With grace and skill in abundance, Glenn Hoddle was a wonderfully gifted playmaker and, in many ways, an atypical English midfielder. Icons Legend of the Week #13 was an inspiration to a generation of players for whom technique was more important than the ability to run all day.
Voted Tottenham Hotspur's greatest player of all time, Hoddle was a sublime passer and a beautiful player to watch. After 12 glowing years, close to 500 appearances and 88 league goals for Spurs he moved for a spell at French side Monaco, before becoming player-manager at Swindon Town and later Chelsea. He hung up his boots in 1995 and went on to become England manager in 1996.
Hoddle joined Spurs as a schoolboy apprentice in April 1974 following a recommendation from another Spurs legend, Martin Chivers. He made his first team debut as a 17-year-old, coming off the bench against Norwich City in August 1875, but it wasn't until February 1976 that he made his first start in the First Division. He announced his arrival in sensational style, beating Stoke and England goalkeeper Peter Shilton with an outstanding long-range effort.
The 1979/80 season heralded Hoddle's emergence as a truly top-class player. With 19 goals in 41 league games he was deservedly named PFA Young Player of the Year. His breathtaking skill, vision and eye for the spectacular were at odds with the traditional British philosophy of tireless running and gutsy determination, but in Hoddle Spurs had unearthed a gem. Equally adept with both feet, as a youngster, Hoddle was used in the centre of midfield and on the wing. He went on to make the central birth his own.
Hoddle was the midfield fulcrum and creative hub of Spurs' great side of the 1980s. In 1981 he starred in Spurs sixth FA Cup win, scoring in the Final and in the Final replay against Manchester City. The following year Spurs retained the FA Cup with victory over Queens Park Rangers and secured 4th place, their highest league finish since 1971. Two years later, Hoddle was the driving force behind Spurs' 1984 UEFA Cup triumph, despite missing the final due to injury. He put in a particularly memorable performance in their 6-2 Second Round aggregate win against a Feyenoord side featuring Dutch legend Johan Cruyff. Cruyff was so impressed by Hoddle's showing that he went into the Spurs dressing room at White Hart Lane to offer him his shirt after the match.
By this time Hoddle was already an established England international, and before his move to Monaco in 1987 he had already won 44 caps and featured prominently in the World Cups and European Championships of the 1980s. In total he won 53 caps and scored eight goals during an international career that lasted until 1988.
Then Monaco manager Arsene Wenger was the man who took Hoddle across the channel to France. Ironically, the two would come up against each other in the North London derby as managers of Spurs and Arsenal some years later. Hoddle scored 27 goals in 69 Ligue 1 games for Monaco. He inspired them to a title-win in his first season and was voted the Best Foreign Player in French Football. His exploits with Monaco helped to significantly improve the standing of English players in foreign countries.
Hoddle has found himself at the centre of stormy controversies on occasion, and as a manager he never enjoyed the greatest success. But putting all that aside, his on-pitch achievements at Tottenham and Monaco demand not to be forgotten. Hoddle was the most technically gifted English player of his generation, and his exciting and attractive style made him a rare breed. At a time when Fabio Capello's England are being left behind by a supremely technical Spain side, they could use a few more players like Glenn Hoddle.