Former FWA Chairman Alex Montgomery knew Terry Venables better than most. Here is his personal tribute to the former Barcelona, Tottenham and England manager, who died at the weekend.
It was comforting to read the many tributes to Terry from inside and outside the beautiful game: from players, directors, fans, officialdom, the media, society in general, every one of whom without exception hold the same views of a quite exceptionally charismatic man: a legend in his own lifetime.
For those of us old enough Terry was a wonderfully entertaining footballer who developed into a master coach; innovative, adventurous, cheeky, who went on to emerge as a club and international manager of the highest order revered by his own, respected by all he encountered.
He was sociable and welcoming, a particularly good friend to those of us with notebooks and pens, and mikes and cameras. We knew we weren’t being deliberately nurtured for good headlines, he was simply comfortable talking to us as a group or individually, explaining his thoughts, listening to our chat.
Anyway, the point of his professional existence was the players he loved, really loved, his support staff of Ted Buxton and Bryan Robson and Mike Kelly and Dave Butler and the rest plus those supporters who followed his clubs and then England.
Leading the country he believed in passionately was the high point of his ambition so much so that he accepted what would be considered a humiliating wage offer from Noel White then Chairman of the FA’s international committee. Terry then spent two years building a team he hoped would win Euro 96 and believed as did many others in the English game would be strong enough to challenge for the World title in France in ’98. Unfortunately White would not offer Terry a new contract until after the Euro finals had been assessed. Terry said he did not do auditions and walked away from the job to be replaced by Glenn Hoddle.
Terry lived for today but he had a restless spirit always focussed on tomorrow, the future. It was part of an entrepreneurial mindset that had to be obeyed.
His successes and disappointments have been well recorded as were those, for him, horrendous occasions when the hounds of hell were battering on his door almost non- stop. He was always dignified in success or defeat.
Terry will be my missing link for the foreseeable though my loss does not compare to that of his adored wife Yvette and daughters Nancy and Tracey.
He was my long time lunch, afternoon and evening drink associate, not all on the same day, and friend, putting together columns, an autobiography, talking politics, old tales and new ones.
A sad loss, but such great memories.