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The Big Interview - Alan Mullery

Posted on 4 April 2015  - 12:30

Following the recent announcement that Alan Mullery is set to be inducted into the National Football Museum’s English Hall of Fame, we caught up with our legendary former captain to discuss his forthcoming honour and a host of other topics – including the recent England debuts of Ryan Mason and Harry Kane.

First of all, congratulations on your induction into the National Football Museum’s English Hall of Fame. How did it feel to get that news?
Alan Mullery: “I must say, when I read all the names there already, I was quite taken aback. I told the organisers that I felt very humbled to join such a group of people. That’s what hit me more than anything, such legends in their teams and it’s wonderful to join them.”

You are as modest as ever, but do you ever look back and think ‘actually, I did okay?’
Alan: “I’ve a wonderful family around me and I was never a footballer to them, always an uncle or a granddad. My daughter-in-law once said to me ‘dad, you’re on YouTube scoring that volley for Fulham* all those years ago’ and I said to the six-year-old ‘this is your granddad, watch this’ and he said to me ‘no granddad, that’s not you’. I said to him ‘what makes you say it’s not me?’ and he said ‘you’re not wearing your glasses’. That was a reality check! I’m really joyful about being inducted but it’s more for other people to say really. When I received my MBE, I said ‘how can that be me?’ and again, that was a huge surprise and a huge honour. To join so many great names in the Hall of Fame, including all those Spurs names, is something very special’.

*Alan won Match of the Day’s Goal of the Season in 1974 for a volley for Fulham against Leicester City.

What do you remember about joining Spurs in 1964?
Alan: “Bill Nicholson came to Fulham and said ‘I want to sign you and take you to Tottenham’, but I didn’t believe him. I was very happy at Fulham, my wife and I lived in a place called Worcester Park, which was only 20 minutes away from Fulham’s training ground and it was a big chance to take because the fellow who had just finished playing was the great Danny Blanchflower. To come in and take his place in what was basically the double-winning team – with the addition of Jimmy Greaves – was an absolute nightmare, to be fair, and I was very worried about it. But after two or three months I got into the swing of it and it was wonderful to play in front of 60,000 people as well. It was great and I really enjoyed it. I had eight-and-a-half years here and eight of them were fantastic, the other six months were a bit tough, but I got over that. Now, it’s part of my home.”

What do you think now when you look back at your days at Spurs?
Alan: “Being a kid born in Notting Hill and being one of the first players to play for England at football, we had a lot of boxers, cricketers – my cousin, John Murray, played for England many times – and I look at that and the achievement of playing here at Spurs, winning the FA Cup against Chelsea in 1967, the League Cup in 1971 and the UEFA Cup in 1972, playing in Europe, travelling all over the world, it was absolutely fantastic. When I look at it, I became an England player, captain of England, captain of Tottenham, won three trophies, played nearly 400 games – it can’t get better, can it? That was the highlight of my career, eight-and-a-half years at Spurs. I still come here every home game and love it.”

We have to remember, it wasn’t all about Spurs though – you made your name as a teenager at Fulham and then went back in 1972 and led them to the FA Cup Final in 1975.
Alan: “Yes, my second spell at Fulham was great and let’s be honest, it might just be the last time they get to the FA Cup Final. It was amazing at the time, for Bobby Moore and I – he was 36, I was 34 – to go back to Wembley, that was something special, but we lost on that occasion to West Ham.”

We spoke earlier in the season about Ryan Mason when he first broke into the team. What do you think now almost six months on, following his first England call-up and subsequent first cap?
Alan: “It’s something that probably didn’t even enter his head. The way his performances have gone since he’s been in the side, he’s improved a great deal. Now he’s a dominant footballer in the midfield and he’s down-to-earth, he’s come through the Academy, he’s had his time out on loan and there are no airs and graces about him, he goes out and does his job for 90 minutes and does it well. It’s the same with Harry Kane, he’s come through the Academy and gone out there and scored goal after goal after goal. Good luck to them.”

Do you remember your first England call?
Alan: “Again, I didn’t believe it! I was out with my wife and I’d not been at Spurs too long. England were playing Holland in Amsterdam and we were out shopping. A guy came up to me and said ‘congratulations’. I thought to myself ‘blimey, what now?’ but he told me I was in the England squad. I said to him ‘pull the other one’, said thanks and told my wife, to which she replied ‘no, where did he get that from?’ Anyway, when we got home, there was a letter from the Football Association. I remember, they always used to send it out on green paper. I opened the envelope and there it was, I was in the squad to play Holland in Amsterdam. The phone didn’t stop ringing after that!”

Alan is one of 10 football legends being inducted into the National Football Museum's English Hall of Fame at a prestigious awards ceremony on October 14.