Glenn Hoddle, widely regarded as the finest post-war Spurs player, joined the club as a schoolboy apprentice in April 1974 following the recommendation of another Tottenham legend, Martin Chivers.
He successfully overcame knee problems in his early teens and collected England Youth caps prior to making his first-team debut as a 17 year old substitute against Norwich City in August 1975. Spurs drew 2-2.
Hoddle was forced to wait until February 1976 to start a First Division match and immediately announced his arrival with a spectacular strike past Stoke City and England goalkeeper Peter Shilton. [ar][/ar]
The talented playmaker flourished under the management of Keith Burkinshaw and despite the club's relegation to the Second Division in 1976/77 after 27 seasons of First Division football, a Hoddle inspired Spurs side won promotion to the top flight at the first attempt. As Tottenham's transitional phase continued, Hoddle's enigmatic and often controversial international career began in December 1976 against Wales in an Under-21 fixture. He would collect another seven caps at that level and play twice for the England 'B' team prior to scoring on his full international debut against Bulgaria in November 1979.
The 1979/80 campaign heralded the emergence of Hoddle as a top-class player, the 22 year old midfielder scored 19 goals in 41 league appearances and was deservedly awarded the PFA Young Player of the Year award at the end of the season.
[al][/al]Critics of Hoddle questioned his stamina and willingness to defend but his natural attacking skills were simply breathtaking and often at odds with the ingrained British football philosophy of tireless running and a strong work ethic. His sublime balance and close control, unrivalled passing and vision and extraordinary shooting ability, both from open play and set pieces, made Hoddle the most gifted English player of his generation.
In 1981, he starred as Spurs won the FA Cup for the sixth time, defeating Manchester City in a memorable replay and the following season Tottenham retained the FA Cup (Hoddle scored in both the Final and Final replay) and finished the League campaign in fourth place, the club's best league position since 1971.
Hoddle performed as the midfield fulcrum in many of these successes and also contributed magnificently as the team reached the final of the League Cup, losing 3-1 to Liverpool, and the semi-final stage of the European Cup Winners Cup. During the summer of 1982, Hoddle played in two of England's matches in the opening group phase of the FIFA World Cup, starting against Kuwait after a substitute appearance in a 2-0 victory over Czechoslovakia.
Unfortunately for Tottenham Hotspur and their star player, Hoddle's involvement in the following three seasons was limited by a number of niggling injury problems (he started only 76 of a possible 126 league matches) but nevertheless, Hoddle proved to be the architect behind the team's 1984 UEFA Cup triumph despite missing the Final due to fitness concerns. In October 1983, he dazzled the White Hart Lane crowd with a phenomenal second-round display as Spurs won 6-2 on aggregate against a Feyenoord Rotterdam side containing the legendary Johan Cruyff. Such was the quality of his perfomance in both matches, the Dutch legend entered the Tottenham dressing room and offered Hoddle his shirt as a sign of respect. [ar][/ar]
Spurs came close to further honours in the next three seasons, reaching third place in the First Division and the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup in 1984/85 and another FA Cup Final in 1987, losing 3-2 to Coventry City, the only time the North London club has experienced defeat in the final of the famous knock-out competition.
The unexpected loss to the Midlands side was Hoddle's last match for Spurs as newly-appointed AS Monaco manager Arsene Wenger brought him to the principality for a fee of £750,000. Between 1975 and 1987, the gifted playmaker scored 110 goals in 490 first-team matches in all competitions, only four players (Steve Perryman, Pat Jennings, Gary Mabbutt and Cyril Knowles) have made more appearances in a Spurs shirt. At international level, Hoddle won 44 caps for England during his Tottenham career, an inadequate return for such a skilful and charismatic footballer.
A video of Glenn Hoddle goals can be viewed here :bowdown:
One of the greatest ever players to play for Spurs, I remember watching him score that volley against Man Utd (See video clip) from the shelf and what sticks in my mind was the buzz going around the ground as the game restarted. His best ever goal? My vote goes to the Watford turn and chip (Again see video clip) but there were just so many to choose from.
What would he be worth today?