In 2006, Spurs finally found themselves with an opportunity to qualify for the Champions League at the expense of Arsenal. What happened next is the stuff of legend.
All Tottenham had to do, on the final day, was match Arsenal’s result.
The Gunners were playing Wigan at home, whilst Spurs were travelling to Upton Park to face West Ham.
This seemed like the moment Spurs’ Champions League dream would finally become reality, until a dose of the trots left many of their players unable to compete.
The team ate in the Marriott Hotel at Canary Wharf on 6th May, the night before the game, and at least 10 players reportedly chose to eat the lasagne, before being woken up in the night with what was described as food poisoning.
Manager, Martin Jol, was woken at 5am by the doctor with reports of sick players, and Jol admitted he was feeling just as bad. He later explained: “We had 10 players in bed. Then we asked the Premier League to postpone the kick-off for three hours until six o’clock and that wasn’t possible.”
So they had no choice but to play on.
Michael Carrick, Robbie Keane and Jermain Jenas were all reportedly suffering, and it was Jenas who made the link to the pasta dish, saying: “Lasagne and spaghetti bolognese were on the menu, we ate, and then in the middle of the night we started dropping like flies. It was mayhem.”
Jenas ended up playing no part in the match, whilst Keane and Carrick made an effort.
Carrick had to be withdrawn after an hour, and the Spurs defence all looked a bit dodgy.
Arsenal ran away 4-2 winners against Wigan, whilst West Ham scored late on through the legend that is Yossi Benayoun, to beat Spurs 2-1.
Wenger’s side began another season in the Champions League, and Tottenham missed out yet again.
Later, it was revealed that police were called in by chairman Daniel Levy a couple of hours before the game, and blood and urine samples were taken to try and establish the cause of the sickness.
Reports of an Arsenal conspiracy spread quickly but were completely unfounded.
A consultant in communicable disease control at the North-East and Central London Health Protection Unit said that the outbreak may have been caused by viral gastroenteritis, rather than food poisoning.
Jol said at the time that he didn’t suspect foul play. The environmental health officers at Tower Hamlets council found that the Marriott had no case to answer, and absolved them of any wrongdoing.
But a key piece of the conspiracy theory was that the head chef at the Marriott was, reportedly, an Arsenal season ticket holder.
However, despite the facts of the case, Arsenal fans happily sing about lasagne to this day.