Glenn Hoddle's 10 Greatest Tottenham Hotspur Moments

Thomas CooperFeatured ColumnistAugust 23, 2014

Glenn Hoddle's 10 Greatest Tottenham Hotspur Moments

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    It has been 11 years since Glenn Hoddle was last at White Hart Lane in a coaching capacity. This weekend, the former Tottenham Hotspur player and manager returns with Queens Park Rangers.

    PHOTO: #QPR manager Harry Redknapp and new First Team coach Glenn Hoddle at Harlington earlier today

    — QPR FC (@QPRFC) August 12, 2014

    As a television pundit—and indeed, more recently a Bleacher Report columnist too—Hoddle has not been far away from the football spotlight since leaving Wolverhampton Wanders in 2006. The return to top-level competition on fellow former Spurs boss Harry Redknapp's staff is not before time.

    For all the ups and downs of Hoddle's long career, he was one of the more influential figures in the English game for the preceding three decades.

    Certainly as a player, the best of those years were spent at Tottenham.

    "Whatever his perceived shortcomings as the the club's manager," wrote Ivan Ponting and Tom Morgan in their 2008 book, Tottenham Hotspur: Player by Player, "he will be feted as long as Spurs exist for his pure, untrammelled brilliance on the field of play."

    With Hoddle back at the Lane this weekend, this article celebrates the 10 greatest moments of his career with the north London club.

    The significance of the moment to the individual and the club are naturally the chief criteria behind each placing. Given the exquisiteness of so many of them, too, there is also due deference and recognition to some of Hoddle's greatest goals.

    Ultimately there is an element of this writer's personal opinion in deciding what goes where (which you may disagree with).

    We begin in 1976, with a teenage Hoddle giving Spurs supporters a great sign of what was to come.

10. Goal 1 of 110

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    By the time Hoddle left Tottenham for Monaco in 1987, he had scored 110 times for the club (he is currently 13th on the club's all-time top scorers list).

    The first of his 88 league goals came on February 21, 1976 in a 2-1 win away at Stoke City.

    "Hoddle made his League debut as a substitute in August 1975 [a 2-2 with Norwich City] but Terry Neill [the then manager] was still finding his feet at Spurs and was not going to risk giving an 18-year-old free rein," wrote Bob Goodwin in Tottenham Hotspur: The Complete Record (2011 edition).

    Six months later, Neill was evidently feeling more confident in Hoddle's ability to contribute and he handed the 18-year-old his first start.

    Jimmy Greenhoff gave Stoke the lead before John Duncan equalised, bundling in a Jimmy Neighbour cross. Then came Hoddle's moment.

    England goalkeeper Peter Shilton had just gotten back to his feet after a Martin Chivers challenge. The cleared ball found its way to Hoddle who proceeded to sweetly drive it back past the floundering Shilton and in at the far post.

    The boyhood Spurs fan had made his mark. It would not be the last time.

9. Hoddle Comes of Age in Division 2

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    Tottenham's mid-1970s decline reached its low point when they were relegated in 1976-77. Yet, despite the disappointment at dropping out of the top flight, the subsequent season in Division Two aided the north Londoners in the long run.

    Keith Burkinshaw was allowed time to figure things out with his team. The precocious, outstandingly talented Hoddle could continue his development a step or two out of the limelight.

    "That one season sojourn in the hustle and bustle of the Second Division probably did more to bring Hoddle on than several seasons in the First," wrote Goodwin in his 2008 Complete Record. "He learned there were times when he had to dig in and work before class would tell, and class was one thing Hoddle had in abundance."

    The midfield star would finish the season with 12 goals from 41 appearances (the joint most of his career), and undoubtedly better for his experience.

    Plenty of work would still be needed afterwards to secure their eventual promotion in third place, but arguably the highlight of the campaign for Hoddle and the team was October's 9-0 thrashing of Bristol Rovers.

    Described by Goodwin in the 1991 edition of his book as "immaculate," Hoddle was involved right from the off.

    It was his cross that Ian Moores headed down for Colin Lee to convert Spurs' opener. After Lee added a second, another Hoddle delivery from the right was met by a Peter Taylor glancing header.

    Balls forward from the playmaker helped Spurs to their sixth and eighth goals. He then sneaked in at the back post to convert Moores' cross and made it nine.

8. Return to Tottenham as Manager

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    "There was only one club I would have left Southampton for and that was Tottenham Hotspur Football Club."

    So said Glenn Hoddle in March 2001 in his unveiling press conference, here via BBC Sport.

    That did little to placate Rupert Lowe back then, with the Saints chairman and the club's fans understandably frustrated at seeing their manager leave the south coast. However, for football romantics and Tottenham supporters desperate for a return to their more successful past, Hoddle back at White Hart Lane just felt right.

    His predecessor George Graham had won the 1999 League Cup, but between his Arsenal past and the not always appealing on-field product he coached, Graham had never endeared himself to Spurs supporters.

    Hoddle ticked the box on two counts. He was a Tottenham boy and a coach who favoured an attacking style synonymous with the north London club's greatest days—of which he had played a part in many.

    It did not work out in the long run. But at that point, as he told his press conference—here via BBC Sport—Hoddle was just glad to be home:

    It's emotional and exciting. I've spent many years here and the supporters have given me a superb reception. 

    I walked through the gates of this club at age eight as a supporter and left when I was 29. That's a huge part of my life.

7-5.: Hoddle the Finisher

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    Hoddle's best performances were not always lit up by his greatest goals. The sheer quality of so many of his strikes deserve recognition in their own right, however.

    The following three demonstrated Hoddle's impressive range of finishing and are unsurprisingly among his most highly regarded.

    First up, from October 1979, the winner in a 1-0 victory at home to Nottingham Forest (on the 1:05 mark on the above video).

    Goalkeeper Milija Aleksic's big kick forward was headed by Gerry Armstrong into the area, where Chris Jones' side-flicked header fell perfectly for the on-running Hoddle to volley ferociously into the net.

    The next entry (3:21) comes from April 1987, a 3-1 win over Oxford United, and proved to be Hoddle's last Spurs goal.

    Coolly galloping forward from his own half, the midfielder opened his body ever so slightly towards two Oxford defenders, flummoxing them with a quick and subtle change of direction that set him through on goal without needing another touch.

    The United goalie Peter Hucker came forward but was just as easily bewitched by Hoddle's shot-fake, leaving him grounded as the Spurs man waltzed past and side-footed into the empty net.

    Quite likely Hoddle's most beautiful goal was the one he scored at Vicarage Road in September 1983 as Spurs beat Watford 3-2 (2:44).

    Hoddle took Garry Brooke's pass from the right wing, turned Jan Lohman with one touch and then hit the most exquisitely placed chip over the helpless Steve Sherwood into the far post.

    Genius. No doubt about it.

4. Spurs Thrash Chelsea 5-1 to Reach the League Cup Final

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    Darren Anderton described it in his autobiography Take Note! as "Spurs' finest performance in my time there."

    In his book, King, Ledley King remembered "one of those magical nights when everything goes right."

    Tottenham were 2-1 down from the first leg in their League Cup semi-final with Chelsea in January 2002. They had not beaten the Blues since 1990. For a win over their city rivals at White Hart Lane, you had to go back to 1987.

    That night, Hoddle's Spurs side went about breaking the hoodoo in spectacular fashion, winning 5-1 at home. "We got out of the blocks fast, and from the first minute to the last they couldn't live with us," King recalled.

    Steffen Iversen opened the scoring after just two minutes when he capitalised on a mistake by John Terry. Spurs took the aggregate lead just after the half-hour mark when Tim Sherwood converted an Anderton corner.

    Barely five minutes into the second half, Hoddle's men had a third when Teddy Sheringham struck a superb swerving volley after Anderton and Gus Poyet had combined to tee him up.

    Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's sending off soon after helped further, but Spurs were already on a roll. Simon Davies and Sergei Rebrov completed the scoring, Mikael Forssell netted an 89th-minute consolation goal.

    It was the undoubted high point of Hoddle's reign. His attacking style, designed to draw on the class and experience of players like Poyet and Sheringham, came to fruition in glorious style.

    Unfortunately, it would never quite be this good under Hoddle again. Blackburn Rovers beat Spurs in the League Cup final, Chelsea beat Spurs 4-0 twice that March.

    The remaining 18 months of Hoddle's management reign would have its moments but largely underwhelmed.

3. 2 in a Row for Spurs in the Cup

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    Neither the original match nor the replay of Tottenham's 1982 FA Cup final win over QPR will go down among the club's greatest performances.

    The exhausting season of near misses that preceded it, though—a League Cup final loss to Liverpool, a European Cup Winners' Cup semi-final exit at Barcelona's hands and a title challenge which ran out of steam late on—meant victory was all that mattered at Wembley.

    Spurs were battered by the 64 games they had already played by that point. Some players were on their last legs, while the Falklands conflict denied manager Burkinshaw the use of Argentinian pair Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa.

    The Spurs boss did still have Hoddle.

    The obstinate Hoops, managed by former Spur Terry Venables, resisted Spurs' pressure until extra-time saw Hoddle force the opener.

    A crunching tackle to dispossess Gary Waddock was followed by an exchange with Graham Roberts. Hoddle got it back and fired his shot into the bottom corner.

    He and his team-mates' relief was clear, but then future Spur Terry Fenwick headed the late equaliser.

    The replay five days later was just as hard going, even with Tottenham taking an early lead.

    Roberts was brought down in the box by Tony Currie. Up stepped Hoddle who duly converted. Spurs held on to win 1-0 and the FA Cup for a second year in a row.

    It was not the most glamorous of victories in Hoddle's career, but it was certainly among the most well-earned.

2. Getting the Better of Cruyff

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    Despite Johan Cruyff's best days being behind him in October 1983, the prospect of total football's most famous practitioner taking on one of European football's brightest young stars was a tantalising one. Not least for the Dutchman who decided he wanted to mark the pass-master Hoddle.

    As it was put in Martin Cloake and Adam Powley's The Glory Glory Nights, "Cruyff did not make too many mistakes in his glittering career, but he certainly made one at White Hart Lane" as his Feyenoord side took on Tottenham in the UEFA Cup second round, first leg.

    "If Hoddle ever produced 45 minutes' football that was better than that night then I wasn't there to see it, and I saw every game Glenn played including his internationals," recalled long-time Spurs coach and later manager, Peter Shreeve, in The Boys From White Hart Lane (also by Cloake and Powley).

    Hoddle was involved in all four goals in Spurs' 4-2 first-leg win, all of them coming before half-time.

    The first saw him take a pass from Chris Hughton and then promptly lay one back into the path of the full-back's incisive run into the penalty box. Steve Archibald was on hand in the six-yard box to tuck away Hughton's cross.

    For the second, a one-two with Archibald saw Hoddle freed on the right-hand side of the area. His searching centre was headed in by an unmarked Tony Galvin.

    Spurs went 3-0 up when Mark Falco received a firm pass to the edge of the box from his England international team-mate. The forward controlled and turned his marker. Though his shot was saved, Falco forced it on to Gary Mabbutt who squared for Archibald to tap it in.

    Spurs' fourth was arguably the best of the lot. Taking the ball from Hughton in left midfield, Hoddle looked up and again found Galvin, this time sneaking behind the Feyenoord defence.

    "It was like a matador's performance," Shreeve added, "he had that cape in that hand and he was more or less saying to Cruyff, 'Where are you? Where are you, son. You're nowhere near me'."

    Out in Rotterdam, Hoddle teed up Hughton's opener having set the move in motion. Spurs would win 2-0, progressing 6-2 on aggregate.

    Injury denied Hoddle the chance to play in their eventual final victory over Anderlecht, the last trophy Spurs would win under the departing Burkinshaw. He had more than played his part, though, in the process getting the better of one of football's greats.

    As Cruyff put it, via The Glory Glory Nights: "He was a player that I had liked, but it was only on the pitch that I realised how good he really was."

1. Spurs Soar Again

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    Shreeve had Feyenoord in '83 as Hoddle's greatest Tottenham game. For defender Paul Miller, it was the replay of the 1981 FA Cup final against Manchester City.

    As he recalled in The Boys From White Hart Lane:

    The day of the final we didn't play particularly well, but we hung on. We all determined that in the second game we weren't going to make the mistakes we'd made in the first.

    It was a great game, and Glenn Hoddle, arguably, played his best ever game for Spurs that night. Especially the last 20 minutes when he kept the ball on the right, he was absolutely magnificent.

    In the same book, captain Steve Perryman recounted a conversation with Burkinshaw saying the same too.

    Villa is rightly associated in the wider consciousness of the football public for his turnaround between the two games with City, the juxtaposition of his despondent look as he was substituted in the first game with his delight as he scored twice either side of Garth Crooks to seal a 3-2 win the following Thursday.

    As Miller notes, there were improvements all round in the second game.

    From the third round to the final, though, Hoddle was the brilliantly reliable figure who inspired Burkinshaw's side time and time again.

    At Wembley, despite City doing well to keep him quiet for most of the original contest, it was Hoddle whose free-kick brought Spurs level late in the game—albeit aided considerably by a deflection off Tommy Hutchison.

    He did not grab the headlines, but the Spurs midfielder played his part in his team taking their second chance too.

    Hoddle might have enjoyed more eye-catching moments individually, but the whole run to the cup in 1981 was an example of what he meant to the team. As Perryman put it about him in the aforementioned retrospective, "if he was right, we were right."

    Hoddle was right, and Tottenham were back among the silverware and the big names of English football for the first time in the best part of a decade.