The Tottenham 10: Counting Down the Greatest Spurs Players Of All Time
A person who has great influence over another. A person with extraordinary intellectual and creative power. Someone with a strong natural talent or aptitude.
There are many meanings of the word "genius," which generally makes the buggers difficult to identify.
This is especially true in the hackneyed world of football punditry and the glorified nostalgia of footballing folklore. Like the term "hero," it is a word which is rarely used appropriately. Most players are incapable of ever being or becoming geniuses. Some have the innate ability but simply the lack the desire, focus, or mentality.
Tottenham Hotspur is a successful club which has competed in the top division of English football for the majority of its 128-year history. Along the way, it has collected numerous prestigious awards, including the European Cup, F.A. Cup, and the Division One title.
These successes over that period of time have been driven off the pitch by the passion of thousands of fans, the minds of scores of managers and the pockets of numerous chairmen.
Most of all, it has been achieved on the pitch by dozens of excellent and important footballers. So how can you possibly choose the 10 greatest footballers to have ever pulled on a crisp white Tottenham Hotspur shirt?
In this slideshow, I attempt to pick out 10 such players who, more than any others, are notable for their passion for the club, the individual talent which they have displayed, and the success they have brought the club as part of a winning team.
No. 10: Bobby Smith, Star Striker of the Sixties
With 208 goals in 317 appearances for Spurs and 13 in 15 matches for England, Bobby Smith was a strong forward with an impressive eye for goal who formed a formidable partnership with Jimmy Greaves toward the end of his career.
The player, who has the distinctive record of being the second-top goalscorer for his club, also scored a goal in both the 1961 and 1962 F.A. Cup Finals to hand Spurs victories over Leicester City and Burnley.
No. 9: Ted Ditchburn, Title-Winning Goalkeeper in the Post-War Era
Ted Ditchburn was the first in a long line of great Tottenham goalkeepers between the Second World War and the Premier League era.
He was an ever-present figure in the teams which won promotion during the 1949-50 season and then the Division One title the following year, making an incredible 247 consecutive appearances for the Lillywhites.
A remarkable man who made 452 club appearances in total, with a proud goalkeeping record and commendable loyalty to the club in a successful period.
No. 8: Gary Lineker, F.A. Cup Glory for Three Lions Predator
Currently the presenter of BBC's Match of the Day, Gary Lineker was a lethal striker for club and country for a decade.
In 138 appearances for Spurs, Lineker grabbed 80 goals—none of which were more important than the two he scored in the 1991 F.A. Cup semifinal win over archrivals Arsenal on the way to Wembley glory.
Lineker also scored 48 goals in 80 games and impressed in a brief spell with European giants Barcelona. He is undoubtedly Tottenham's best forward of the modern day.
No. 7: Steve Perryman, Mr. Tottenham Hotspur
A man mountain of a figure at White Hart Lane for nearly two decades, Steve Perryman made more than 1,000 appearances for the North London club in total.
He captained the team for more than a decade and won two F.A. Cups, European Cups and League titles. He also stayed on with the club when it was relegated from the top flight in 1977.
Versatile as a defensive midfielder, right back and centre back, Perryman did not receive the international recognition he deserved, which only served to make Tottenham fans cherish the legend even more.
No. 6: Cliff Jones, Tottenham's George Best
159 goals in 378 appearances is an impressive record which any Premier League striker, except perhaps Alan Shearer, would envy.
For a winger, it is a phenomenal achievement.
In this light, Cliff Jones is still the greatest wide player to have ever graced the White Hart Lane turf. Such was his clear quality on the ball and his physical attributes that Juventus made an unsuccessful £100,000 bid for the player in 1962, a very large sum of money in the context.
In his time at the club, the team won seven trophies, including four F.A. Cups.
No. 5: Pat Jennings, Tottenham's Rock for 13 Years
Not only did he sport a trendy bonnet and sideburns and resemble Clint Eastwood, Pat Jennings was also the greatest goalkeeper that Tottenham Hotspur has ever had.
During his 590 appearances for the club in the 1960s and 1970s, he won one U.E.F.A. Cup, one F.A. Cup and two League Cups and scored a memorable goal in the Charity Shield, which Spurs also won. He also represented his country Northern Ireland on 119 occasions.
Unfortunately, Tottenham offloaded to Arsenal, where he played for the last eight years of his career with similar authority, composure and confidence.
No. 4: Jimmy Greaves, Goal Machine for Club and Country
Two hundred and sixty-six goals in 379 appearances for Spurs; 44 goals in 57 games for England. Do these statistics prove that Jimmy Greaves is the greatest forward English football has ever produced?
When Bill Nicholson led Tottenham Hotspur to an historic League and Cup double in 1961, he bought Greaves from AC Milan for a then record price of £99,999, with both parties keen to avoid the pressure that comes with signing the world's first-ever six-figure player.
They need not have worried. Greaves somehow managed to improve a team which was already verging on perfect, but was ironically denied his greatest ever moment, when injury saw him miss the last few matches of the 1966 World Cup and allowed one Geoff Hurst to step up and score the most famous hat-trick ever in England to lead his nation to its only ever World Cup trophy.
No. 3: Danny Blanchflower, King of the Lane in the Sixties
Bought for a huge £30,000 fee in 1964, Danny Blanchflower excelled at Spurs for more a decade.
With Blanchflower as captain, Tottenham won their first 11 league games in 1960 and would eventually not only win the title by a huge eight points but also the F.A. Cup.
Tactically excellent and an inspirational captain, Blanchflower would eventually become a highly respectd if controversial football journalist until his death in 1993.
No. 2: Glenn Hoddle, Midfield Mastermind
The personification of genius on a football pitch, Glenn Hoddle scored numerous goals of sheer brilliance and outrageous skill (including those in the above compilation).
Perhaps his two most memorable goals were those scored at 1:40 (a sharp turn and deft lob) and 3:45 (a scything run through midfield and cheeky finish) in the video.
With 110 goals in 490 appearances for club, even an unsuccessful spell as Tottenham manager and a controversial exit as national team coach cannot taint the spellbinding memories older Tottenham fans will retain.
No. 1: Dave McKay, The Midfield General
During his nine years and 318 appearances for Tottenham Hotspur, Dave McKay made Roy Keane look like a shrinking violet with his brand of no nonsense, tough-tackling footballer.
Possibly controversial as my choice for Tottenham's greatest-ever footballer, McKay was nevertheless was the most important player in the most successful period of the club's long history. This justifies this choice.
McKay was instrumental at White Hart Lane as both a preventer and an enforcer, equally adept with the ball as monumental off the ball. He picked up two broken legs but also seven medals for his tireless efforts at the heart of a Tottenham side known for its flowing one-touch football.
10 Honourable Mentions / Future Stars
Osvaldo Ardiles (1978-1988), 221 appearances, 16 goals
Paul Gascoigne (1988-1992), 112 appearances, 33 goals
Gary Mabbutt (1982-1998), 482 appearances, 37 goals
Martin Peters (1970-75), 186 appearances, 49 goals
Chris Waddle (1985-89), 138 appearances, 33 goals
Gareth Bale (2007-present), 52 appearances, 7 goals
Jermain Defoe (2004-2008; 2009-present), 183 appearances, 63 goals
Tom Huddlestone (2005-present), 113 appearances, 6 goals
Robbie Keane (2002-2008; 2009-present), 233 appearances, 91 goals
Ledley King (1998-present), 244 appearances, 10 goals