Danny Thomas: “I went from wanting the world to swallow me up, to euphoria”
Sat 23 May 2020, 13:11|Tottenham Hotspur
Graham Roberts equalised late and lifted the trophy. Tony Parks made two saves in the penalty shoot-out and, ultimately, secured victory. Yet the UEFA Cup Final of 1984, that night of all nights, is also remembered for a moment of despair before the jubilation of 46,428 packed into the Lane and Spurs fans watching around the world.
Danny Thomas. Yes, Danny Thomas, taking that walk from the half-way line in the shoot-out with a chance to win it, 4-3 up, final Spurs penalty.
What happened next is now part of Spurs folklore. Danny struck the penalty well but Anderlecht goalkeeper Jacky Munaron guessed the right way - to his right - and saved. One strike from winning the UEFA Cup, we were now level again. Head in his hands, Danny trudged back to the halfway line to a chorus of ‘there’s only one Danny Thomas’, and the fans can be heard belting it out as Arnor Gudjohnsen steps up... ‘Parksy’ saves and the celebrations begin.
It’s a moment often highlighted by Steve Perryman when he speaks about Spurs fans.
“Danny Thomas missed his penalty and the supporters clapped him all the way back to the half-way line. What a moment. Maybe I noticed that more because I wasn’t involved in the action, as such. The feeling from the crowd to the pitch just typified how it is. I’m sure anyone else taking a penalty after that was more at ease.”
Micky Hazard - next up to take a penalty that night - added: “The fans in the stadium won us the cup that night. When Danny missed, everyone was deflated but the fans sang ‘one Danny Thomas’ from the penalty spot all the way back to the halfway line, as the opposition were taking their last penalty. I’m sure that inspired Tony Parks to make the save. They are the 12th man and when they are at their best, they are incredible.”
What about Danny? Now 58 and a physiotherapist in Florida, we caught up with our former full-back in March to ask about his memories from that night 36 years ago...
“First of all, what a great occasion for the club,” said Danny, who played 110 times for us before his career was cruelly ended by injury aged just 26. “It’s not often you get to play a cup final on your home ground, but the UEFA Cup Final allowed you to do that.
“The first leg in Belgium (1-1) was very tight. If I’m being honest, I thought we were the better side in Anderlecht, but they were the better side at our place.
“It was so emotionally charged out there. We were expected to win, we went behind, they played really well, and you needed big characters. None were bigger than Graham Roberts that night in barging his way through everyone to score the equaliser.
“We got to full-time, extra-time and then we had to take penalties. I wasn’t down to be one of the five penalty takers. We had five earmarked, but my good friend, Micky Hazard, couldn’t even walk, let alone take a penalty!
“The reaction from the fans when the penalty was saved – and I always say ‘saved’, as it was saved – was sensational. My first thoughts were ‘open the ground and swallow me up’. That goes through your mind. It's the worst feeling in the world as a sportsman. Thankfully, my agony was relieved in a short space of time. The fans’ reaction was magnificent, it really was. I can’t thank them enough for what they did that night.
“I’m sure that give Parksy a bit of a boost and he flung himself across the goal, then we’ve got the cup! In a short space of time, I’ve gone from feeling like I want the world to swallow me up, to euphoria. It was the most surreal experience ever! What a superb night, I’ll never forget it.”