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Danny Blanchflower

Robert Dennis "Danny" Blanchflower (b. February 10, 1926, Belfast - d. December 9, 1993) was a footballer, football manager, and journalist who captained Spurs during their double-winning season of 1961. He is remembered as one of the great tacticians in the history the game, renowned for his passing, and as an outstanding right-half.

Early years

Blanchflower was born in the Bloomfield district of Belfast; his mother had played as a centre-forward on a women's football team. He was educated at Ravenscroft public elementary school and was awarded a scholarship to Belfast College of Technology.

He left early to become an apprentice electrician at the Gallachers' cigarette factory. He also joined the air-raid precautions (ARP) and in 1943 lied about his age in order to join the RAF. As a trainee navigator he was sent on a course to St Andrews University (where he acquired a lifelong love of golf) and in the spring of 1945 was posted to Canada for further training. By 1946 he was back in Belfast, back at Gallachers', and building a reputation as an outstanding footballer.

Playing career

He began his professional football career at the end of the Second World War when he was signed by Belfast side Glentoran. In 1949, Barnsley F.C. paid ú6,000 to transfer him to England, and two years later Aston Villa bought him for ú15,000. He played 155 times for Villa, captaining the side on many occasions.

Danny Blanchflower
Personal information
Full name Robert Dennis Blanchflower
Date of birth February 10, 1926
Place of birth    Belfast, Northern Ireland
Date of death    December 9, 1993 (aged 67)
Place of death    London, England
Playing position Midfielder
Youth clubs
19??-1949 Glentoran
Senior clubs1
Years Club App (Gls)*
1949-1951
1951-1954
1954-1964
Barnsley
Aston Villa
Tottenham Hotspur
0? (?)
155 (81)
0337 (15)   
National team
1949-1963 Northern Ireland 56 (2)
Teams managed
1976-1979
1978-1979
Northern Ireland
Chelsea
1 Senior club appearances and goals
counted for the domestic league only.
* Appearances (Goals)

He grew disenchanted with the club and the way training was conducted, becoming one of the first to propose that players should train with a ball as opposed to merely undertaking physical exercise. In 1954 he was bought by Spurs for the huge fee of ú30,000, and during his ten years at White Hart Lane he made 337 league appearances.

The highlight of his time at Spurs came with the 1960-61 season. With Blanchflower as captain Spurs won their first 11 games, still a record for the top flight of English football and eventually ran out as league champions by 8 points. They then beat Leicester City in the final of the FA Cup to become the first team in the 20th century to win the league and cup double not achieved since Aston Villa in 1897.

In 1962 he again captained Spurs to victory in the FA Cup, only narrowly missing out on a second double when they finished a close third in the league behind Ipswich Town and Burnley, and in 1963 he captained his side to victory over AtlÚtico Madrid in the final of the European Cup Winners' Cup.

Between 1949 and 1963, he earned 56 caps for Northern Ireland, often playing alongside his brother Jackie, and in 1958 captained his country when they reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

Career as manager

After retiring as a player in April 1964, he withdrew from football for several years, returning briefly as manager of Northern Ireland in 1978, and as manager of Chelsea in 1978-1979, where he won just 5 out of 32 games as the club plunged towards relegation. He eventually left the job less than a year after his appointment, in September 1979.

Off the field

He was one of only a handful of players to have been awarded the title of English Footballer of the Year on two occasions, winning in both 1958 and 1961. On February 6, 1961, he also became the first person to turn down the invitation to appear on This Is Your Life, simply walking away from host Eamonn Andrews live on air. "I consider this programme to be an invasion of privacy", he explained. "Nobody is going to press gang me into anything."

In the later years of his life, he suffered from Alzheimer's Disease, and died at his home in December 1993 aged 67. In 2003 Blanchflower was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of his talents.

Quotations

  • "Everything in our favour was against us."
  • "The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom."
  • "George (George Best) makes a greater appeal to the senses than [Tom] Finney or [Stanley] Matthews did, his movements are quicker, lighter, more balletic. George offers grander surprises to the mind and the eye. He has ice in his veins, warmth in his heart, and timing and balance in his feet"
  • "[Glenn] Hoddle? No, it's the bad players who are a luxury."
  • "If we've got the ball, they can't score."
  • "We aim to equalise before the other team score. We should get our retaliation in first."
  • "If we (Northern Ireland) don't know what we're going to do, how can the other side?"
  • "Winning isn't everything, but wanting to win is."
  • "Ideas are very funny things. They never work unless you do."
  • Spurs' Club Director: "The trouble with you is that you think you know all the answers." Blanchflower: "Ah, God love you, you don't even know the questions!"
  • "Pass the hot milk!" Weetabix Advert, about 1960.
Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year
1958
Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year
1961
Chelsea F.C. Manager
1978-1979
Northern Ireland manager
1976 - 1979

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