“For me the ball is a diamond. If you have something that precious, you don’t get rid of it, you offer it.”
Glenn Hoddle’s words on signing for Monaco from Tottenham Hotspur in 1987 sum up the playing style of this supremely gifted and cultured midfielder.
Hoddle’s first full season in the Spurs side was marred by relegation in 1977, but, as the creative fulcrum of the team, he helped them back up to the top flight at the first attempt.
In 1979/80, Hoddle racked up 22 goals from his position in midfield, and made his England debut in a European Championship Qualifier against Bulgaria, scoring in a 2-0 win.
The playmaker had touch and vision. His passing inspired the Jasper Carrott joke: “I hear Hoddle’s found God, that must have been a hell of a pass.”
He had a knack for scoring spectacular volleys and free-kicks, but he was something of an enigma in an England shirt. His smooth, unhurried style and perceived dislike for off-the-ball work led some to label him a ‘luxury’ player.
Danny Blanchflower, Hoddle’s predecessor in Spurs’ midfield, responded: “Hoddle a luxury? It’s the bad players who’re a luxury.”
After managing at Swindon Town and Chelsea, Hoddle became England manager in 1996, guiding the team to the 1998 World Cup in France.