LONDON: Tottenham thought they were signing the Flanders Pele when they landed £15 million midfielder Moussa Dembele - but they got the Belgian Popeye, reported Daily Mirror.
Dembele posted a picture on Twitter of his mum's special dish - green pancakes made with spinach. Cooked, of course, in olive oil.
But unlike the celebrated cartoon sailor whose biceps bulged every time he necked a can of spinach, Dembele will not be flexing his muscles ostentatiously at White Hart Lane tonight after an unhappy experience in Europe with Fulham last season.
Dembele was sent off in Poland after becoming the fall-guy for Wisla Krakow thespian Gervasio Nunez, and as he prepared to launch Spurs' Europa League campaign with a glamorous date against Lazio, he promised: "I'll be keeping my hands to myself this time."
When Nunez deliberately trampled on Dembele's foot, the Belgian playmaker remonstrated by giving him the gentlest imaginable shove, only for the Argentine to collapse, clutching his face.
The incident soured Dembele's memory of Fulham's run.
"I didn't have a very happy experience in Europe last year - but I think it will be better with Spurs. We have the confidence to go a lot further.
"It was not easy to take the red card. The Argentine guy stood on my foot for no reason, I don't know why, and when I turned round and pushed him very softly on the shoulder, he fell down dramatically and I was sent off.
"I have to learn from this experience, but personally I don't like this style - I don't agree with people who dive to get their opponents sent off.
"I guess it's part of football, and everybody has his own way of trying to win games, but if players want to win by behaving like that, it is their problem.
"Unfortunately I think it is a bigger problem in Europe than in the Premier League - over here the mentality is to stand up and be strong, and that's why I enjoy playing for a club like Spurs, where the accent is on playing good football in an honest way.
"I am happy to be here because the style, and the manner of thinking, is in line with the way I think about the game."
And those green pancakes?
"The reason they are green is because my mum used to put spinach in them when I was a kid and they tasted unbelievable."
Dembele, like most observers, believes Spurs deserved to be getting their passports stamped in the Champions League this season instead of racking up air miles on Thursday nights and Channel Five.
Only Chelsea's miraculous larceny of the European Cup denied Spurs a deserved seat at the top table after their fourth-place finish under Harry Redknapp in the Premier League last season.
Redknapp regarded Europa League assignments as the graveyard shift, and his hybrid selection often underlined his scorn.
But new Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas, who won the competition with Porto two years ago, is promising to give it a full swing of the bat.
"It is not my place to criticise other people's position, but as a competition I believe the Europa League is extremely valuable and should be promoted," said the Portuguese.
"But it has two more rounds than the Champions League in the latter stages, and we have to be very careful because the Premier League is very strenuous and you can get into a very tight schedule between the end of February and May."
Much to the relief of the France goalkeeper who arrived at the Lane to find a 41-year-old blocking his path to first-team football, Hugo Lloris is expected to make his debut tonight.
Striker Emmenuel Adebayor's tight hamstring will not be risked, however, so deadline day signing Clint Dempsey could make his first start for Spurs.