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Robert Dennis "Danny" Blanchflower (10 February 1926 – 9 December 1993) was a Northern Irish
footballer A football player or footballer is a sportsperson An athlete (also sportsman or sportswoman) is a person who competes in one or more sport Sport pertains to any form of competitive Competition is a rivalry A rivalry is the s ...
who played for and captained
Tottenham Hotspur Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, commonly referred to as Tottenham () or Spurs, is an English professional association football, football club in Tottenham, London, that competes in the Premier League. Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has been the cl ...
, most notably during its
double-winning
double-winning
season of 1960–61. He was ranked as the greatest player ever in Spurs history by ''
The Times ''The Times'' is a British Newspaper#Daily, daily Newspaper#National, national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title ''The Daily Universal Register'', adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. ''The Times'' and its s ...
'' in 2009. Blanchflower played as a defensive midfielder at
right half A midfielder is an association football position. Midfielders are generally positioned on the field between their team's Defender (association football), defenders and Forward (association football), forwards. Some midfielders play a stric ...
and was known particularly for his accurate passing, his ability to dictate the tempo of the game and his inspiring leadership. After a lengthy playing career, he retired at the age of 38 and became a respected football journalist, and later a
football manager ''Football Manager'' (also known as ''Worldwide Soccer Manager'' in North America from 2004 to 2008) is a series of association football, football Manager (association football), management simulation video games developed by British developer S ...
. He made one of the best known quotes on football: "The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom."


Early years and family

Blanchflower was born on 10 February 1926 in the Bloomfield district of
Belfast Belfast ( ; , ) is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast. It is the 12th-largest city in the United Kingdom and the second-largest on the island of Ireland. It had a popul ...

Belfast
, the first of five children born to John and Selina Blanchflower.spursodyssey.com
/ref> 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 Belfast Metropolitan College, also known as ''Belfast Met'', is a further education, further and higher education institution in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The college offers both vocational education and Academia, academic qualifications. With ...

Belfast College of Technology
. He left early to become an apprentice electrician at Gallaher's cigarette factory in Belfast. He also joined the
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(ARP) and in 1943 lied about his age to join the
RAF RAF refers to the Royal Air Force The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegr ...

RAF
. As a trainee navigator he was sent on a course to
St Andrews University The University of St Andrews (, gd, Oilthigh Chill Rìmhinn; abbreviated as St And, from the Latin language, Latin ''Sancti Andreae'', in post-nominals) is a public university in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland. It is the List of oldest universities i ...
(where he acquired a lifelong love of golf) and in the spring of 1945 was posted to Canada for further training. By 1946, aged 20, he was back in Belfast, back at Gallaher's, and building a reputation as an outstanding footballer. While at St Andrews Blanchflower played for the University College Dundee football team which was coached by former
Celtic The words Celt and Celtic (also Keltic) may refer to: Ethno-linguistics *Celts The Celts (, see pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C.E. to present ancestry ...
,
Dundee United Dundee United Football Club, known locally as United, is a Scottish professional association football, football club based in the city of Dundee, Scotland. Formed in 1909, originally as Dundee Hibernian, the club changed to the present name in ...
and
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...
trainer Jack Qusklay. His younger brother Jackie (1933–1998) was also a
Northern Irish Northern Irish people is a demonym for all people born in Northern Ireland or people who are entitled to reside in Northern Ireland without any restriction on their period of residence. Most Northern Irish people either identify as Northern Ir ...
international footballer and played for
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before his playing career was ended by injuries sustained in the
Munich air disaster The Munich air disaster occurred on 6 February 1958 when British European Airways File:BEA Lapel badge.JPG, BEA flight attendant lapel badge British European Airways (BEA), formally British European Airways Corporation, was a United Kingd ...
of February 1958.


Playing career

Blanchflower signed for Glentoran in 1946, before crossing the
Irish Sea The Irish Sea or , gv, Y Keayn Yernagh, sco, Erse Sie, gd, Muir Èireann , Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster ...
and signing for
Barnsley Barnsley () is a large market Market may refer to: *Market (economics) *Market economy *Marketplace, a physical marketplace or public market Geography *Märket, an island shared by Finland and Sweden Art, entertainment, and media Films ...
for £6000 in 1949, at the age of 23. He transferred from Barnsley to
Aston Villa Aston Villa Football Club is an English professional Association football, football club based in Aston, Birmingham. The club competes in the , the top tier of the English football league system. Founded in 1874, they have played at their hom ...
for a fee of £15,000, making his debut in March 1951. He made 155 senior appearances for Villa (148 in the League), before being sold during the 1954–55 season. In 1954 Blanchflower was bought by
Tottenham Hotspur Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, commonly referred to as Tottenham () or Spurs, is an English professional association football, football club in Tottenham, London, that competes in the Premier League. Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has been the cl ...
for a fee of £30,000, and during his ten years at
White Hart Lane White Hart Lane was a Association football, football stadium in Tottenham, North London and the home of Tottenham Hotspur F.C., Tottenham Hotspur Football Club from 1899 to 2017. Its capacity varied over the years; when changed to all-seater i ...

White Hart Lane
he made 337 League appearances,Football League Career Stats at Neil Brown
/ref> and 382 total appearances (scoring 21 goals). The highlight of his time at Spurs came with the 1960–61 season. With Blanchflower as captain Spurs won their first 11 games, a record for the top flight of English football and eventually won the league by 8 points. They then beat
Leicester City Leicester is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routled ...
in the final of the
FA Cup The Football Association Challenge Cup, more commonly known as the FA Cup, is an annual knockout A knockout (abbreviated to KO or K.O.) is a fight-ending, winning criterion in several full-contact Contact sports are sports that emphasize ...
to become the first team in the 20th century to win the League and Cup double, not achieved since
Aston Villa Aston Villa Football Club is an English professional Association football, football club based in Aston, Birmingham. The club competes in the , the top tier of the English football league system. Founded in 1874, they have played at their hom ...
in 1897. Blanchflower was voted
FWA Footballer of the Year The Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year (often called the FWA Footballer of the Year, or in England simply the Footballer of the Year) is an annual award given to the player who is adjudged to have been the best of the season in ...
in 1958 and 1961. In 1962 he helped Spurs win the
FA Cup The Football Association Challenge Cup, more commonly known as the FA Cup, is an annual knockout A knockout (abbreviated to KO or K.O.) is a fight-ending, winning criterion in several full-contact Contact sports are sports that emphasize ...
, scoring a penalty in the final against Burnley. In 1963 he captained his side to victory over
Atlético Madrid Club Atlético de Madrid, Sociedad Anónima Deportiva, S.A.D. (; meaning "Athletic Club of Madrid"), commonly referred to as Atlético de Madrid in English or simply as Atlético or Atleti, is a Spanish professional Association football, footb ...
in the final of the
European Cup Winners' Cup The UEFA Cup Winners' Cup was a European football Football is a family of s that involve, to varying degrees, a to score a . Unqualified, normally means the form of football that is the most popular where the word is used. Sports comm ...
. During his time with Spurs he also had a short spell with Toronto City, alongside fellow Football League players
Stanley Matthews Sir Stanley Matthews, Order of the British Empire, CBE (1 February 1915 – 23 February 2000) was an English Association football, footballer who played as an Forward (association football)#Outside forward, outside right. Often regarded as one o ...

Stanley Matthews
and Johnny Haynes. Making his debut in 1949, he earned 56 caps for
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster- ...
, and in 1958 captained his country when they reached the quarter-finals of the
World Cup #REDIRECT World cup A world cup is a global sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to participant ...
. He was the first Northern Irishman to achieve a half century of caps when he played against Wales in 1962. On 4 December 1957 he captained the Northern Ireland team against
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...
in
Belfast Belfast ( ; , ) is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast. It is the 12th-largest city in the United Kingdom and the second-largest on the island of Ireland. It had a popul ...

Belfast
, in a bad tempered game that came to be known as the "Battle of Belfast"; Blanchflower attempted to keep the peace as the game turned nasty. He finally announced his retirement as a player of 5 April 1964 at the age of 38, having played nearly 400 games in all competitions for Spurs and captained them to four major trophies. In 1965, Blanchflower briefly came out of retirement to play for Durban City. Blanchflower played three times for the club in the National Football League (South Africa), National Football League.


Career as manager

Following his retirement as a player, Blanchflower coached at Spurs for a number of years, and double-winning manager Bill Nicholson (footballer), Bill Nicholson intended for Blanchflower to be his long-term successor. When Nicholson resigned from the club in 1974 however, Blanchflower found himself being passed over in favour of Terry Neill, and subsequently left the club himself. He became manager of Northern Ireland for a brief spell in 1978, and was then appointed as Chelsea F.C., Chelsea boss. However, he won only five of his 32 games in charge and he left them in September 1979.


Off the field

He was one of only a handful of players to have been awarded the title of
FWA Footballer of the Year The Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year (often called the FWA Footballer of the Year, or in England simply the Footballer of the Year) is an annual award given to the player who is adjudged to have been the best of the season in ...
on two occasions, winning in both 1958 and 1961. He was one of many signatories in a letter to ''The Times'' on 17 July 1958 opposing 'the policy of apartheid' in international sport and defending 'the principle of racial equality which is embodied in the Declaration of the Olympic Games'. On 6 February 1961, he also became the first person to turn down the invitation to appear on ''This Is Your Life (British TV series), This Is Your Life'', simply walking away from host Eamonn Andrews. Contrary to belief, this incident was not broadcast live on air, but was being recorded to be shown at the beginning of the live transmission. "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 (TV network), ITV as early as 3 January 1956 – the final of the Southern Junior Floodlit Cup between West Ham United F.C., West Ham and Chelsea F.C., Chelsea. He also hosted editions of the BBC's Junior Sportsview in 1959. He was the colour commentator for the CBS Sports, CBS television network broadcasts of National Professional Soccer League (1967), National Professional Soccer League matches in the United States in 1967. His candour about the fledgling league's shortcomings distressed network executives, as he recounted in a 10 June 1968 ''Sports Illustrated'' article he authored. In the 1968–69 season he was the regular commentator for Yorkshire Television.


Later life and death

Anton Weinberg's 1985 Channel 4 documentary film ''The Keller Instinct'' featured an appearance by Blanchflower, who spoke approvingly of his late friend musicologist Hans Keller's advocacy of inventive, tactically creative football. He retired from his position as a writer for the ''Sunday Express'' in 1988. On 1 May 1990, Tottenham held a testimonial match for him at
White Hart Lane White Hart Lane was a Association football, football stadium in Tottenham, North London and the home of Tottenham Hotspur F.C., Tottenham Hotspur Football Club from 1899 to 2017. Its capacity varied over the years; when changed to all-seater i ...

White Hart Lane
, but by this stage he was in the first stages of what would later be diagnosed as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. He was eventually placed in Woodlands Nursing Home, Staines. He died there from pneumonia on 9 December 1993, aged 67. He was buried nearby at St. Jude's Cemetery, Englefield Green.


Legacy

Blanchflower was honoured in his home city of Belfast with an Ulster History Circle plaque recognising his outstanding achievements in the world of sport. The blue plaque is located at 49 Grace Avenue, his childhood home. The Danny Blanchflower Playing Fields in East Belfast, owned by Belfast City Council, was named after him. Plans to redevelop the site date to include more professional football facilities started in the mid-2000s and went through several revisions. By 2020, construction of a new stadium and grounds for Harland & Wolff Welders F.C. was underway in the park, to be followed by nature trails and community projects.


Honours

Tottenham Hotspur * Football League First Division: 1960–61 Football League, 1960–61 * FA Cup: 1961 FA Cup Final, 1960–61, 1962 FA Cup Final, 1961–62 *
European Cup Winners' Cup The UEFA Cup Winners' Cup was a European football Football is a family of s that involve, to varying degrees, a to score a . Unqualified, normally means the form of football that is the most popular where the word is used. Sports comm ...
: 1963 European Cup Winners' Cup Final, 1962–63 Individual *
FWA Footballer of the Year The Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year (often called the FWA Footballer of the Year, or in England simply the Footballer of the Year) is an annual award given to the player who is adjudged to have been the best of the season in ...
: 1958, 1961 * FIFA World Cup awards, FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 1958 FIFA World Cup, 1958 * English Football Hall of Fame: 2003


Filmography

* ''Those Glory Glory Days'' (1983)


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * Brown, Geoff and Hogsbjerg, Christian. ''Apartheid is not a Game: Remembering the Stop the Seventy Tour campaign.'' London: Redwords, 2020. . {{DEFAULTSORT:Blanchflower, Danny 1926 births 1993 deaths 1958 FIFA World Cup players Alumni of the University of St Andrews Association football commentators Association football wing halves Association footballers from Belfast Association footballers from Northern Ireland Aston Villa F.C. players Barnsley F.C. players Chelsea F.C. managers Durban City F.C. players Deaths from Alzheimer's disease Neurological disease deaths in England Eastern Canada Professional Soccer League players English Football Hall of Fame inductees English Football League players Glentoran F.C. players NIFL Premiership players National Football League (South Africa) players Football managers from Northern Ireland Northern Ireland international footballers Northern Ireland national football team managers Toronto City players Tottenham Hotspur F.C. players North American Soccer League (1968–1984) commentators London XI players English Football League representative players Sports journalists from Northern Ireland Male non-fiction writers from Northern Ireland Expatriate association footballers from Northern Ireland Expatriate soccer players in South Africa Royal Air Force personnel of World War II FA Cup Final players Child soldiers in World War II