Footballer of the Year 1973: Pat Jennings, Tottenham Hotspur

(Pat Jennings with the 1973 Footballer of the Year trophy – PA Archive)

Jennings is a rare breed in that he is idolised by supporters of both Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, a legend in goal for both clubs.

The Northern Irishman played just shy of 600 matches for Spurs and 327 for the Gunners on his way to becoming the first British man to play 1,000 games.

He even registered a goal in the 1967 FA Charity Shield as his clearance bounced over Manchester United goalkeeper Alex Stepney and into the back of the net.

Jennings’s Northern Ireland career stretched 22 years, with his final professional match coming in the 1986 World Cup when aged 41 he stepped onto the pitch for the 119th and final time. He is currently still the record cap holder for his country.

(Cyril Knowles (left) and Pat Jennings carry the FA cup, after Tottenham Hotspurs 1967 victory over Chelsea at Wembley – PA Archive)

Described by the great Gordon Banks as “the perfect goalkeeper: safe hands, razor sharp reflexes, an acute understanding of angles and positioning, brave without being foolish and a master of intelligent distribution. Above all he had a marvellous temperament. No matter how great the pressure, he was always calm and in control.”

During his 13 seasons at Tottenham, Jennings won the FA Cup, two League Cups and a UEFA Cup. However, despite reaching four cup finals with Arsenal, he only managed one FA Cup triumph with the Gunners.

Post his playing career, Jennings spent 25 years on the coaching team at Spurs and is still a regular at Tottenham Hotspur matches more than 50 years on from joining the club.

What Pat said:

“The FWA announcement of my award as Footballer of the Year in 1972-3 cited my ‘many years of consistency at club and international level’. “The highlight of my season came on the morning of the Grand National when I saved two penalties at Anfield against Liverpool, who later went on to win the Championship. When I collected my statuette I said : ‘How could I avoid the award playing behind our defence?’

“That year Spurs won the League Cup with a Wembley victory against Norwich and became the first team to have their name on the trophy for a second time.

“But for me and the side it was another statistic in a remarkable cup record, the ninth senior final and the ninth win, the sixth under manager Bill Nicholson. Following the League Cup triumph in 1971 and the UEFA Cup in 1972 – we beat Wolves 3-2 on aggregate – it brought Spurs a remarkable hat-trick.”

What the writers said:

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