The foe you know - special edition on Brighton's Chris Hughton
12 December 2017|Tottenham Hotspur
In this special edition of our recurring ‘The foe you know’ feature where we examine the careers of former Spurs players who now represent our forthcoming opponents, we shine the spotlight on Spurs legend and current Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton – including a few thoughts from the man himself.
Chris Hughton’s long association with Spurs began back in 1972, when he joined us a schoolboy player, aged just 13 at the time. He rose through the ranks to make his senior debut for us against Manchester United in the League Cup on August 29, 1979. It was the first of 398 appearances he made for us through until 1990, during which time he scored 19 goals.
The left-back enjoyed three major trophy successes with us, starting both the original match and the replay in our FA Cup Final triumphs of in 1981 and 1982. He also played in the two legs of the UEFA Cup Final against Anderlecht in 1984, as we beat the Belgian side in a penalty shootout.
“If I had to choose the most special of those occasions, it would be the 1981 FA Cup Final and replay because that was my first cup final,” said Chris, now 59. “The first game certainly wasn’t the same as the replay. It was certainly a nervy affair in the first match and I think that stemmed from a lack of players with cup final experience in our side. Steve Perryman had played in the UEFA Cup Final and in League Cup Finals before and Ossie Ardiles obviously played in the big one, the World Cup Final, but other than that we didn’t have players used to that kind of occasion.”
In the replay, Ricky Villa famously grabbed the winner for us with a strike that was voted Wembley Stadium’s ‘Goal of the Century’ back in 2001. “I had a good view of Ricky’s goal as it was unfolding,” added Chris. “You get the clever people who say they could see what was going to happen in terms of his run resulting in the goal. But I think I was like the majority that watched and as his run carried on, you were just thinking ‘go on’ as he skipped another challenge. Eventually, he did what you thought he probably wouldn’t do at the start of that run… tucking the ball into the back of the net!”
Chris made 60 appearances for us in all competitions in 1981-82, as we played a staggering 65 games in total that campaign, reaching the final of the League Cup, the FA Cup and the semi-final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup. Thankfully, there was silverware at the end of a long, hard season as we won the FA Cup once again – beating Queens Park Rangers 1-0 in the Final replay of March 27, 1982.
“Nothing will top the feeling of getting my first FA Cup winner’s medal, but collecting another 12 months later came very close,” says Chris, who went on to play for West Ham United and Brentford and won 53 caps for the Republic between 1979 and 1991 before returning to Spurs to work as a coach between 1993 and 2007. “I think everyone in that team appreciated at the time that some top players never get the chance to win the FA Cup, indeed they never get to win a trophy at all, so we were very fortunate to be able to do it twice in the space of a year.”
Since moving into management, Chris has had spells in charge of Newcastle United, Birmingham City and Norwich City before taking over at Wednesday night’s opponents, Brighton, in December 2014. He has won promotion from the Championship twice – as winners with Newcastle in 2010 and then as runners-up with the Seagulls at the end of last term.
His side lost 2-0 at Huddersfield Town last time out but Chris will be hoping for better fortunes against us on Wednesday. “I always looked forward to going to Tottenham to watch matches and it has been a proud moment for me on each occasion that I’ve faced a match against them as either a coach or a manager,” he said.
“It’ll be fantastic bringing Brighton to Wembley to face Spurs. In a way, this game is like a double bonus, to be playing against Tottenham and for it to be at Wembley. Of course, sentiment goes out of the window and it’ll be all about getting a result for Brighton & Hove Albion.”
Read more from Chris in our ‘Wembley Memories’ feature in Wednesday night's official matchday programme – on sale from various points around the national stadium for £3.50.