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Elvis, Sinatra.... and Bill Nicholson!

Posted on 24 October 2014  - 10:00

“Bill Nicholson, the greatest manager who ever lived without a doubt.”

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Could former defender Terry Naylor pay a greater tribute to our legendary boss on the 10th anniversary of his passing?

Well, in his own unique way, perhaps he could!

The 65-year-old, who played 103 games under Bill’s tutelage and got a first-hand experience of his methods, these days enjoys a sing-song on the London pub circuit – often showing off his vocal talents behind the microphone at various venues around the capital.

So it’s no real surprise that he chose to illustrate Bill’s legendary stature by making comparisons to two icons of the music industry.

“You had some people like Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra out of all the great singers who had charisma more than anyone else and Bill had the same thing as a manager. He had this aura about him,” said Terry, who made 304 appearances for us in total between 1970 and 1980 before going on to play for Charlton Athletic.

“I suppose another one who had it at the time was Bill Shankly - probably Brian Clough as well. They had this feeling about them that they were gods of football. I’m sure they never knew it because they were too respectful to the job they were doing but to me they were naturals at it, they knew how to get the best out of players.”

On Bill’s management style, the Islington-born full-back says he was as organised as can be.

“He was a marvellous man and a marvellous manager. You had nothing but respect for him,” he continued. “He was thorough with all of his training sessions and he knew a lot about the opposition we were facing – he made it his mind to know a lot about them so nothing was left unanswered. He had answers for everything and he set the team out accordingly.”

Terry, like many of our ex-players, remained in regular contact with Bill following his retirement – and admitted he got to see a different side of his former manager.

“I went to a few parties around Bill’s house for ex-players and friends and I became quite close to him and his wife, Darkie,” Terry added.

“He never let anyone into his mind when you were playing at the height of your career but later on he was a different character. Perhaps it was because he’d done it all and he was settling down. You’d see the other side of Bill which you didn’t really see when you were playing.

“You just had 150 per cent respect for that man. He’d gone through many, many years of worry and stress in making Spurs such a terrific team and to uphold that standard throughout his managerial career must have been very hard.

“Obviously people get old together and you have to make changes and Bill was no different from anyone else in that degree, but when you go back to the mid-1950s when he took over, right through until 1974, it was unbelievable what he did for Tottenham. People like him were like a god to you and you had nothing but admiration for these people. Maybe not all players necessarily felt the same but that was my perspective, definitely.”