Sport Soccer

Wednesday 26 July 2017

White Hart Lane through the eyes of its greatest players

Gary Mabbutt was speaking at William Hill's Tottenham Hotspur shop ahead of the club's last ever game at White Hart Lane
Gary Mabbutt was speaking at William Hill's Tottenham Hotspur shop ahead of the club's last ever game at White Hart Lane
Cliff Jones was speaking at William Hill's Tottenham Hotspur shop ahead of the club's last ever game at White Hart Lane.
Cliff Jones was speaking at William Hill's Tottenham Hotspur shop ahead of the club's last ever game at White Hart Lane.
Cliff Jones was speaking at William Hill's Tottenham Hotspur shop ahead of the club's last ever game at White Hart Lane.

White Hart Lane will close its doors for the final time after Tottenham face Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday.

Spurs will move to Wembley next season while their new stadium is completed, 118 years after they first called White Hart Lane home.

Here, former fans' favourites Gary Mabbutt, Ricky Villa, Darren Anderton, Ossie Ardiles and Cliff Jones give their thoughts on the club's big move.

On saying goodbye...

Mabbutt: It's going to be an emotional day for everyone connected with the club, but hopefully a celebration of what's happened in the 118 years of the stadium. I'm lucky to travel around the world with football and the name White Hart Lane is synonymous with Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. It's an iconic stadium.

Villa: It is hard to know how I will feel on Sunday, but it's good. Forget the history, the history nobody can change. It's a positive. The club is getting bigger and getting better. But of course many people are thinking it is the last game and I believe some people will cry there. But I'm thinking positive. The future is good for the club.

Anderton: It will be good and bad. I loved all the clubs I played for, but Tottenham was my home, where my career was and where the best things happened for me. It'll definitely be sad because I still get that buzz when I go there. I love the fact the new stadium is still on site, so you get the same feeling driving to the ground. It will be a different stadium, but a great stadium, frighteningly good.

Ardiles: Definitely it's going to be sad because a stadium with so many wonderful memories is going to be no more. More than sad, it will be very emotional, but on the other hand I am looking forward very much to the new stadium. We needed the new stadium to keep growing as a club, so this is the future and something that needed to be done.

Jones: I'll be thinking back to the memories of when we played. Us young men going out on the pitch and so many of them no longer with us. That will all come flooding back and I'm sure it will be an emotional occasion but a very special moment for the fans because, as Bill Nicholson always said, they are the most important thing.

On first impressions...

Mabbutt: I remember before I signed Bill Nicholson invited me to White Hart Lane. I drove through the gates and thought this is where I wanted to be. Bill showed me around and I signed a week later. Fortunately five minutes into my debut Glenn Hoddle put a free-kick straight on my head and I scored. The fans warmed to me and I warmed to the fans and it's been the same ever since.

Villa: The reception the supporters gave Ossie and me was great. The atmosphere of the stadium, with the ticker-tape, it was great. Maybe now the atmosphere will change a little bit - if it's a bigger stadium the people might be further from the pitch. But what can you do? The future is there, Tottenham have to live it.

Anderton: I remember signing and I ended up going to White Hart Lane and doing a medical with my mum and dad being there. I was walking out to the pitch and thinking, 'Wow this is daunting'. I thought of all the players that had played there and what the club were used to in terms of the players they had and I wanted to be one of those.

Ardiles: It was brilliant from the very first moment. It was the one stadium in the world where I felt more comfortable than anywhere else. It felt like my second home. I was always happy to be there and whenever I arrived I felt, 'OK I am going to play well today and we are going to win today'.

Jones: The first time I was at White Hart Lane was against Leicester. It wasn't a particularly great game for me as I ended up pulling my muscle, but I did get the hang of White Hart Lane. I just loved the atmosphere that came from that ground and our supporters.

On their favourite memory...

Mabbutt: Winning the UEFA Cup in 1984. Wearing our all-white kit and there's always that extra buzz to the atmosphere. When Tony Parks made that save, it was an incredible moment and the whole stadium erupted. I remember us getting the trophy, doing our lap of honour and then we went to an old building on the High Road. We took the cup up to the balcony and thousands of fans turned out to celebrate.

Villa: The reception the fans gave me was amazing, but the other good moment for me was when I scored a hat-trick against Wolverhampton when we won 6-1. I kicked the ball on my run and it just kept going, going going. That was a top, top moment for me.

Anderton: Jurgen Klinsmann was a fans' favourite. He came as a world-class player and the celebration with the dive, people took to him all over the country. It was a real pleasure to play with him and, at 22, what better guy to look up to? I was playing for England and thought I wasn't bad and then he walked through the door.

Ardiles: The UEFA Cup was number one, but also Diego Maradona playing in my testimonial. It was one month after he had won the World Cup and I asked if he could play. Argentina were playing a friendly in Norway and the manager said, 'No chance'. But Diego said, 'Sorry I'm going', and he came. And he was great of course.

Jones: The first European Cup match against Gornik (Zabrze). After the away leg we were 4-2 down and Bill Nicholson wasn't very happy with us. We went out at White Hart Lane and the atmosphere, the noise, it was pandemonium. The Gornik players were looking around the stadium thinking, 'What an earth is this?' They were a goal down before we kicked off. I got a hat-trick and we won 8-1.

On the future...

Mabbutt: It's going to be one of the best stadiums in the world. The young group of players believe they can achieve things together. Next season at Wembley will be fantastic. This year didn't go too well, but the players will be be familiar with it and I'm really looking forward to next season.

Villa: It's a difficult move. The challenge for Mauricio Pochettino is to keep the team. If he does that we have a chance to win something next year. The team is growing up, the players are getting better every year and if Pochettino can keep this team they have the chance.

Anderton: Now White Hart Lane is a fortress and we're moving! It's going to be a tough place to leave and go for a year to Wembley. I loved playing at Wembley so I can only imagine as an away player you're going to look forward to it. They need to keep the team together, keep the manager there and do whatever it takes to do that.

Ardiles: They are doing very well in the last two seasons, but you never know when you will win something. It is easy to say, 'OK now they have to win something' but you play, you try to do your best and hopefully things will happen. There is no reason why they can't win something.

Jones: I'm quite excited about going to the new stadium, there will be 61,000 people there, a thousand more than at the Emirates, which is a good thing. It's all in place. You've got to keep Pochettino. He's a brilliant young manager, very similar to Bill Nicholson in many ways. Bill would say to us, 'Play the way you train', and Pochettino thinks the same way. It's all training, playing, coaching. He's an amazing young manager and we have to keep him.

Jones and Mabbutt were speaking at William Hill's Tottenham Hotspur shop, while Ardiles, Villa and Anderton were speaking on behalf of Football Whispers, the world's first transfer predictor. Visit footballwhispers.com.

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