Football: Blanchflower dies, aged 67: 'He was one of the last great soccer romantics'

DANNY BLANCHFLOWER, one of football's all-time greats and captain of Tottenham's 1961 Double-winning team, died yesterday at the age of 67 after suffering from Alzheimer's Disease.

The famous Spur passed away in a nursing home in Cobham, Surrey, after slipping into a coma two days ago. 'Perhaps it is a blessing in disguise,' said his brother, Jackie, a survivor of the Munich air disaster.

'He should be remembered for his sportsmanship, something that is not too prevalent in the game today. Yes, he was one of the last great soccer romantics.'

An intelligent, inspirational player, Blanchflower and his fellow Hotspurs were responsible for paving the way for the success of British clubs abroad when they carried off the European Cup-Winners' Cup in 1963.

He collected just about every prize the domestic game had to offer in his time, including two Footballer of the Year awards in 1958 and 1961, but it was long before the advent of superstar salaries. Three years ago it was claimed he was living on the interest earned by his savings - about pounds 20 a week - and a benefit match was organised by Tottenham on his behalf. He suffered also from arthritis which he claimed was the result of players stamping on his feet.

A private, principled man, he will be remembered by those outside the game for the time he rebuffed a lurking Eamon Andrews, attempting to spring a This is Your Life programme upon him, with the memorable retort, 'not on your life'.

Many of those unable to honour him then, finally did so last night. Bill Nicholson, his manager during the great years of the Double team, was deeply saddened. 'He was one of our best players and a very, very good captain. He was very stylish, and although he had a reputation of not being quick, he had very good anticipation and intelligence which made up for it.'

Billy Bingham, a fellow team-mate of the 1958 Irish World Cup side, had kept in close contact with Blanchflower and helped to organise the Spurs' benefit.

'Let's remember him at his sparkling best - off the pitch with his wit and great skills as a raconteur, a pleasure to be with; and on the pitch with his elegant passing and great leadership qualities.

'I can never remember him beng booked, he never retaliated, he never argued, though he could tackle well.

'He was a great leader, so charismatic, an all-round personality. When he retired he became a journalist, writing with his own individual stamp. He could be controversial, often quite mischievously.'

He was a man to whom even the revered themselves looked up to, like Bobby Charlton, whose career overlapped the tail-end of Blanchflower's. 'You always felt he had something over you with his knowledge of the game.'

Billy Drennan, the Irish FA secretary from 1950-1984, knew Blanchflower as a player and, for a short period during the 1970s, as a manager of the Northern Ireland team. 'He had that wonderful motivational quality just like Peter Doherty, our first manager whom he so admired. He was a man of principle, dignity and loyalty.'

For Cliff Jones, one of those original super Spurs, he was a captain who was never afraid to try something different. 'Always play with a smile on your face,' he would tell you. 'It's a beautiful game.'

----------------------------------------------------------------- THE BLANCHFLOWER FACT FILE ----------------------------------------------------------------- 10 February 1926: Born in Belfast. 1945-46: Began career, at Glentoran. April 1949: Joined Barnsley for pounds 4,000 (68 appearances, 2 goals). March 1951: Aston Villa, pounds 15,000 (148, 10). December 1954: Joined Tottenham Hotpsur pounds 30,000 (382, 21). 1958: Footballer of the Year. 1961: Captained Spurs to Double. Voted Footballer of the Year for second time. 1962: Led Spurs to FA Cup again. 1963: Captain again as Spurs became first British club to lift European trophy (Cup- Winners' Cup). 1964: Retired, having won 56 caps for Northern Ireland. June 1976: Manager of Northern Ireland. Quit November 1979 (Six wins in 24 games). December 1978: Manager of Chelsea. Resigned September 1979. -----------------------------------------------------------------

Ken Jones, page 39

Obituary, page 16

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before