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HomeSportsTerry Venables, Former England, Tottenham, Barcelona Manager Dies Aged 80

Terry Venables, Former England, Tottenham, Barcelona Manager Dies Aged 80

Terry Venables led England to semi-finals of European Championship in 1996, and won La Liga while in charge at Barcelona

Terry Venables was hailed as “the most technically gifted British coach” in history as the biggest names in English football paid tribute after his death, aged 80.

The former England manager, who masterminded the country’s 4-1 demolition of Holland at Euro 96, “passed away peacefully” after a long illness, his family said.

His death prompted an immediate wave of tributes from some of the best-known figures in the game as well as from the Football Association and his former club Tottenham.

Dagenham-born Venables, known affectionately as El Tel after becoming one of the first English managers to achieve success overseas at Barcelona, was a pioneer of modern coaching methods.

As a player he made more than 500 appearances for Chelsea, Tottenham, QPR and Crystal Palace but he made his real mark internationally in management, also at Palace and QPR.

“We are totally devastated by the loss of a wonderful husband and father who passed away peacefully yesterday after a long illness,” read a family statement.

“We would ask that privacy be given at this incredibly sad time to allow us to mourn the loss of this lovely man who we were so lucky to have had in our lives.”

In Spain, Venables won La Liga with Barcelona in 1984-85 and the FA Cup with Spurs in 1991. While England manager, he guided the team to the semi-final of Euro 96 on home soil.

Barcelona said: “FC Barcelona deeply regrets the passing of Terry Venables, who managed Barca from 1984 to 1987. Our condolences to his loved ones. Rest in peace.”

Among that famous Euro 96 line-up was current England manager Gareth Southgate, who missed a decisive penalty against Germany in the semi-finals. “Tactically excellent, he had a wonderful manner, capable of handling everyone from the youngest player to the biggest star,” said Southgate, who was given his international debut in 1995 by Venables.

“He was open minded, forward thinking, enjoyed life to the full and created a brilliant environment with England that allowed his players to flourish and have one of the most memorable tournaments in England history. A brilliant man, who made people feel special, I’m very sad to hear of his passing and my thoughts are with Yvette and all of his family.

Having stood down as England manager after Euro 96, Venables returned to the set-up as assistant to Steve McClaren in 2006, but left after they failed to qualify for Euro 2008.

Richard Bevan, the League Managers’ Association chief executive who announced Venables’ death on behalf of his family, said the LMA was “deeply saddened”.

Tottenham held a minute’s applause and players wore black armbands for Sunday’s fixture at home to Villa. “We are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of Terry Venables, our former player, manager and chief executive, who passed away on Saturday,” said a club statement.

Gary Lineker, whom Venables signed for Barcelona from Everton in 1986 and then brought to Tottenham in 1989 after he took the job at White Hart Lane, paid his own tribute on X, formerly Twitter:

Former England striker Alan Shearer, who was the spearhead of Venables’ Euro 96 side, posted on X: “Extremely sad news the great Terry Venables has passed away. RIP Boss. I owe you so much. You were amazing.”

Gary Neville, who was also given his international debut by Venables, said he “was an unbelievable personality and character, larger than life,”.

He added: “He was someone who was a players’ man, looked after his players, stood up for his players in big situations like the pre-96 trip to Hong Kong and the dentist chair incident.

“A personality that was far too big for the then rigid and stiff FA and that’s why they got rid of him after Euro 96 and why the relationship ended.

“I sit here today thinking back to my special times with Terry and can say he is without doubt the most technically gifted British coach we’ve ever produced.”

At Tottenham, even Villa fans paid tribute

Terry Venables tribute at Spurs. Players led the applause for Venables before kick-off.

The Terry Venables news reached Tottenham two hours before kick-off against Aston Villa and too late to change the pre-match music. So the death of one of this club’s most beloved managers was marked not with his beloved crooners but instead banging house remixes of modern pop. Perhaps that was about right, Venables never seemed one for solemnity.

His time here ended unhappily in a falling-out with Alan Sugar but any memories of rancour have faded. Nothing could eclipse the team of Gascoigne, Lineker and Mabbutt which he moulded and led to the FA Cup in 1991. Football’s present and past always clash outside this ground, where the crowd spans generations and distances travelled. There are the local loyalists who saw Venables’ debut as a midfielder in 1966 but also a healthy smattering of primary school kids and tourists, especially from South Korea, ticking off Son Heung-min from their bucket list.

Few of those latter groups had first-hand memories of Venables and nor did Tottenham’s players. Only Fraser Forster, one of two goalkeepers on the Spurs bench, was born when Venables won his FA Cup here. Son, Ben Davies and Giovani Lo Celso were the only Spurs starters alive by the time he was managing England against Switzerland in the first game of Euro 96.

They and Spurs’ younger fans would have grasped the affection towards Venables after the game’s prologue. The teams emerged a minute earlier than planned, no small feat at such short notice when every second from turnstiles opening to kick-off is accounted for. As stadium announcer Paul Coyte relayed the news, spontaneous applause emerged from the stands.

Tottenham’s and Aston Villa’s players huddled around the centre circle to join in, and the towering South Stand broke into an old favourite, from a time when this site was rather less gleaming. “Oh, Terry Terry” to the tune of Son of my Father. There was a warmth, as far as you can gauge such things, including from the Villa section. The summer of 1996 was Venables’ gift to English football fans and affection for him spreads wider than most managers who were associated so strongly with one club.

‘By far the best coach, manager and tactician’

“A very sad day, but he leaves great memories for this football club,” said former Spurs centre-back Graham Roberts before the game. “He played here, he managed the team, and he was a fantastic man. His football was fantastic. Those managers who brought the Tottenham way, Terry was one of them. I’m sure Gazza will be very sad today because when Terry was involved he was a great player.”

Spurs manager Ange Postecoglou understands Venables’ totemic status. “If you are asking about a person who embodies everything this football club has always wanted to be, it is Terry,” he said on Sky Sports. “It wasn’t just about the way he managed or coached; it was the person he was.

“He influenced Australia as well. He was the manager for the national team and almost got us to the World Cup, but the biggest testament is that anyone who I have ever come across that has worked with him will say he is by far the best coach, manager and tactician they have come across.”

There are 10 more days before Tottenham play at home again, enough time for fans and club to plan more considered tributes. For now, after the final whistle, a black and white portrait on the four big screens which hang in the corners. His old team had lost from a winning position and face a bleak winter with a daunting injury list. But there was Venables as we will remember him, smiling through adversity.

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