The prospect of Jan Vertonghen deputising for Danny Rose at left-back against Borussia Dortmund was concerning enough for Tottenham fans, but when the team sheet showed him at left-wing back doubts developed into outright worry.
How would his hamstrings hold up with the extra running? Would he provide the width and attacking threat expected of a player in a more advanced starting position with the security of an extra centre-back behind him?
They need not have feared. Despite some first-half snags, Vertonghen’s forceful and dominant second-half display propelled Spurs forward and saw them overwhelm the Bundesliga leaders.
There was also the small matter of scoring Tottenham’s second goal to put them in control of the tie, darting across the face of goal to meet Serge Aurier’s cross.
Vertonghen draws fewer plaudits and headlines than central defensive partner Toby Alderweireld but deserves to be ranked among the most astute signings of the decade, arriving in 2012 for less than £10 million.
Excelling in an unnatural position is testament to a player’s tactical understanding and well-rounded game, and Vertonghen’s education at Ajax – where players are moved around the pitch during their teens – will have served him well.
Here are some other players who exceeded ‘doing a job’ in an awkward position.