Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pat Jennings to be Honoured

Pat Jennings with his UEFA award at Windsor Park, Belfast
Tottenham Hotspur's legendary goalkeeper, Pat Jennings, is to be honoured by UEFA at Friday night's Euro2012 match between Northern Ireland and Serbia at Windsor Park, Belfast.  Jennings is among a number of players to be honoured by UEFA in recognition of winning over one hundred international caps for their country.

Jennings who signed for Spurs in June, 1964 from Watford for £27,000 had already made his International debut for Northern Ireland against Wales, the previous April.  At the age of eighteen he made his debut in the same team as George Best and helped Northern Ireland to a 3 - 2 victory in the Home International Championships.  He made 119 appearances for his country and played in two World Cup Finals in Spain in 1982 and in Mexico four years later.  In Spain, Northern Ireland memorably defeated the home country to top their group and progress to the next stage.  He retired from club football in 1985 but continued to play for Northern Ireland until the completion of their participation in the 1986 World Cup finals.  His last match was on his 41st birthday against Brazil.

Jennings played for Tottenham for thirteen years and made 472 League appearances for the club and 118 in Cup competitions.  He made his debut in August, 1964 against Sheffield United at White Hart Lane on the opening day of the season in a 2 - 0 win.  He won the FA Cup in 1967, the League Cup in 1971 and 1973 and was a member of the successful UEFA Cup winning team of 1972.  He is remembered for his ability to go out to catch the ball with one hand and for his numerous match winning saves.  He saved two penalties at Anfield to earn Spurs a point and won the Football Writers' Player of the Year Award in 1973 and the PFA award in 1976.  In the 1967 Charity Shield game at Old Trafford he scored for Spurs with a long kick down field which deceived Alex Stepney.  Spurs and United drew 3 - 3.  He was out through injury in season 1976-77 when Spurs were relegated and at the end of the season manager, Keith Burkinshaw, inexplicably decided to release Jennings who went to Arsenal where he performed heroically for another eight years.  He returned to Spurs in 1985 as cover for Ray Clemence but primarily to stay fit for Northern Ireland's World Cup campaign.

Pat Jennings
Since retiring he has worked at Tottenham as a goalkeeping coach/consultant and on the hospitality side on match days.

Jennings has been a great ambassador for Tottenham Hotspur and Northern Ireland and thoroughly deserving of this award from UEFA.

It was a great disappointment to Spurs fans that he was released back in 1977, made worse by joining Arsenal, but he was such a hero and so highly regarded by everyone at Tottenham that he has always been respected and was welcomed back warmly at the end of his career.

Thank you Pat Jennings and congratulations on receiving this award.


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