Former England manager Terry Venables passes away

The sad news of the former Tottenham Hotspur, England and Barcelona manager's passing was announced on Sunday afternoon.
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Former Tottenham Hotspur and England manager Terry Venables has passed away at the age of 80.

One of football’s great characters, Dagenham-born Venables enjoyed long spells with Chelsea, Spurs and Queens Park Rangers during his playing career before moving into the dugout by taking charge of Crystal Palace in 1976.

Former England manager Terry Venables has died at 80Former England manager Terry Venables has died at 80
Former England manager Terry Venables has died at 80

After leading the Selhurst Park club to two promotions in three seasons, Venables moved to another of his former clubs when he took charge of Queens Park Rangers in the early months of the 1980/81 season.

An FA Cup Final defeat against Tottenham during his second season in charge and a promotion into English football’s top tier in May 1983 captured the attention of Barcelona and he accepted an offer to take charge at the Camp Nou in the summer of 1984.

After leading the Catalan giants to a La Liga title, a Copa de la Liga win and to the European Cup Final during a three-year stay in Spain, Venables returned to England with Tottenham in November 1987 and led his former club to a historic FA Cup win in 1991.

Venables was named as successor to former England manager Graham Taylor following the Three Lions failure to qualify for the World Cup Finals in the United States in 1994 and oversaw a turnaround in fortunes as his side looked for success when they hosted the European Championship Finals in 1996.

After coming through a group consisting of the Netherlands, Switzerland and Scotland, England progressed to the semi-finals with a penalty shoot-out win over Spain before suffering a familiar heartache as current manager Gareth Southgate missed a crucial spot-kick in shoot-out defeat against Germany.

Venables stepped down after the tournament but remained in the dugout after enjoying spells with Australia, Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough and Leeds United. His departure from Elland Road in March 2003 brought an end to a remarkable managerial career as Venables worked with the likes of Paul Gascoigne, Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Bernd Schuster during his time in the dugout.

A statement released by his family on Sunday lunchtime confirmed his sad passing at the age of 80 and preceded a number of tributes from former players, colleagues and the League Managers Association.

"We are totally devastated by the loss of a wonderful husband and father who passed away peacefully yesterday after a long illness," read the family statement.

"We would ask that privacy be given at this incredibly sad time to allow us to mourn the loss of this lovely man who we were so lucky to have had in our lives."

The League Managers Association said: "The LMA is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of LMA member and former LMA president Terry Venables. Our thoughts are very much with Yvette and all of Terry's family at this time."

Gary Lineker, who worked under Venables with Barcelona and Spurs, said: "Devastated to hear that Terry Venables has died. The best, most innovative coach that I had the privilege and pleasure of playing for. He was much more, though, than just a great manager, he was vibrant, he was charming, he was witty, he was a friend. He’ll be hugely missed. Sending love and condolences to Yvette and the family. RIP Terry."

Alan Shearer was fiercely defended by Venables during a barren run in front of goal ahead of Euro 96 before going to to be top scorer at the tournament described the former Three Lions manager as 'amazing'. Speaking via X (formerly Twitter), he said: "Extremely sad news the great Terry Venables has passed away. RIP Boss. I owe you so much. You were amazing."

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville, who was handed his England debut by Venables, paid an emotional tribute, saying: "So sorry to hear the news of my very first England coach, Terry Venables. A man who gave me a chance to play for my country and became without a shadow of doubt my number one England coach in my whole career."

The Football Association released a statement saying: "We are deeply saddened by the passing of former England manager Terry Venables, a true football icon. As one of the sport's most charismatic figures, he leaves behind a legacy that captured the imagination of many and enhanced the global reputation of the English game.

"Today our game mourns the loss of not only a great character but an innovative, forward-thinking manager who was an inspiration to a generation of English players and coaches."

A sad loss of a man that revitalised England's fortunes

England's failure to secure a place at the World Cup Finals in 1994 resulted in a real lull in expectation and belief in the national team - but that all changed under Venables as his self-confidence, belief in his methods and underrated tactical nous rubbed off an a squad he refreshed with a number of younger players.

Terry Venables led England to the semi-final of Euro 1996. (Getty Images)Terry Venables led England to the semi-final of Euro 1996. (Getty Images)
Terry Venables led England to the semi-final of Euro 1996. (Getty Images)

For football supporters of a certain age, Euro 96 remains on the most memorable summers of football witnessed as the Three Lions roared and football almost came home. Venables was the catalyst, as he brought the best out of the likes of Paul Gascoigne, Alan Shearer and Stuart Pearce and led his country to the last four of a major competition.

Penalty shoot-out heartache against Germany should have been the next step in a learning curve under Venables - but in reality it brought an end to the progress made as he left the role in the aftermath of the tournament.

Venables may well be remembered by many for his achievements as England manager, but it should be forgotten just how much success he enjoyed in the dugout during spells in charge of the likes of Tottenham, Crystal Palace, Queens Park Rangers and Barcelona. His move to Catalonia was almost unique, but he led the path that would be followed by the legendary Sir Bobby Robson years later.

An innovator, a leader and a player's manager - the world of football is a darker place for the loss of one of the true characters of the English game.