'The FA would be silly not to offer Harry the job,' says Colin Clarke

Redknapp's first buy insists the manager has the right stuff for England

It was the first important signing of Harry Redknapp's three decades in management and making a profit of almost 2,500 per cent after only a year convinced him that he had an eye for a footballer. Nearly 30 years later, the player in question believes the Football Association would be foolish not to make Redknapp the next manager of England.

Colin Clarke was the name, a stocky blond centre-forward from Newry, Northern Ireland who was knocking in goals for Tranmere Rovers in the Fourth Division when in 1985 Redknapp decided he was the man for Bournemouth. The young manager's conviction was so strong that he was prepared to put together a syndicate to fund the modest £20,000 fee, contributing a quarter himself. Impressed by this show of faith – or perhaps concerned by Redknapp's plan that the consortium would then take the profit from any subsequent transfer – the club's board scraped the money together and Clarke rewarded them with more than 30 goals in the season.

The move might still have fallen through, Clarke recalled last week, had he not developed an immediate bond with Redknapp. Speaking from North Carolina, where he now coaches Carolina Railhawks in the North American Soccer League, he said: "We agreed a deal but hadn't signed the contract. Then Chelsea came in and wanted me to go there. I assume it would have meant more money but I'd agreed to go to Bournemouth and so I did."

Clarke's prolific season won him a first Northern Ireland cap and then a place at the 1986 World Cup, where he played in every game, attracting the attention of bigger clubs. Southampton took him into the top division, giving Bournemouth £480,000 profit in under 12 months. For Redknapp it was confirmation, he later said, "that I had a future in this management game." The following season he led Bournemouth to the third division title.

"Harry was great and is still a friend today, who I speak to from time to time," Clarke said. "He would be magnificent for England, and the FA would be silly not to offer him the job. The public want it, everybody wants it and to have any chance at the European Championship they've got to get him in there. I think he'd bring in a few younger players too to shake it up a bit. There are too many championships where England have underachieved and this is one where they could go in with a real chance of winning it."

If Redknapp, whose Spurs team go to Stevenage in the FA Cup today, has matured and developed, some of his qualities were apparent in those earliest days, Clarke says: "He's a players' coach and gets the best out of them. They want to play for him. It was early days at Bournemouth but it was evident then and at all the other clubs he's been to. Look at the number of players he's had who want to come back and play for him again."

When he first went to the United States 15 years ago, Clarke was not able to watch much English football at all. Now, he says, "we're swamped with it", enabling him to keep up with former clubs like Southampton and Queens Park Rangers. He has coached four clubs in the NASL, one grade below Major League Soccer, and of a standard he describes as comparable to the bottom half of the Championship. "The standard of MLS has been growing in the last 10 years and that trickles down. Six or seven years ago, Premier League teams would come here in pre-season and beat MLS clubs, but now they can get beaten, and even lose to teams in our league."

Clarke, now 49, only switched to Carolina before Christmas, after three years at Puerto Rico. The highlight of his time there was winning 4-1 away to LA Galaxy in the continent's equivalent of the Champions' League. David Beckham was injured at the time but Clarke credits him with a significant role in the development of the sport in the United States: "He can be very happy with what he's done and the profile he's given the game. And even at his age he's still in demand."

As is one Harry Redknapp, 27 years after being prepared to put his own money where his mouth was in commending the merits of a fourth division footballer.

Stevenage v Tottenham Hotspur is on ITV1 today, kick-off 2pm

Laid-back Harry deflects aggro

"Aggro" it may be, as he termed it a couple of weeks back, but the England manager's job remains the peak of the profession for any native coach, and Harry Redknapp says he is experienced enough to take the rough that would come his way sooner or later with the smooth.

Although occasionally tetchy and sarcastic when criticised, he claimed on Friday to be immune to changes in public perception that beset national team managers. "We all know what football's like, it can change so quickly," he said. "A few bad weeks and you go crash just as quick as you get put on a pedestal. But I don't get carried away, I never have done. I'm pretty laid-back about it all."

Steve Tongue

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game