02 January 2015|Tottenham Hotspur
Alan Mullery admits to this day that there were a few doubts when Bill Nicholson approached him 50 years ago to join Spurs.
Rebuilding the great team that won the league and FA Cup double in 1961, retained the FA Cup in 1962 and made history by lifting the European Cup Winners Cup in 1963, Bill turned to Fulham’s bright young star with an eye to becoming the long-term replacement of the great Danny Blanchflower, captain during those glory, glory years of the early 1960s.
Danny is regarded as one of the most graceful players of all-time, a reader of the game, tactician and Alan, 22 at the time, was the epitomy of an all-rounder, box-to-box, that mix of hard graft and skill.
“When Bill came to Fulham and said ‘I want to sign you and take you to Tottenham’, I didn’t believe him!” said Alan.
“I was very happy at Fulham, my wife and I lived in a place called Worcester Park, which was only 20 minutes away from Fulham’s training ground and it was a big chance to take because the fella who had just finished playing was the great Danny Blanchflower.
“To come in and take his place in what was basically the double-winning team - with the addition of Jimmy Greaves - was an absolute nightmare, to be fair, and I was very worried about it.”
Below: Alan with Harry Kane
Safe to say though, eight and a half years later, with 373 competitive appearances, three major trophies and the captaincy of both Spurs and England under his belt, it was the right decision!
“After two or three months I got into the swing of it, push and run football and it was wonderful to play and in front of 60,000 fans at White Hart Lane as well. It was great and I really enjoyed it.
“I had eight and a half years here and eight of them were fantastic, the other six a bit tough, but I got over that. Now, this club is part of my home.”
Alan helped us lift the FA Cup in 1967 and was made captain when his fellow legendary midfielder Dave Mackay - still seen to this day as the club’s most influential signing ever - moved to Derby County in 1968.
By now an England regular and destined for a place in the 1970 World Cup squad, Alan went on to lift the League Cup in 1971 and then arguably his greatest moments in a Spurs shirt, scoring as we toppled AC Milan over two legs to reach the final of the UEFA Cup in 1972 before securing the trophy with a brave diving header in the second leg against Wolves.
Fans of a certain age will still recall Alan being chairlifted around the Lane, trophy in hand, for what seemed an eternity after the final whistle on another history-making night as we became the first British team to lift two different European trophies.
Below: Alan with the UEFA Cup in 1972
When he looks back now, over 40 years later, Alan doesn’t really pick out a favourite Spurs moment, his career here one big personal highlight.
“I was a kid born in Notting Hill and one of the first players (from that area) to play for England at football, we had a lot of boxers, cricketers - my cousin, John Murray, played for England many times - and I look at that and the achievement of playing here at Spurs, winning the FA Cup against Chelsea in 1967, the League Cup in 1971 and the UEFA Cup in 1972, playing in Europe, travelling all over the world, it was absolutely fantastic.
“When I look at it, I became an England player and captain of England, captain of Tottenham, won three trophies, played nearly 400 games - it can’t get better, can it? That was the highlight of my career, eight and a half years at Spurs. I still come here every home game and love it.”