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Class of 51 - Alf Ramsey

02 March 2016|Tottenham Hotspur

Manager Arthur Rowe used just 19 players when we won the Division One title for the first time in season 1950-51. Now, 65 years on, we pay tribute to each one. Here John Fennelly spotlights the contribution of full-back ALF RAMSEY.

Games: 40. Goals: 4.

There were many key components of our great side of 1951. And one of the most important was the man known as the ‘General.’

He would captain Spurs following the departure of Ron Burgess, regularly skippered England as he won 32 full caps and famously led his country to World Cup success in 1966.

Although Alf Ramsey was born in Dagenham and played for Essex Schools, it was Portsmouth who first showed interest in him but they failed to follow that up. With the arrival of World War Two, Alf joined the army and was playing for his battalion in a trial match at Southampton when Saints were impressed enough to take him on.

That was in October, 1943, and he was a professional by the following August. Southampton moved him from centre-half to right-back and, on cessation of hostilities, he became a regular in their first team and represented England at ‘B’ level. By 1948 he was playing for the Football League and then stepped up for his first senior England cap.

Spurs boss Arthur Rowe was certainly a fan. He appreciated that Ramsey could easily become a fulcrum in his ‘Push and Run’ side due to Alf’s calm play, short-passing game and his superb tactical brain. So he was willing to pay Saints a record fee for a full-back - £21,000 – when we signed the 29-year-old at the second attempt in May, 1949.

One of the finest defenders around, he became the final piece in Rowe’s jigsaw and, by co-incidence, his first England outing as a Spurs player was against Italy at White Hart Lane later that year. In fact his first ever game at the Lane had been for Saints against Arsenal in the war league when the Gunners shared our ground.

Below: Alf at the Lane


He missed just one game in season 1949-50 as we raced to promotion and chipped in with four goals - three from the penalty spot. He was absent twice when we won the title the following season and again he scored four times - all penalties at which he specialised.

He also took a mean free-kick and set up many of our attacks by collecting the ball from goalkeeper Ted Ditchburn and building from the back, as opposed to the long punt upfield that was favoured at the time.

He took over as Ipswich Town manager in August, 1955, lifting them from the Third Division (South) to the league title in 1962. His Ipswich side beat us home and away that season and effectively ended our hopes of a second successive 'Double'.

Alf became England manager in October, 1962, and was knighted after that World Cup win.  Sadly he died in Ipswich in April, 1999, at the age of 79.