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View from...Glenn Hoddle

Posted on 22 October 2009  - 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).

A legend was born - in football terms - at Stoke City's old Victoria Ground on February 21, 1975.

Just 18, the midfielder marked his full debut by smashing home a 25-yarder past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton in a 2-1 win in the old First Division.

He went on to make 490 appearances in all competitions for Spurs, win the FA Cup twice, the UEFA Cup and score some of the best goals in the club's history in his 110-goal tally.

Capped 53 times by England, 44 during his time at Spurs, he was seen as the most gifted player of his generation.

But it all started at Stoke - as Glenn Hoddle remembers all-too well.

"I made my debut coming on as a substitute at White Hart Lane in the August (against Norwich, 1975) but I had to be patient and wait a long time to make my full debut at Stoke, at the old Victoria Ground.

"I was told a couple of days before that I'd be starting. I thought, perhaps, as a youngster, I would be put in for a home game but instead it was Stoke and it's always a tough game up there. I thought ‘this is your chance' and I'd been waiting since August. Well this was it and I had to take it.

"I remember the goal because John Pratt was right next to me. The ball came out on my left foot and I remember Pratty shouting ‘hit it, Hod' and I remember thinking ‘that's exactly what I'm going to do, John' and the result was lovely.

Glenn Hoddle

"To score a goal like that on my debut, against a world-class goalkeeper, was a magical way of starting my career. I had every member of my family at the game and it was a wonderful way to hit the ground running, as such.

"Alan Hudson was playing for Stoke at the time and he was excellent with me as a youngster coming in, making my full debut, he could obviously see something in me. He was encouraging me throughout the game. He was trying to kick me at the same time, don't get me wrong, but he was magnificent and I took that on board when I was older and playing against younger players.

"The respect I had for Alan after that was incredible because it was a kind thing to do, in the heat of battle, to continue encouraging like that. Even after the goal I think he was purring more than I was! He said ‘magnificent, son' and it was a lovely lesson for me at that stage.

"The rest of the game was a bit of a blur. We were under the cosh and I half-expected to be hauled off. My defensive ability, especially in those days, wasn't the best and we had to battle for it.

Glenn Hoddle

"I learned a massive lesson that day, not just with the ball, but we had to work like anything to get the points. This was the real deal, not like in reserve football where if you're winning 3-2, you keep trying to win 4-2. This was all about earning two tough points away from home, as it was then and you could feel the pressure on the pitch. It was a real lesson for me that sometimes you don't have to play pretty, sometimes you have to do the job."

Debuts can make or break a player and while Glenn was able to celebrate a dream goal and can look back at a memorable career, he is all-too aware of the importance of the first full appearance.

"It's massively important and I'll give you an example," he said. "Ian Smith made his debut in the same match as me (Norwich), he then went up to Old Trafford and had a real torrid time, we lost the game and he never really got back in. That's how it can go.

"You shouldn't be judged on one performance, of course, but a debut can kick-start your career or it can make you have doubts. Obviously, it was a great way for me to start with the goal and that became a bit of a trademark for me over the years."

Glenn was back at Spurs Lodge on Tuesday when a couple of players from his new project, the Glenn Hoddle Academy (GHA), played as trialists for Dagenham & Redbridge in a training ground friendly against a strong Spurs XI.

The GHA was established last year in Jerez, Spain, with a goal of giving young players released by professional clubs the chance to train full-time with a view of getting them back into the game.

Glenn, Spurs Lodge, October 2009

"It's great to be back, the facilities are first-class and it's lovely to be here when the club is buzzing," explained Glenn at half-time during that game.

"I'm here because we (GHA) played Dagenham last week and John Still, the Dagenham manager, said he wanted to have a look at a couple of the lads. They are playing in this game but I didn't realise we'd be playing against such a strong team! It's a great experience for them.

"The players are Curtley Williams, who was at Ipswich and we took into the Academy a year ago and Alex Fisher, who we only took a month ago. He's been playing in amateur football at Oxford City and he must be pinching himself at the moment.

"Last week he played against Under-20 teams from Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, now he's playing against Jonathan Woodgate and Michael Dawson. He's learned a lot in the last month!

"It's so far, so good for the Academy. We've got seven or eight players back into the game and that's the objective, to give them that opportunity.

"One of those players is a dream story for us, Ikechi Anya. We took him from Halesowen and he's signed a two-year contract at Sevilla. He's already made his debut for the first team in a friendly and is doing wonderfully there.

"That's what this Academy is all about - we couldn't have scripted that better."