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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 October, 2004, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
The life of Mr Tottenham Hotspur
Former Spurs manager Bill Nicholson

Bill Nicholson more than earned the right to be mentioned in the same sentence as managerial legends Bill Shankly, Brian Clough and Sir Matt Busby.

In fact, it could be argued that Nicholson and his Tottenham side of the Glory Glory 60s laid the path for others to follow.

Under Nicholson, Spurs were the first team in modern times to win the elusive League and Cup Double, and subsequently went on to become the first British club to win a European trophy.

And whatever Spurs won under Nicholson, they won with a flair, panache and attacking elan that belied their manager's quiet, unprepossessing and blunt Yorkshire manner.

Bill Nicholson served his beloved Tottenham Hotspur FC for more than 60 years as a player, coach, manager and scout, and stamped his image over the club.

William Nicholson was born in Scarborough in January 1919, the eighth in a family of nine children.

His formative football while working in a laundry was with Scarborough Working Mens' Club and Scarborough Liberals.

Nicholson with Blanchflower
Nicholson with Spurs' legend Danny Blanchflower

Spotted by scout Ben Ives, he joined the Spurs ground staff at 16.

His initial career as an inside-forward was interrupted by the Second World War and on the resumption of football, Nicholson converted to a half-back, making more than 400 appearances for Spurs.

Nicholson was an integral part of the team that won promotion as Second Division champions in 1950, and followed it with the First Division title the following season.

Despite being one of the best half-backs of his generation, Nicholson won just one cap for England, scoring on his debut against Portugal.

When his playing days ended Spurs were keen to use his astute football brain and after giving him a coaching role, he succeeded Jimmy Anderson as manager in 1958.

His first match in charge of Tottenham set the template for his reign, a swashbuckling 10-4 win over Everton.

Nicholson's gift was his eye for a player and his ability to blend silk with steel.

We did nothing. We didn't play. We didn't even start to play
Bill Nicholson on his historic Cup win in 1961

To the intelligence of Danny Blanchflower he added the silken skills of John White, and the sheer drive and determination of Dave Mackay, perhaps Nicholson's favourite player and arguably his most important signing.

They provided the heart of the Spurs team that created history in 1961 by lifting the Championship and FA Cup for the first time since Aston Villa in 1897.

Nicholson kept Spurs among the forefront of English clubs by bringing in top talent, notably the predatory goalscoring skills of Jimmy Greaves but also players such as Terry Venables, Alan Mullery and Mike England, and twice broke the British transfer record with the acquisition of Martin Chivers and Martin Peters.

While the Championship eluded Spurs after the Double year, Nicholson ensured that cups were regularly lifted, including three more FA Cups, two League Cups and the Uefa Cup in 1974.

Unlike outspoken contemporaries such as Shankly, Nicholson retained a low profile, Even as manager of one of the country's biggest clubs, he chose to live in a small house just round the corner from White Hart Lane.

Nicholson was always aware and fiercely protective of Tottenham's reputation for entertaining football and image as ambassadors.

Bill Nicholson Way
A lasting tribute to Bill Nicholson

His low profile cloak was dramatically cast aside before the away leg of the Uefa Cup final against Feyenoord in Rotterdam, when rioting Spurs fans had caused more than 200 injuries.

As violence continued inside the stadium, Nicholson was prompted to appeal for calm over the public address system, his anger and disgust spilling out in the now famous comment: "You people make me feel ashamed to be an Englishman."

Nicholson resigned later that year, but in 1976, Spurs tempted him back with the role of chief scout.

He was later honoured with his appointment as club president in 1991, and a bust of him was erected in the main stand.

In 1999, an approach road to his beloved White Hart Lane was officially named Bill Nicholson way, a lasting tribute to a man who dedicated more than 60 years of his life to Tottenham Hotspur, and whose legend will live on at the Lane.

Tribute: John Motson remembers the life of Bill Nicholson

Interview: Former Spurs player Martin Chivers

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