Tottenham were one of the first English clubs to compete in European competition. They have written themselves into the record books as they led the way for others to follow. This is a brief overview of their adventures and glory as well as what it means to Spurs.
The importance of European competition to Tottenham was summed up by Bill Nicholson when he said. "It's magnificent to be in Europe, and this club, a club like Tottenham Hotspur, if we're not in Europe,we're nothing."
European competition is vital to a club like Tottenham in order for the club to grow and maintain its position amongst the biggest clubs on the continent. This journey that started in a mining town in Poland and has to date seen us visit 37 countries (1) and play 93 different clubs in 191 matches (2).
Tottenham were the first British side to reach a European final. The first to win one. That first 5-1 triumph in 1963 is still the highest score in a one game final. The first British team to win two different European competitions and the first to reach three European finals. The first club to win the UEFA Cup twice. The first British club to win European trophies in three conclusive decades and only two English teams have won more than our three European trophies.
Spurs also competed in the first all British European tie and the following year the first all English tie. They won the first all English European trophy final.
To the end of the 2015/6 season our European record stands as, (2) -
Played Won Drawn Lost For Against
Home 95 70 18 7 246 71
Away 95 34 26 35 133 113
Neutral 1 1 0 0 5 1
Total 191 105 44 42 384 185
This currently season is Tottenham’s 23rd in proper competition. I exclude from that competitions such as the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and the Inter-Toto competition, both worthy of their own stories and told elsewhere (3). To fully understand its importance you will need a brief insight into its genesis. When the footballing authorities actively discouraged teams from competing. The leading clubs of the time including Tottenham, Manchester United and Wolverhampton as well as Hibernian north of the boarder undertook floodlight friendlies with the best that Europe had to offer. When European competition arrived at first only two teams would take part. The League Champions in the European Cup and later the FA Cup winners in the European Cup Winners Cup. If only the current qualification procedure had been in place in that era. The story of that time is told in a previous article (4).
Tottenham’s most seasoned campaigner is Steve Perryman with 64 games, followed by Aaron Lennon 58, and Michael Dawson 40. Our top scorer in European action is Jermain Defie with 23. (2). The leading current players are Jan Vertonghen with 31 games (12th overall) and Harry Kane with ten goals. That puts him level with own goals in 7th place, (5). To date we have scored 12 hat tricks in Europe. Harry Kane and Erik Lamela both having one. Martin Chivers is the only man to have managed it twice.
We have kept a clean sheet on 72 occasions (42 at Home) and failed to score in 34 games (7 times at home). Our largest win over two legs and the record home win came in 1971/72 when we beat Keflavik of Iceland 9-0 at home, 15-1 over two legs, in the UEFA Cup 1st Round. We scored six in the first away game. We have managed six on three occasions away from home. The best result was 6-0 away to Drogheda of the Republic of Ireland in 1983/84.
This article first appeared in2014. Revised and updated August 2016.
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Tottenham's Adventures in European Football can be found in the following -
Gornik (Hotspur Towers 25), The First Adventure (Hotspur Towers 39), Benfica First Leg & Second Leg,
Glasgow Rangers parts 1-2, Slovan Bratislava (Hotspur Towers 72), OFK Belgrade, Atletico Madrid, The Legacy,
White Hot Lane, ECWC '64.
Notes - 1- 37 countries are as they were at the time of the match, e.g. this means we have played in East and West Germany as well as a reunited Germany. Similar occurrences are recorded in Czechoslovakia, Russia and Yugoslavia.
2 - When I cross checked my figures for accuracy I went to three different sources and all had differing figures. This is partly explained in the recent 'Talking Tottenham - DeJa, stats right.' So these totals are the result of an afternoon with the record books, pen, paper and fingers. I trust they are correct. Up to the end of the 2015/16 season.
3 - The story of the Intertoto cup is @ http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/hotspur-towers-the-intertoto-cup
and the Inter Cities Cup @ http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/hotspur-towers-111
4 - The first clubs in Europe and their story @ http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/hotspur-towers-the-first-europeans
5 - Expect these and a number of players to make large jumps up the tables during the coming season.
Flying Down to Rio
History of T.H.F.C.
Tribute to Bill Nicholson
The Road to Turin
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The 100 Year War
Interview with Marina Sirtis
A Long Dark Shadow
By Royal Appointment
School Report: An Insight into the Younger Eric Dier
All Change At Spurs
History Of THFC: Part 1
Passage to India: Rohan Rickets
Thanks For The Memories
Our Tommy Carroll
The AVB Files: Part1
You The Jury
The Hand Of Hugo
Connection - Argentina
Creating a Reputation
Flying Down To Rio