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It was 50 years ago today...

Posted by Tottenham Hotspur on 9 June 2014  - 16:00

The great Pat Jennings signed for the club 50 years ago today – June 9, 1964.

Pat in action against United at the Lane, 1966Pat at the Lane, 1969Pat with Martin Peters and the League Cup, 1973Pat with fellow Northern Ireland great George Best and manager Billy BinghamPat with Bill NicholsonPat speaks at a recent event at the Lane

Speaking to us this morning, the legendary goalkeeper rated by many as the best ever admitted: “I can hardly believe it!”

Snapped up by Bill Nicholson from Watford just before his 19th birthday, Pat went on to make 673 appearances for Spurs between 1964-1977 and another 300-plus at Arsenal before winding down his career in a second spell at White Hart Lane. He also played 119 times for Northern Ireland, including the World Cups in 1982 and 1986.

In his time at Spurs, he won the FA Cup in 1967, League Cup in 1971 and 1973, UEFA Cup in 1972 and on a personal level, the PFA (1975-76) and Football Writers' Player Of The Year (1972-73) Awards.

“I can’t believe it was 50 years ago and likewise, 50 years ago in April that myself and George Best were first called up to the Northern Ireland international squad,” he said.

“I remember first meeting Bill Nicholson at Vicarage Road. The Watford manager Bill McGarry had called me in for some ‘extra training’, but Bill was there waiting for me.

“I’d never met Bill before and the first time I met him I referred to him as ‘Mr Nicholson’ and he said ‘forget Mr, just call me Bill’. You can imagine how I felt, there on first name terms with the great Bill Nick! That’s what he was like, so down to earth. We all called him Bill. Everyone had so much respect for the man. He ran the club from top to bottom.

“Actually though, I didn’t sign that day. I wanted to sign but in those days, players were due part of the transfer fee and I was trying to get a bit of money from Watford.

“I left Bill without signing - I think I was the only player to do that, but can you imagine not signing for the great Spurs team of the 1960s? The double, the first British team to win a European trophy and I’d turned them down!

“Well, a couple of weeks later, I received a letter from Bill asking if I’d reconsidered. I actually found that letter recently. Bill and Bill McGarry flew over to Belfast and I signed.

“I’ll never forget my first day at Tottenham because it was John White’s funeral. We all reported at White Hart Lane and then travelled to Enfield for his funeral.

“I had a brilliant career at Spurs until I left in 1977. I came back in 1993 as a coach under Ossie Ardiles and I’ve been at the club since, so a player from 1964-1977 and on the coaching staff since 1993, so that’s 13 years as a player and another 21 on the coaching staff, so that’s 34 years and it’s been fantastic.”

Below: Pat photographed at Spurs in 1964

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