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Pat at 60: Northern Ireland

Posted on 7 September 2005  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Pat Jennings turned 60 this summer and to mark the occason, we look back on the career of the goalkeeper many consider the best in the world...ever.


The facts say it all. 'Big Pat' played 673 games 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 two World Cups.


In his time at White Hart Lane, 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.


Part six: Northern Ireland


I MADE my debut for Northern Ireland on the same night that George Best made his debut back in 1964. We beat Wales 3-2 at the Vetch Field. I’ve said it so many times, but someone kept putting me on the next rung of the ladder and that was the way it was happening for me at the time, I was just going along with it. My debut came out of the blue because Harry Gregg was in goal but we’d just been hammered 8-3 by England at Wembley and we were looking for new players and that was why I was picked, it was probably the same for George.


I was 36 by the time we qualified for the World Cup Finals and naturally, by that time, I’d began to think we’d never make it again. Just think about George, he never played in the World Cup finals and what a shame that is. You can imagine what an occasion it was when we qualified for Spain. We were very fortunate looking at the size of the country that we managed get a group of players good enough to qualify for two finals. I still believe we didn’t get the credit we deserved. We’d last qualified in 1958 and the next was 1982 and then 1986.


Most people remember that famous night when we beat the hosts Spain in the 1982 finals in Valencia. We had Mal Donaghy sent off but it was one of those magic nights as Gerry Armstrong scored and we managed to hold on. That meant we topped the group and progressed to the knockout stages — also a group - where we played Austria and France, that great French team that included the likes of Platini, Tigana, Giresse and Rocheteau. After a 2-2 draw against Austria we needed to beat France to progress but they ended up winning 4-1, although Martin O’Neill scored early on, a goal that was disallowed.


We then managed to qualify for the 1986 finals with a goalless draw against England at Wembley. It was my birthday on June 12 1986 and everyone kept buying me cakes — I felt about 60 by the end of it! To go out of football with your last game against Brazil in the World Cup Finals, it’s a dream come true. We knew we’d be up against it against Brazil and we wanted to keep it tight and try and catch them on the break. Of course, they ended up winning 4-0 with that great goal from Josimar. I don’t I’d have saved that even if I had wings!