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Danny Blanchflower
Personal information
Full name Robert Dennis Blanchflower
Date of birth 10 February 1926(1926-02-10)
Place of birth    Belfast, Northern Ireland
Date of death    9 December 1993 (aged 67)
Place of death    London, England
Playing position Midfielder
Youth career
19??–1949 Glentoran
Senior career1
Years Club App (Gls)*
1949–1951
1951–1954
1954–1964
1961
1964-1965
Barnsley
Aston Villa
Tottenham Hotspur
Toronto City (loan)
Durban City
068 0(2)
148 (10)
337 (15)   
National team
1949–1963 Northern Ireland 056 0(2)
Teams managed
1976–1979
1978–1979
Northern Ireland
Chelsea

1 Senior club appearances and goals
counted for the domestic league only.
* Appearances (Goals)

Robert Dennis "Danny" Blanchflower (10 February 1926 – 9 December 1993) was a footballer, football manager, and journalist who captained Tottenham Hotspur F.C. during its double-winning season of 1961. He was ranked as the greatest player in Spurs history by The Times in 2009.[1] He is remembered as one of the great tacticians in the history of the game, renowned for his passing, and as an outstanding right-half.

Contents

Early years

Blanchflower was born 10 February 1926 in the Bloomfield district of Belfast, Northern Ireland; 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. His younger brother Jackie Blanchflower played for Manchester United.

He left early to become an apprentice electrician at Gallagher's cigarette factory in Belfast. 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 Gallagher's, 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 paid £6,000 to transfer him to England, and two years later Aston Villa bought him for £15,000. He played 155 times for Villa, captaining the side on many occasions.

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 Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) for the huge fee of £30,000, 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 the Spurs team to victory in the FA Cup (scoring a penalty in the final against Burnley), 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 Atlético 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 and 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 6 February 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."

Blanchflower commentated on a match for ITV as early as 3rd January 1956 - the final of the Southern Junior Floodlit Cup between West Ham and Chelsea.[2] He was the colour commentator for the CBS television network broadcasts of National Professional Soccer League matches in the United States in 1967.[3] His candour about the fledgling league's shortcomings distressed network executives, as he recounted in a 10 June 1968 Sports Illustrated article he authored.[4] In the 1968-69 season he was the regular commentator for Yorkshire Television.[5]

Anton Weinberg's 1985 Channel 4 documentary film 'The Keller Instinct' featured an appearance by Blanchflower, who spoke approvingly of his late friend Hans Keller's advocacy of inventive, tactically creative football.

In the later years of his life, Blanchflower suffered from Alzheimer's Disease, and died at his home in London on 9 December 1993 aged 67. In 2003 Blanchflower was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.

Filmography

  • Those Glory Glory Days (1984)

References

Bibliography

  • David Bowler (1997). Danny Blanchflower: The Biography of a Visionary. Orion. ISBN 0-575-06504-4.  
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