Florida-based Danny Thomas: 'The Spurs boys will love Orlando!'
17 July 2017|Tottenham Hotspur
His name was mentioned over and over as fans wrote to us in their thousands with their cherished memories of 1984 UEFA Cup Final glory during the build-up to the closure of White Hart Lane. Now, as we prepare for the first leg of our US tour in Orlando this week, we can hear from Danny Thomas himself, who has some useful pointers about the city having lived in the area for the last several years.
Now 55 and working as a physiotherapist in Florida, Danny played at right-back as we took on Anderlecht in the second leg of that famous 1984 European showpiece at the Lane – a game considered by many to have been one of the defining moments of our 118-year tenure inside that historic ground.
The sight of stand-in skipper Graham Roberts lifting the trophy understandably lives long in the memory for everyone of a Spurs persuasion, but the sound of the 46,258-strong crowd rallying behind Danny following his heart-wrenching miss in the penalty shootout with a stunning rendition of ‘there’s only one Danny Thomas’ was also recalled in so many fans’ accounts in the run-up to this past May’s White Hart Lane Finale.
Above: Danny Thomas (bottom right) as part of our 1984 UEFA Cup-winning side.
Of course, goalkeeper Tony Parks got Danny out of jail with a fine save from Anderlecht’s next kick to secure the silverware but, fast forward to the modern day and the former defender, who made 116 appearances for us between 1983 and 1987, scoring once, is loving life in the States and looking forward to welcoming our current first team stars to his neck of the woods for Saturday night’s tour opener against PSG at the Camping World Stadium, commonly known as the Citrus Bowl.
With his tickets for the game already secured, Danny is also set to join Ledley King at a special supporters’ event in Orlando on Thursday. Ahead of our visit, we’ve been chatting to Danny about life in the area and what we can expect when we touch down there later this week…
First of all Danny, how are you and what are you up to in Florida?
“Every day feels like a bit of a holiday, so life is treating me pretty well in general! After leaving Spurs I went straight off to physio school and I’ll be celebrating being a physio for 26 years this month, so that’s what I’m doing out here. I work in a private clinic treating outpatients and I couldn’t be happier doing that. I have four grandchildren at home in England and my daughter was married in March, so I was actually back in the UK then for a flying visit to attend that wedding. The grandchildren are a great joy – sadly because I’m over here I don’t see them as often as I’d like, but with things like Skype at least I’m not a total stranger when I go back home! In the main I’m just enjoying life in Florida with my wife and we have a lovely casual lifestyle.”
What is Orlando like and what can we expect when we arrive there?
“I’m about 25 miles from Orlando but it’s fair to say it’s becoming a proper football city. It has its own team now, Orlando City, and they’re doing reasonably well in the league here. People here love football, or soccer as they call it, so to see a Premier League team and a team from the French league in PSG come here and play is exciting for everybody. There’s a huge culture for football here and it’s always improving so the locals are really looking forward to seeing top quality teams come here and play. I think it will give them some perspective because they’ll be able to see exactly what the quality of football is like in Europe and I think it will help to push soccer forward in this neck of the woods.”
Where would you recommend the players go if they have any spare time?
“I think when you come to Florida you have to do Disney. It’s huge here and it’s the biggest attraction in the world – more people come here than anywhere else on holiday. There’s now about five different parts and they’re huge so at least to go and see one of those I think is worthwhile. Orlando is a great city in itself with great restaurants and a good night life. I don’t think the players will have time for too much of that but it is a great city if you’ve got time to explore it. Depending on how much time they’ve got, there are some great places to visit not too far outside of Orlando as well. For instance, there’s a place called St Augustine which is a wonderful city. It’s the oldest city in the United States so it has historical value and if they’ve got time to go and see something like that, I think it’s well worth it.”
Do you know much about the Camping World Stadium, where we’ll be playing?
“I went to watch Brazil play there a few years ago, so I know where it is and I have been there before but it’s had a revamp since that time and I haven’t been there since. I’m looking forward to seeing that now.”
Finally Danny, your name was mentioned so many times when our supporters recounted their memories at the closure of White Hart Lane. What would you have said if you could have addressed the fans on the day?
“I would have said that they’ve had over 100 years of great history in that stadium and they’re entering another era now which I think is going to be very exciting. They haven’t been as close to winning a championship for a long, long time. They’ve got themselves a very good squad, they’re going to have a new stadium and I think the future looks very exciting for them for the next few years. I would have said, although it’s sad leaving White Hart Lane, the future looks very rosy and it’s something to look forward to.”