I need to think about things."

Postiga added: "If I stay at Tottenham I want to play more games, but we will see what my future is after this tournament.

"I think this tournament has been fantastic for me and all the Portugal players. The supporters and the coach Luiz Felipe Scolari have confidence in all the players.

"I didn't have a good season in England, but we have got to the final of this tournament and this is wonderful for me."

I think it was a normal penalty, it wasn't my first time taking my penalty like that
Helder Postiga

Postiga admitted he regretted not being at Porto to share their Champions League success under new Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho.

He said: "It was difficult for me because I wanted to play at Tottenham and was not playing, but when I saw Porto win the trophy I was happy because I have many friends there."

And his verdict on the chipped penalty that fooled England goalkeeper David James?

"I think it was a normal penalty. It wasn't my first time taking my penalty like that - but the good thing about it was that it was a goal for Portugal."

Now Spurs must hope the newly-confident Postiga can bring some of his magic back to White Hart Lane under new coach Santini.

Report: Portuguese revel in success

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