081. Danny Blanchflower
Northern Irish wing-half Danny Blanchflower was one of the most inspirational captains in the game’s history, at both club and international level. He led Tottenham Hotspur to historic domestic success, as well as taking his country to the greatest achievement in their history. Having started his career in Northern Ireland with Glentoran, it was a move to Barnsley in England in 1949 that really kick-started his career.
In his two year stay with Barnsley he broke into the Northern Irish national team attracted the attention of several top division clubs. Blanchflower moved on to Aston Villa in 1951, and after a successful three year stay moved on to Tottenham Hotspur, who outbid rivals Arsenal for his signature. It was there that he would enjoy his greatest success.
In 1958, Blanchflower overcame the trauma of nearly losing his brother Jackie in the Munich Air Crash to lead Northern Ireland to their first ever World Cup. He played in every game as Northern Ireland surprisingly reached the quarter-finals, before bowing out to France. Blanchflower was named Footballer of the Year in England in 1958, as Tottenham Hotspur became regular contenders for major honours under manager Bill Nicholson.
Blanchflower was a crucial part of the Tottenham Hotspur side that created English football history in the 1960-61 season, captaining the team to the first English League and Cup ‘Double’ of the 20th Century. They retained the F.A. Cup the following year, and in 1963 Blanchflower became the first captain of an British club to lift a European trophy as Tottenham Hotspur claimed the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
Having retired from playing in 1964, he enjoyed a successful career as a journalist but returned to football in 1976 to take over as manager of the Northern Irish national team, as well as spending a short time as manager of Chelsea. In the 1980s Blanchflower returned to his career as a journalist, but sadly he fell victim to Alzheimer’s Disease in his 60s and died in 1993, aged 67.