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'The greatest Spurs player ever'

Posted on 25 August 2011  - 12:00

Harry Redknapp talks about the great Dave Mackay, a player carved in the histories of both Spurs and Hearts.

'The greatest Spurs player ever'

"People talk about the best player to ever play for Tottenham and Jimmy Greaves said Dave Mackay, so I’m not going to argue with Jim, he knows what he’s talking about."

Harry Redknapp doesn't need much persuasion to wax lyrical about Dave Mackay, clearly one of our manager's favourite all-time players, a man he watched train as a schoolboy at Spurs before playing against him during his time at West Ham.

Mackay has a special place in the hearts of both Spurs and Heart of Midlothian fans. How apt that 50 years on from our first European campaign, the European Cup in 1961-62, that we should meet in European competition, with the second leg of our Europa Leageue play-off at the Lane tonight.

Mackay was introduced to fans at the first leg at Tynecastle last week. After the standing ovation from all sides of the stadium, he was asked what he'd thought of the first half, as we led 3-0. "I wish I was out there," he said. "So do we," replied the pitch announcer.

The PA's response almost sums-up the aura of Mackay. He was a winner, a granite-tough leader of men, the heartbeat of our double-winning side who recovered from breaking his leg twice to lift the FA Cup at Wembley as skipper in 1967 and then, at the age of 35, inspired Brian Clough's Derby team to the Second Division title in 1969 and then returned as manager to take them to the First Division title in 1974.


Described as 'possibly the most complete midfield player that Scotland has ever produced' in last week's Hearts programme, Mackay inspired the Edinburgh team to their first silverware in 48 years when they won the Scottish League Cup in October, 1954. They won the Scottish Cup the following year and then the title in 1957-58. No wonder Hearts fans hold him in the same regard as everyone at Spurs.

He was signed by Bill Nicholson for £30,000 in March, 1959. Many believe it was Bill's best signing, perhaps even the best-ever by the club.

Seen by Cliff Jones as almost the final piece in the jigsaw of our greatest-ever team, Mackay helped us to the history-making double in 1961, the FA Cup in 1962 and a first European success for a British team in 1963, although he missed the Cup Winners Cup Final through injury.

He then captained the team to the 1967 FA Cup Final success over Chelsea before finally joining Derby in July 1969, almost 10 years and 318 competitive appearances later.

"He was amazing, wasn’t he?" said Harry. "He was unbelievable. He could do absolutely everything. His skill was fantastic, he was as hard as nails and there wasn’t a thing he couldn’t do.

"There was an aura about him and when he played he was like that, no-one messed with Dave Mackay.

"When you think he broke his leg twice and still came back, that's amazing. He was like two men on the pitch, he was that good.

"When you also think that Brian Clough took him to Derby County when he was almost coming to the end of his career at Tottenham and he turned them into a team that won the championship, that tells you what a fantastic signing that was by Cloughie, and what a fantastic player Dave was.

"He was one of the all-time great midfielders and there aren’t many other players you’d want in your team ahead of him."