The famous White Hart Lane — the former home of the Tottenham Hotspur — has been demolished, and been rebuilt from the ground up into the now-pristine and all-new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which is where the Oakland Raiders and Chicago Bears will square off this Sunday.
Located in the middle of a neighborhood, the surrounding area features the homes and pubs of thousands of Hotspurs’ supporters, and for someone who’s never experienced a matchday at the stadium before, the environment isn’t comparable to any other event.
Prior to the Silver and Black’s arrival in London, Raiders linebacker Tahir Whitehead visited the stadium in July, meeting with the British press, and serving as the team’s ambassador. He helped coach a boys flag football team at the stadium and participated in other events, such as the NFL UK panel. The time across the Pond, and at the stadium, was a great opportunity for Whitehead to get a taste of the Hotspurs’ new digs, but after attending the team’s Champions League match against Bayern Munich Tuesday night, he has a heightened excitement heading into this Sunday.
“Electric,” said Whitehead when asked about the experience. “Seeing it last night in that form was amazing. That was my first soccer match and it was a good one — well, I’m not going to say that since [Tottenham] lost. The stadium, seeing it filled with fans was good to see.”
Whitehead was just one of many Raiders to attend the event, and the collective group couldn’t help but marvel at the beauty and size of the stadium, packed with 62,000 passionate fans. Prior to the match, each Raider that attended was given a custom-made kit with their name on it.
While the gesture was considerate and an honor, when Derek Carr showed up to the owner’s suite he felt a little underdressed.
“The stadium looks unbelievable, it’s first-class,” Carr said. “We were able to go up into the chairman’s suite and meet the chairman, owner, and all of those people wear nice suits when I did not have one. (laughter) I felt very underdressed, but just the details on everything, it was ridiculous. What I didn’t know is that at halftime they all went inside, and they all sit at a table and have tea. That was new to me also, but it was an honor that they allowed us to be there, it was a really fun experience and I had a great time.”
He added, “I’ve never been in a stadium that the acoustics were that good. I know, I’m nerding out a little bit, but yeah, I’ve never been to a Premier League match either or anything like that where the crowd is so into it at all moments. Every play they are singing back and forth, they’re jumping in rhythm. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever experienced. If the NFL could turn into something like that, it’d be a pretty special game.”
Whether it’s Carr, Whitehead, or any of their teammates, the general consensus was a resounding note of positivity in regards to last night’s match.
The atmosphere and vibe on Sunday might be a little different than it was Tuesday, as the Raiders and Bears are set to clash in the first NFL game at the new stadium. It’s sure to be jam packed with 62,000 fans and it should be fun watching former teammates Derek Carr and Khalil Mack face each other.