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Pat's 70 for 70 - a life with Spurs

07 June 2015|Tottenham Hotspur

The one and only Pat Jennings turns 70 on Friday - to mark reaching the milestone, the legendary former goalkeeper has answered 70 questions.

The all-time goalkeeping great told us about his early years on Saturday and now we turn to his incredible career at Spurs.

Second behind Steve Perryman in our list of all-time appearances with 590 between 1964-1977, Pat helped us win the FA Cup in 1967, the League Cup in 1971 and 1973 and the UEFA Cup in 1972. He also scored against United in the 1967 Charity Shield and was named Football Writers' Footballer of the Year in 1973 and PFA Player of the Year in 1976.

Below: Pat in training, 1971


What was it like walking into a changing room full of 'double' winners in 1964?
“I’d read and seen so much about that team, so you can imagine what it was like. In those days, everyone changed together – Bill Nick, Eddie Baily, all the players - but the great thing was that everyone made me feel welcome, and that was the important thing.”

What was Danny Blanchflower’s influence, the skipper and Northern Ireland legend?
“Danny was facing retirement with his knee problems at the time. He would always encourage me and that was all I needed. I never knew what was required at the highest level. Any mistake you made, you got punished. But that was the great thing about Danny and Jimmy Greaves, he would always say ‘keep going Pat, you’re going to be the greatest’ and I never forgot that.

Can you remember your debut?
“Yes, Sheffield United at White Hart Lane (August 22, 1964). We won 2-0. I remember coming out and catching a cross with one hand and the crowd went ‘yes’. That was nice, to get a good win under my belt. But I struggled in the first season and shared with Bill Brown. In the second half of the second season I got in again and then stayed there for 13 years. It was all a learning process for me, and there were no goalkeeping coaches in those days.”

Below: Pat with the 1967 FA Cup-winning team


What was it like to win the FA Cup in 1967?
“The buzz was all about the London scene at the time and all you would read about was the FA Cup Final coming up between Spurs and Chelsea. It was the glamour competition, a massive occasion. I knew from watching FA Cup Finals as a kid that if I made a mistake, I’d be watching it for the rest of my life. It was a relief to go and win it. I was half at fault for their goal, but I’ve watched the tapes back and I made some decent saves in that game, including one of my best from Charlie Cooke.”

What was it like playing in the successful team of early 1970s?
“We were always being compared to the double team and the nearest we came to repeating that was in 1967, when we won the FA Cup and finished runners-up level with Forest, behind United.  Into the 1970s, we had the wins in the League Cup (71, 73) and the UEFA Cup (72) but we then started slipping away. We ended up fighting relegation in the mid-70s.”

How difficult was it when the club starting slipping towards relegation?
“That was difficult. The policy had changed, we weren’t buying the Chivers, Peters and Mullery’s of this world anymore and in many ways, the writing was on the wall. We needed to beat Leeds at home to avoid relegation in 1975 but we went down in 1977.”

What was your highlight?
“On a personal level, you can’t compare Football of the Year 1976 and the Football Writers Footballer of the Year in 1973. The first FA Cup win in 1967 was special but then the other side of the coin, when we beat Leeds 4-2 to avoid relegation in 1975. That was the other side of football and an incredible night.”

Below: Pat with the great Bill Nicholson


How would you describe your relationship with Bill Nicholson?
“I’d probably say as good as anyone! He was a total perfectionist. I think he only ever once paid me a compliment and even that was back-handed! We’d played Grasshoppers Zurich out in Switzerland, we won comfortably but I’d had to make a few saves. When everyone came in, Bill said ‘you lot should give the goalkeeper your bonuses tonight’ and that was it, 13 years I was with him. But you expected that from Bill. If you were nine out of 10, he wanted to know what happened to the other one. That’s the way he was.”

What about your relationship with the fans?
“I was one of the lucky ones. I look back at video now and I’m making a save and the fans are right there behind me, and that made a difference, especially being a goalkeeper. Any goalkeeper would say that if you get the fans on your side, you are more than halfway there. It’s great to have that relationship and I’ve been lucky enough to have that throughout what is now 51 years here, give or take a couple.”

Below: Pat with Martin Peters after winning the League Cup  in 1973


What did it mean to play for the club for 13 years and have that 51-year relationship with Spurs?
“In the first place, to be asked to sign for such a huge club was massive. My only regret was I didn’t win a championship medal here. The worst day in my life was when I was told I was surplus to requirements here. I came back in 1985 and there are no doubts where my loyalties are. I joined the coaching staff in 1993, and I’m still here.”

Tomorrow: Pat on the greats...