Glenn Hoddle: The trouble with Glenn

Hubristic, indiscreet, cultist - or talented professional drawing strength from his faith? Sophie Goodchild and Julian Kossoff on the coach with the foot-in-mouth habit

Sophie Goodchild,Julian Kossoff
Saturday 22 October 2011 23:38

THE DUAL personae of Glenn Hoddle the evangelical Christian and Glenn Hoddle the England coach have become increasingly difficult to countenance for his detractors.

For some, the lacklustre performance of his players since the 1998 World Cup has been blamed on Hoddle allowing his personal beliefs to spill over into his professional life.

Indeed, Steve McManaman, the former England midfielder, has compared Hoddle's training camps to a "cult", accusing him of favouring those players who choose to embrace his beliefs.

The high priestess at the centre of his world is Eileen Drewery, a faith- healer and Berkshire housewife, who has exercised a formidable hold over him since he was a teenager.

The young footballer was introduced to Mrs Drewery by her daughter, Michelle, after he suffered a knee injury. Since that first meeting, the England coach has increasingly relied upon Mrs Drewery to bring him good luck. Despite her lack of sporting qualifications, he hired her as a consultant during the World Cup to cure the players of a range of physical and psychological ailments, a move that laid him open to ridicule.

Hoddle denies that any of the England team was forced to succumb to her influence though one Arsenal player who mocked her healing talents failed to make the squad. His comment "Short back and sides please" as she laid her hands on his head was not well received.

What bonds Hoddle and his mentor together is not a love of the beautiful game but a belief in the afterlife. Through her, he has progressed from mainstream Christianity to radical evangelism. Considered a loner and outsider by former colleagues, he refers to himself as a "spiritualist" with an individual connection with God. He confessed he spent time before every World Cup match in prayer.

Sir Cliff Richard has also been credited with helping him on the path to salvation. The pair were introduced in 1981 at a Christians in Sport dinner when Hoddle was 24 and experiencing "confusion" over his religion. A visit to Israel with the England team followed, where Hoddle found spiritual solace from sightseeing at Christ's birthplace.

God has certainly been on the side of his career so far. At Tottenham Hotspur, he is remembered as a talented and gifted player whose personal highlights included a key role in the FA Cup-winning side of 1981. After joining Monaco, he helped the team to the French league title in 1988.

As a manager, he steered Swindon to promotion from the First Division to the Premiership. This led to his appointment as manager at Chelsea and thence to the England coach's job in 1996.

However, his hubris and lack of discretion appear to have increased in proportion to his success. He was pilloried for publishing dressing room secrets in his book Glenn Hoddle: My 1998 World Cup Story.

His much-criticised diary included graphic detail of how Paul Gascoigne raged at being left out of the squad, as well as Hoddle's own contract renegotiation. Instead of apologising, Hoddle insisted that his World Cup revelations, from which he made pounds 200,000, had betrayed no one.

His saintly image also took a tarnishing over his divorce from his wife, Anne. Hoddle fiercely denied that he had been unfaithful and even released a statement through the FA to that effect. Yet his affair with another woman was cited in his wife's divorce petition. Previously regarded as the epitome of the devoted husband, he was chosen to feature with his family in an advert for Shredded Wheat: the project was hastily dropped.

Hoddle recently confessed to The Independent that he would consider resigning if criticism of him affected his family. If he does step aside, it is intriguing to speculate what form his next incarnation might take.

Sport, section 2


Glenn Hoddle on: Faith: "Most people look for answers outside themselves, but the answers are on the inside. We are all equal in God's eyes."

The power of prophesy: "Two days before, on the night of the Morocco game, I'd dreamt that Gazza was sitting across the table from me crying his eyes out. At the time I didn't quite understand the significance of the dream."

The power of prayer: "It wasn't a prayer to win the game. It doesn't work like that. It's more like a positive vibration, asking for an energy to help overcome any negativity in the stadium."

Managing England: "This job is huge ... Tony Blair told me he didn't envy my task."

Being knocked out of the World Cup: "I found myself asking the same question again and again: `Why I am here?' "

Football: "At the end of the day it's only a game."

Regrets: "There is no one to apologise to. If I felt that, I would have done it already."

(Source: `Glenn Hoddle: The 1998 World Cup Story')


1958: Born 27 October, Hayes, Middlesex.

1976: Professional debut for Spurs at 18.

1979: Wins first of 53 England caps.

1981: FA Cup winner with Spurs.

1987: Joins Monaco and helps win French league.

1993: Begins managerial career with Swindon. Wins league promotion and moves to Chelsea.

1996: Appointed England coach.

1997: England qualify for World Cup finals.

1998: April: sues psychic Uri Geller after he claims Hoddle and faith healer Eileen Drewery visited him before he took the England job; May: leaves Paul Gascoigne out of World Cup squad; June: England out of Cup in second round -but he is insistent that with a little luck England could have won the event; August: his World Cup book causes a storm - various revelations are criticised by leading figures in the game but he insists players will still trust him; September: FA's international committee backs him over his book; October - alleged row with Alan Shearer after 3-0 win in Luxembourg.

January 1999: Criticised after alleged comments about disabled people.

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