“Whether you’re a player, manager, trainer, director, supporter, reporter, kit man or tea lady, football possesses the power to make the week ahead sparkle with a sense of joyous well-being.” Danny Blanchflower
Robert Denis ” Danny ” Blanchflower was born in Belfast on the 10th of Feb 1929. Football was popular in Danny’s household with his mother having played for the local Women’s team and his brother having also been a professional footballer with Man United who’s career was tragically cut short due to injuries sustained in the 1958 Munich air disaster.
Aswell as being athletically gifted Danny was extremely intelligent and was given a scholarship to attend Belfast College , however he decided to leave school early to work in a cigarette factory where he would work until 1943 at which time he lied about his age to join the RAF and was stationed in Canada.
On his return to Belfast in 1946 he would join local side Glentoran and his talent would soon become evident. In 1949 a 23 year old Danny would cross the Irish Sea to sign for Barnsley in a £ 6,000 deal. It was not long before Danny was starting to earn rave reviews and Aston Villa snapped him up for for £15,000 in 1951. Danny would continue his good form at Villa , although his elegant playing style was at odds with Villa’s more physical approach.
In 1954 Spurs would pay £30,000 to Villa for Blanchflower , which would turn out to be one the greatest pieces of business in Spurs history. Danny would soon become an integral part of Spurs midfield from his right half position and although Spurs would struggle in the league for his first few seasons he soon became a crowd favourite.
1958 would be an eventful year , as Spurs Legend Bill Nicholson was appointed the clubs new manager , Danny would lead Northern Ireland to the quarter final of the World Cup and he would be voted FWA Player of the Year in recognition of his outstanding displays throughout the season.
By the 1960/61 season Danny was Spurs captain and would lead his club to their greatest ever season. Spurs would fly out of the traps winning their first 11 games , eventually finishing top of the league by 8 points before beating Leicester at Wembley in the FA Cup final to win a historic League and Cup double. This was a massive story at the time as it was the first time the double had been won since Aston Villa had done so in 1897.
Success would continue to flow in 1962 when Spurs again won the FA Cup beating Burnley in the final with Danny netting a penalty. Danny would again be voted the FWA Player of the Year that season to become one of only a handful of players to have won the accolade twice. Then in 1963 Danny would lead Spurs to victory over Atletico Madrid to become the first ever English side to win a European Cup.
The side of this era is considered Spurs greatest ever team and one of England greatest for that matter. Spurs did not just win things they won them in style playing some scintillating football along the way. Danny was the elegant playmaker who dictated the tempo of the game in a side that contained many Spurs Legends like Dave Mackay , Cliff Jones , Bobby Smith , Jimmy Greaves and many more. Blanchflower was a superb captain and lead his side through word and deed. His sharpness of tongue was just as feared as the snap of his tackle which anybody who crossed him will attest to , below are a couple of our favourite quotes of his :
- Spurs 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.”
- Interviewer: “Well Danny, what is the secret to the Spurs winning every match so far this season?”
- Blanchflower: “Most probably because in each match we have scored more goals than our opponents.”
- Duchess of Kent (at 1961 FA Cup Final): “Why do the other team have their names on their tracksuits and yours’ don’t?”
Blanchflower: “Ah well, ma’am, you see we all know each other.”
Danny would retire in 1964 at the age of 38 having made 337 appearances for Spurs scoring 15 goals. Danny remained with Spurs after his retirement and took up a coaching role , with most observers expecting him to take over the reins from Legendary boss Bill Nicholson. Blanchflower left Spurs in 1974 after surprisingly being looked over for the manager job in favour of Ex Arsenal player Terry Neill.
After leaving Spurs Danny had brief and not very successful managerial jobs with Northern Ireland and Chelsea. he would become a journalist with the Sunday express and had several other media jobs , never being too far away from controversy such was his outspoken nature. Danny is also famous for being the first person to turn down the opportunity to be on ” This is your life ” simply walking away from host Eamonn Andrews live on air , ” I consider this program to be an invasion of privacy ” he said , ” nobody is going to press gang me into anything .”
Spurs held a testimonial in 1990 as a mark of respect for their captain fantastic but sadly Danny was already suffering from Alzheimers disease and Parkinsons disease and would pass away in 1993. He was without doubt not only one of Spurs greatest ever players he was also one of their most memorable personalities , a true Spurs Legend in every sense of the word. With that we’ll leave you with a few of the great mans most famous quotes.
“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.”
“Football is a simple game made complicated by people who should know better.”
“Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.”
“We aim to equalise before the other team score. We should get our retaliation in first.”
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