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Pat at 60: There and back again

Posted on 6 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 five: There and back again


IT'S BEEN well documented the circumstances of my leaving Spurs and going to Arsenal — it’s all there in my autobiography. Basically, my contract was up at Tottenham and Keith Burkenshaw had made his decision that Barry Daines was going to be the goalkeeper at Tottenham for the next 10 years. So I was on my way out and the funny thing was, I’d actually done a deal with Bobby Robson to go to Ipswich Town but Trevor Whymark broke his leg and Bobby had to buy an outfield player instead. A few clubs were in for me but moving to Arsenal meant no family upheaval.


People always ask me how I managed to cross the great divide between the clubs but I remember one of the first games after I was named Footballer of the Year was at Highbury and they gave me a great ovation. I played well for Arsenal and as long as you are doing the business, fans will like you. If I'd gone there and been a failure it might have been a bit different. I knew the Northern Irish lads there in Pat Rice, Sammy Nelson and I settled quite well. The Spurs fans were also great when I came back.


I played at Arsenal until the 1982-83 season and I met Irvine Scholar at a function somewhere. He’d just read my book and how I’d left Spurs and assured me that I was always more than welcome at the club. Everything had changed by then and there was no getting away from the fact that Tottenham was my team. As it turned out, Peter Shreeves contacted me because Tony Parks had an injury, they were concerned and they wanted a back-up goalkeeper. Peter asked if I could help them out on the short-term for a month or so, play a few reserve games but I was back home in Ireland at the time. Peter rang me on the Sunday, told me there was a reserve match on the Tuesday and I was soon on a plane and playing against Chelsea.


I was pushing 40 then and played in the World Cup Finals at the end of that season. I also signed for Everton that season as cover for Bobby Mimms for the FA Cup, when they reached the final against Liverpool. I just helped them out for two weekends, came back to Spurs and then went to the 1986 World Cup as a Tottenham player.


I started coming regularly to the matches after that as a host in the hospitality lounges and was at the club every week throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s. When Ossie Ardiles came back to the club as manager he asked me to come in and do some goalkeeping coaching and I quickly went from one to two days a week, then three, then four. It’s ironic looking back because I’d gone throughout most of my career without a coach, although Bob Wilson was there at Arsenal, a couple of days a week. Most clubs these days have two or three full-time coaches. The game has changed since I first came over here to Watford!