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Bill Nicholson tells the BBC's Bob Chaundy about his double-winning side
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Bill Nicholson on the current Spurs manager Glenn Hoddle
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Thursday, 9 August, 2001, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Tottenham legend takes his bow
Bill Nicholson takes his bow with Martin Chivers
Bill Nicholson takes his bow with Martin Chivers
Bill Nicholson has a a unique way of explaining things in his no-frills, down-to-earth, Yorkshire way.

"I think it should be very interesting tonight from a financial point of view", he says.

He was speaking to BBC Sport Online as he was about to take his bows before his testimonial match against Fiorentina.

"It just shows how many people are interested in Tottenham Hotspur first, and me second," he adds with a wry smile.

Of course, to a large extent he is right. The fans were anxious to see new signings Goran Bunjevcevic, Gus Poyet and Christian Ziege.

Nicholson waves to the crowd
35,000 pay their respects

But, even to those who are too young to remember Bill Nicholson's Glory Glory Days, when his Tottenham side achieved the first League and FA Cup double of the twentieth century, Bill Nic is an icon.

His name is ingrained into the Spurs psyche, just like Matt Busby at Old Trafford and Bill Shankly is at Anfield.

Numbered among those fans is Tottenham's new chairman Daniel Levy.

One of the first tasks he completed when he took over was, he says, his most enjoyable: to organise a Bill Nicholson testimonial.

"Bill Nicholson personifies Tottenham Hotspur", he says in the programme notes.

"He is all about the good things in the game. His teams played with bravado, style, skill and grace."

There may be a sense of partially righting a wrong too. Despite all his success, both as a player and a manager, the club never awarded Bill Nicholson a pension.

Nicholson on Bill Nicholson Way
The road to his football club now bears his name

Tottenham have not won the championship since he stepped down in 1974.

When he won the Double in 1961, he had assembled a talented group of individuals who, by good coaching and shrewd buying, were welded into one of the great teams of the age.

"There was no particular secret to it," says Nicholson.

"When you've got a good team, you're winning more often and you know that if you keep winning, you might win something."

But many of his players dismiss his modesty.

Cliff Jones, who played right-wing in the Double side, once asked him for a rise. Nicholson asked why he thought he deserved it.

"I told him I thought I was the best winger in Europe, perhaps the world," says Jones.

" He simply said 'that's a matter of opinion, now shut the door on your way out.'

"But my respect and admiration for him just grew the more I saw of him. He knew more about the game than anyone I ever met."

Nicholson knew so much about the game because he was a footballer himself, once earning a cap for England.

What's more, he played his club football for Tottenham, 344 appearances in fact.

Bill Nicholson smiling
Nicholson has dedicated his life to Tottenham

There is an obvious comparison with the present manager Glenn Hoddle, whom Nicholson signed as a youngster and who is also idolised at the Lane.

The old man says of his young protégé: "I hope that he finds that the players he's got are good.

"I'd have to say also they've got to be good enough,.but there's no reason why I think he should not succeed, because of his knowledge and ability".

Hoddle, for his part, replies: "If I can achieve 50 per cent of what Bill Nicholson achieved for this club, I'll be a very happy man."

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