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Mackay at 80 - happy birthday Dave!

14 November 2014|Tottenham Hotspur

Happy 80th birthday to one of our all-time great players - Dave Mackay.

Born on November 14, 1934, Dave won the lot at Hearts in Scotland before joining Spurs in March, 1959.

For many, he was the final part in the jigsaw for Bill Nicholson's team that went on to win the league and FA Cup double in 1961, retain the FA Cup in 1962 and then become the first British team to triumph in Europe with the Cup Winners Cup in 1963.

Dave was the inspiration for that team, the driving force from midfield who went on to recover from breaking his leg twice - one leg break ended many a career back them - to lift the FA Cup at Wembley in 1967, his greatest day.

Few who played with him would argue with Bill's description that Dave was his greatest-ever signing.

So as Bill's greatest-ever signing and key man in our greatest-ever team, it's no surprise that Dave is placed at the very top of players who have turned out for this great club since 1882.

Team-mate Cliff Jones, who turns 80 next year, gave his thoughts on Dave this week.

"When people ask me about the double team I always say that the most influential player I ever played with was Dave Mackay," said the Welsh legend.

"Bill Nicholson went up to Scotland in 1959, Hearts had won everything and one of the main reasons for that was Dave Mackay. Bill Nick signed Mackay and he brought that will to win, that commitment and we took off from that moment.

"He was one of the biggest reasons why we were so successful in those glory days.

"People always talk about how tough he was and of course he was, but he was also very skilful. He had the lot, the whole game. He had the skill that was right up there with the best of them and mixed that with his commitment, his will to win. He was a special player.

"He eventually left us for Derby (in 1968), Brian Clough recognised his ability and they took off as well. They won the championship soon after. He was a special character.

"Away from football, he was a great lad, enjoyed his life, loved a round of golf and was involved in everything that was going on. He was a great character.

"That was one of the reasons we did so well. We were all different characters and temperaments, we all got on well socially and we took that onto the field. And Dave Mackay was always right in amongst it all!"

Dave at the Lane before our Europa League play-off against Hearts - August, 2011


Another team-mate and legendary midfielder Alan Mullery took over the captaincy from Dave when he left us in 1968.

Alan played with Dave and against him before joining us in 1964. "I think he was the best all-round footballer I’ve ever seen, he could play in any position, he even played in goal for Scotland once for half an hour and never let a goal in!

"On the pitch he was inspirational. You could be losing by three or four but he’d still believe that you could win.

"I never played on the same five-a-side team as him because Cecil Poynton (coach) used to love seeing people getting stuck into each other and that used to happen to Mackay and myself most mornings! He was just a fantastic footballer."

But you don't have to take a Spurs word for Dave's place in football history.

Sir Alex Ferguson wrote the foreword in his autobiography, 'The Real Mackay'.

"I have always believed that football throws up a player for every era and Dave is the player for his era, representing strength, dignity, fairness and value for money.

"He played the game in the right manner, never complaining; he knew it was a man’s game and conducted himself accordingly.

"He never set out to hurt another player, although plenty of others set out to hurt him, such was his influence over a side and their destiny.

"I played against Dave only once, when I was 16. He was awesome and I knew I was privileged just to be on the same pitch as him. Going into a tackle with Dave was like running, full-on, into a brick wall."