As the title race hots up to melting point the Cutter begins a four-part series selecting the greatest ever elevens from each contender.
We start at the Lane where the exclusions of Gazza, Ardiles and Waddle are sure to provoke ire from many. Then there’s Modric and Bale neither of whom even make the bench. From a club renowned for producing such an abundance of midfield greats and craftsmen you try fitting them all in. We tried. We failed.
GK – Pat Jennings
Though the quietly-spoken Northern Irishman faced strong competition from Ted Ditchburn and Ray Clemance between the sticks it simply had to be Big Pat. Notching up over a thousand top level appearances he was a genuine North London legend playing thirteen seasons with Spurs before heading down the Seven Sisters Road to Arsenal for a further eight. Famously used to use any part of his body to make a block – knee, ankle, elbow – because it wasn’t about posing with Pat, it was about doing his job.
RB – Steve Perryman
A versatile ever-present who captained the club for over a decade Perryman was usually employed centrally but in typically unselfish fashion wilfully moves over here to accommodate others. If you omit Steve Perryman from an all-time Spurs XI you may as well pack up and go home with the accomplished stopper making a club record 857 appearances for his beloved lilywhites lifting a clutch of silverware in the process.
LB – Cyril Knowles
As the famous Double side of ‘61 was broken up youngsters such as Knowles and Joe Kinnear were brought in to retain the exceptionally high standards. Some inevitably failed to fill the huge vacant boots of the departing legends. Not so the two mentioned, Knowles in particular going to on to establish himself as Spurs’ left-back for well over a decade. Nice one.
CB – Gary Mabbutt
Gazza called him ‘Mr Tottenham’ and for once the daft-as-a-brush Geordie wasn’t joking. Mabbutt overcame type 1 diabetes to turn out at the Lane on nearly 500 occasions, most of them as captain, all of them emitting a calmness that spread to his team-mates. Solid, ever-reliable and one of the nicest guys around Mabbutt lifted the 1984 UEFA Cup and 1991 FA Cup for a side he will always be indelibly associated with.
CB – Ledley King
Despite chronic knee problems that deprived his club and country of several more years of distinguished service the aptly-named King still reigned at the Lane on 268 occasions, each performance a masterclass of Rolls Royce defending.
Ledley made untold sacrifices for a club he adored and was arguably England’s finest centre-back since Bobby Moore. Yeah we went there.
CM – Glenn Hoddle
His ill-considered foray into the pop charts and doomed tenure as England manager cannot tarnish the undeniable fact that Hoddle was an out-and-out football genius. Silky flair, sublime vision and the outrageous talent to capitalise upon it, even in such vaulted company Hoddle is the maestro of this team.
CM – Danny Blanchflower
A cultured right-half years ahead of his time Danny captained the ’61 side to glory and became known for his tactical nous that put him lightyears ahead of his peers. Was as single-minded off the pitch as he was open on it, once walking away from Eamonn Andrews after being surprised with a This Is Your Life honour declaring ‘I consider this programme to be an invasion of privacy. Nobody is going to press gang me into anything’. Nobody ever did. Blanchflower was an elegant colossus of a player and an elegant colossus of a man.
CM – Dave Mackay
So far we have four Spurs captains as respected for their leadership skills as their immense talent. Yet there’s no question the fiery Scot Mackay is the governor of this side. Hard as nails, ferociously tough in the tackle but blessed with extraordinary talent in a side renowned for their one-touch football Mackay was considered the greatest Tottenham player of all time by no less a judge than Brian Clough.
LW – Cliff Jones
Quite simply one of the most outstanding left wingers the world has ever seen and it’s little wonder that Ryan Giggs so often underperformed for his country – he was probably acutely aware he’d always come second best in the history annals to this Welsh wizard. An integral part of the great ’61 side football evidently runs in Cliff’s genes; his father, four uncles, brother, and cousin were all professional footballers while his grandson Scott Neilson recently plied his trade at Grimsby Town.
RW – David Ginola
Switched to the right because he’s worth it. With his leonine hair flowing in the capital’s breeze Daveed brought a whole new level of majestic flair to the British top flight the likes of which we’d never before witnessed. For all his dribbling and 25-yard curled beauties it was for his immaculate control that astounded the most. He could kill a ball stone-dead, from any distance or angle, the ball – like a million housewives – completely under his spell.
CF – Jimmy Greaves
Such is the abundance of midfield talent Spurs have produced over the years that we are reduced to playing just the one man up front. No matter because the man in question was a goal machine. Brought back home from AC Milan for a club record £99,999 Greavsie went on to rattle home 220 from 321. If the world was just he would have started the ’66 final and consequently grabbed the hat-trick. Arise Sir Jimmy.
Ditchburn, England, Ardiles, Gascoigne, Bale, Gilzean, Lineker