One of the greats in Tottenham’s recent history. Loved by the fans for his whole hearted commitment to the cause. A hardworking player with non-stop running and an accurate passing ability. He was skillful and always looked composed. His ability to play in a number of positions whilst a great asset to the club may have hindered his international career but he is a true legend of White Hart Lane. Here are a few points about Gary Vincent Mabbutt you might not be aware of.
His dad was a professional with Gary’s own first club Bristol Rovers whilst his brother started his career with local rivals City. When Gary was first diagnosed with Diabetes the doctors suggested he carry sugar lumps in a pocket in his shorts when he said that wouldn’t work then they came up with maybe the referee could carry some for you!
He would go on to become the first Diabetic to play for the full England team. Once after he went into a diabetic coma he regained consciousness in hospital and its reported the first thing he said realizing he had missed a match was how did Spurs get on.
He was the first Bristol Rovers player to play for England Under 21’s. However his first call up only came about because it was snowing! The game was to be played in Swindon and the weather was so bad a number of players couldn’t get to the ground. Gary living in Bristol joined the squad and spent the game on the bench.
When Gary was called up in to the full England squad for the first time he found out whilst he was sitting in the Dentists chair. His only goal for England came in a game V Yugoslavia. He scored with a header form a corner taken by Glenn Hoddle. In total he just won 16 caps spread over more than nine years, his versatility possibly not helping him secure a fixed position.
Gary was the captain of the England B team for their summer tour in 1989 that went to Switzerland, Iceland and Norway. He had an extra duty to perform when they reached Iceland as the local Spurs Supporters Club gave him their player of the year award.
One of the victims at the Hillsbourgh disaster was actually a Spurs supporter. His family asked if he could be buried in one of Gary’s shirts. Not only did Gary arrange this he also attended the service and read the lesson.
At the end of his first season with Spurs Gary went on holiday to Florida. Where he used a product to ‘lighten’ his hair. However it did not go to plan and he went ‘extremely blond’. He rapidly became known as ‘The Blond Bombshell.’ but manager Keith Burkenshaw wasn’t impressed thinking Gary had don’t it to be flash.
Right - The bombshell in action.
In November 1993 he received a particularly nasty and vicious elbow in the face that fractured his cheekbone which put him out for three months and then he had to wear a ‘Phantom of the Opera’ type mask. Later in 1986 he broke a leg on the opening day of the season that kept him out for over a year.
Pic left - The Phantom of the Lane receives instructions from Ossie.
Gary was a member of the side that won the UEFA Cup in 1984 and captained the team to FA Cup victory in 1991 (1), as well as being a runner up in 1987. Having joined the club in 1982 and becoming captain in 1987. When he retired at the end of the 1997/98 season he was the second longest serving player, and came on for a brief cameo at the end of the game at home to Southampton. The ovation he received truly reflected what a loved figure he was, and remains, at Tottenham.
Despite his various injuries Gary managed a total of 557 games and 50 goals at Tottenham in all competitions and other games, (2).
Gary has featured in a number of TV appearances especially on children’s programme’s talking about both football and Diabetes. He also appeared in the ‘The Queens Nose’ a children’s TV drama as himself
He is still a busy man, apart form being an ambassador for Tottenham, He fulfills the same role for the Football Association and the Princes Trust. He is also a patron of Diabetes UK and is involved in a children’s charity in South Africa and the Tottenham Tribute Trust. He was an ambassador for that countries hosting of the World Cup in 2010. Gary has been awarded the MBE in the UK Honours list.
t- Keith 16024542
f- peter shearman (old non de plume)
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Notes - 1 - See Cup Adventures 3,
2 - Thanks to historian, Bob Goodwin for these stats, although you wont be surprised to learn some sources quote other figures.
Thanks also - Gary's own autobiography, Against All Odds, THFC, EnglandStats,
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