NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 328
Submitted by Norman Giller
So one game to go to the end of this surreal season, and Our Harry Kane is determined to finish his injury-hit campaign with a bang at the Palace on Sunday. Millions of words have been written about Harry and his goals, but it’s what he does in his all-round game that lifts him into the realms of the majestic.
There were two moments in yesterday’s flattering but very acceptable 3-0 victory over Leicester that illustrate why I rate Aitch one of the greatest Tottenham players I have seen in my 70+ years witnessing the Spurs odyssey.
First, his contribution to the opening goal gifted to Tottenham in the seventh minute. He was thirty yards behind Sonny when he found the careering Korean with a perfect ball. That was excellent, but what happened next was mind-blowing. When Sonny arrived in the penalty area and produced the shot that was deflected into the Leicester net Our Harry was somehow in front of him! He made a Usain Bolt type run into the box to show that he is not bothered by the hamstring problem that sidelined him for months.
It’s not often that a pass gets me jumping out of my seat, but Harry’s reverse ball to Sonny early in the second-half was the sort of delivery you would expect from a world-class schemer. Sadly, Sonny tripped over and was unable to convert it into what would have been one of the goals of the season.
(Talking goals of the season, Sonny quite rightly collected the trophy for Tottenham’s best goal of 2019-20 with his fantastic pitch-long solo run on the way to scoring against Burnley In December … and for good measure he was also voted Spurs Player of the Year, Juniors’ Player of the year and World Supporters’ Player of the Year. Well done, my Son).).
Our guru Paul H. Smith gives his accurate account of how Tottenham managed to beat Leicester 3-0 HERE in what was a must-win match for both teams. Our Harry, four goals in two matches, was confident enough last night to say he was hoping for another couple at the Palace. The King has spoken, and is not the type to make empty promises, but just a word of warning: it’s never a pushover at the Palace.
We must get accustomed to the negative what-we-have-we-hold tactics of the second-half against Leicester, because this is the way Jose Mourinho has collected more trophies than almost any other manager in modern times.
It is not pretty but it is effective, and Spurs go into the last match against Crystal Palace with every chance of making it into the Europa League next season, a tournament of which Jose says: “We do not just want to be in it. We want to win it.’
That is surely music to the ears of even the most jaundiced of Tottenham supporters.
Something not so musical to the ears is Jose continually using the offensive rhymes-with-Roger-Hunt ‘C’ word in a warts ’n’ all documentary being prepared by Amazon Prime for release in the Autumn. I was close to Bill Nicholson for 40 years and never once heard that unnecessary word slip through his lips.
What a pity they can’t bleep it out. Just stop and think how many young supporters are going to see (and hear) it. A leaked snippet has already gone viral on line. What an example to set. The producers are a bunch of See You Next Tuesday’s.
I can imagine Bill Nicholson saying in the great stadium in the sky: “Standards, gentlemen. Standards.”
On to the Palace and let’s hope we’re bowing the knee again to King Harry. Keep the faith. COYS!
On a personal note, I have just become a proud great granddad for the first time, to twin boys Aubrey and Felix. That’s the great news. The bad news, I’ve lost a battle to claim them for Spurs. Their Mum, Sarah, has registered them for Liverpool. Could be worse. My grandson Alexander, their Dad, wants them to follow him as a Man United supporter. Wonderful parents but no football taste whatsoever. Wait until I start filling their ears with tales of Tottenham. Mind you, Jose Mourinho has got to wash his mouth out first.
As we are virtually out of the lockdown, here at Spurs Odyssey we continue with the serialisation of my story of Tottenham’s goal scorers. The book is called Shooting Spurs, with all profits going to the Tottenham Tribute Trust (actually, I’ve passed some of the income on to the NHS, sure nobody will mind). It spotlights every player in Tottenham’s history who has scored more than 50 League and Cup goals since the formation of the club in 1882.
You can get the book for your Spurs collection here: www.normangillerbooks.com.
Today we focus on a remarkable footballer who always did things his way on and off the pitch …
Born Highams Park, Waltham Forest: 2 April 1966
Playing career span with Spurs: 1992-97/2001-03
Goals in 277 matches: 124
TEDDY SHERINGHAM graced Spurs with his goals in two spells at White Hart Lane when he cemented himself into club legend with his cultured performances and cheerful personality. He was very much a modern footballer, like Martin Peters ahead of his time in his reading and execution of the game.
Using his tactical brain like a soccer scientist, Teddy would lie deep as if a hidden assassin and then come through as an unseen support striker and collaring goals before defences were even aware of his presence.
He was the thinking footballer’s footballer, subtle and cunning and able to almost tip toe into dangerous areas like an uninvited guest at a party, and invariably the one who took the cake.
His extraordinary career stretched 24 years from when he was first spotted by Millwall while playing youth football for amateur club Leytonstone & Ilford. He was hugely influenced at The Den by manager George Graham, and amassed 111 goals between 1983 and 1991 for the Lions before Brian Clough came calling to whisk him off to Nottingham Forest.
His move to Forest and then to Tottenham was to become the fodder for football folklore. It emerged during the bitter court case between Alan Sugar and Terry Venables that Teddy was the innocent player in cloak and dagger transfer dealings that allegedly involved Cloughie pocketing a famous “bung”. It was never proved to be true, but the story accompanies every relating of Teddy’s colourful life and times. Cloughie, of course, had an answer: “A bung?” he said, with his distinctive eyebrows raised, “The only bung I’ve ever heard of is the one you plonk in the bath.”
An unashamed playboy who liked a pretty girl on his arm and the challenge of a late-night game of poker, Teddy was a frequent visitor to the celebrity gossip columns. But it was on the football pitch where he always gave we soccer scribes something to write about. His eleven goals in 51 appearances for England – when he formed the explosive SAS partnership with Alan Shearer – was just part of his success story.
Amazingly, he had to wait until he was twenty-seven and an established favourite at White Hart Lane before he got his first cap in a 1993 World Cup qualifier in Poland.
After collecting 75 Premier League goals in his first five-season spell at Tottenham, the Great Director moved to Alex Ferguson’s all-conquering Manchester United and started to gather the medals his beautifully honed skill deserved.
He was an enthusiastic and productive member of the Manchester United team that won three Premiership titles, one FA Cup, one Champions League, an Intercontinental Cup and an FA Charity Shield during his dazzling days at Old Trafford, where he was as idolised as he had been at White Hart Lane.
Teddy Sheringham, the Great Director. Sketch ©Art Turner
The crowning moment of his career came when he scored the equaliser and then conjured the assist for Manchester United’s dramatic last-minute winning goal in the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final against Bayern Munich at the Nou Camp stadium.
His peak performance in an England shirt was his two-goal man-of-the-match display in the 4-1 hammering of Holland at Euro 96, and being part of Terry Venables’ England set-up is something he recalls with pride.
“Everybody was tipping the Dutch to tear us apart,” he recalled. “We outplayed them and the nation went potty. It doesn’t get better than that. Terry could really communicate with his players,”
His performances continued to enchant and excite spectators regardless of their club persuasion, and in 2001 he got the distinguished double recognition of both the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year awards.
From Tottenham, we looked on at his success with a mixture of envy and pride in his exploits. The roars of delight that he was coming back to the Lane in 2001 could be measured on the Richter Scale. Glenn Hoddle manager, Teddy Sheringham scorer. It was the dream team.
But the two giants of the game – opposites in life style and tastes – just could not get along with each other, and when Teddy moved on to join Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth on a free transfer in 2003 he made a barbed attack on Hoddle when he said: “I’m looking forward to playing for a manager who can communicate with his players.” Ouch.
In his second spell at Spurs, Teddy added 26 goals in 80 appearances to join the exclusive 100 club, just as he had at Millwall at the start of his career. To this day he insists he should have had a last-minute penalty against Blackburn in the 2002 League Cup final that might have made a major difference to the Hoddle reign as manager.
From Portsmouth, he moved to West Ham and helped them gain promotion and reach the 2006 FA Cup final. At 40 years and 268 days he was the oldest player to score a Premier League goal. He then signed for Colchester, where he had his final shots at the age of 42. His service to football was marked in 2007 with the award of an MBE.
He later had a crack at management with League Two club Stevenage and ATK of the Indian Super League. But managing did not come as easily to him as playing.
Teddy, happier at the poker table, was quite a card.
Next week, the Robbie Keane goals collection.
Each week before we start season seven of the Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, I am asking you a trivial question just to keep you on your Tottenham toes. By all means send me your answer to SOQLTeaser@normangillerbooks.com but only for satisfaction, not points. I will, as usual, reply if I possibly can. This week’s off-beat Teaser:
Which former trophy-winning Spurs manager started his League playing career as a defender with Liverpool, and at which club was he coach immediately before joining Tottenham?
Last week’s question: Which former Spurs manager won 52 caps, started his managerial career with Swindon and what number shirt did he wear in a World Cup winning team?
The answer: Osvaldo Ardiles, ‘Our Ossie’ who wore the number 2 Argentina shirt in the 1978 World Cup finals when the players were numbered alphabetically (if that makes sense!). As a matter of interest, the No 1 shirt was worn by another midfielder, Norberto Alonso.
See you back here same time, same place next week. COYS!
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