With the Qatar World Cup nearly upon us, players will be ready and waiting to find out if they have made the cut for their countries. Tottenham have historically provided players for World Cup teams from England to Argentina and the Netherlands. Over 50 players from the lillywhites of North London have taken part in World Cups and the likes of Harry Kane have performed well at major tournaments but is he in Tottenham Hotspur’s top ten players in World Cup history?
World Cup History – Tottenham Hotspur’s Top Ten Players
10 – Cliff Jones, Wales
1958 saw the Tottenham Welsh wizard helping Wales to the World Cup with a hat trick against Israel. It was a hat trick that ensured Wales qualified for the World Cup for the first time in their history. His wing play, pace and trickery was well known from his time playing for Spurs and he was able to deliver on the World stage as well. His performances for Wales in Sweden took them to the quarter finals where they eventually lost out narrowly to Brazil and a winning goal from Pele. Jones was a star player for Tottenham and deserves his place in this top ten.
9 – Pat Jennings, Northern Ireland
It is fair to say that the World stage deserved to see much of the great goalkeeping legend that was Pat Jennings. A Tottenham legend, we shall ignore his hiatus to the other side of North London, Jennings was known for his large hands, one handed catches and an international career that spanned over 22 years.
It was perhaps fitting that Jennings final international game was in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico at the age of 41. This made him the oldest player at the time to take part. Sadly, he was beaten three times by Brazil but his career and standing means he still makes this top ten.
8 – Glenn Hoddle, England
Glenn Hoddle will always be one of Tottenham’s biggest legends. His passing, eye for a spectacular goal and free kicks made him a real fan favourite but some often maligned his play for not tackling back. That assertion has always over simplified Hoddle’s play. He was never in the team to defend. He was there to be the creative force of the team. He featured at both the 1982 and 1986 World Cup final. In the 1986 quarter final against Argentina, Hoddle was ‘fouled’ in the lead up to the second Diego Maradona goal but the officials allowed play to continue and the rest is as they say, is history.
Between 1996 and 1999, Hoddle managed England and in 1998 was felt to be one of the best coaches in the game and he left with a win rate of 60%.
6 – Martin Peters, England
Martin Peters was a vital part of the England World Cup winning team in 1966 but of course was not part of the Tottenham Hotspur squad at that time. He was however a Spurs player by the time England’s chance to retain the World Cup came round in 1970. Peters played in all three group games and gave England hope when he scored against West Germany. It was a typical Peters run as he evaded the back line and scored to give England a 2-0 lead. Peters was later taken off in a moment of madness from Alf Ramsey and Germany sealed a 3-2 win in extra time. Had that not happened, Peters could have helped England to World Cup glory once again, but alas, it was not to be.
5 – Harry Kane, England
The Republic of Ireland’s loss is definitely England’s gain. Harry Kane’s father was born in Galway but he made it clear from 2014 that England was his nation and who he would play for at international level. In his first World Cup in 2018, he was made captain and scored both goals against Tunisia. He then netted a hat trick in a 6-1 win over Panama. England eventually finished in 4th place and Kane was seen as being one of the best strikers in the world and he claimed the golden boot with his six goals. Kane is now Tottenham and England’s second highest goalscorer of all time and with the 2022 World Cup to come, his position at number five in this list is likely to change in time.
4 – Paul Gascoigne , England
Gazza in 1990 was a player that along with the tournament in Italy itself, helped to change the face of football. His tears will forever be remembered but his style of play and ability to take the game by the scruff of the neck was what makes him stand out as one of the finest players to grace a World Cup, albeit his future appearances would not arise due to a mixture of Glenn Hoddle’s lack of trust in the player for 1998 and failure to qualify in 1994.
Gascoigne’s through balls against Cameroon were perfect for Gary Lineker and his pass for David Platt to score against Belgium will live forever in the minds of England fans. Gazza deserves his high placing based on Italia ‘90 alone. It was a tournament and performance that in many ways summed him up. Charismatic, talented and always a moment away from genius or madness.
3 – Jimmy Greaves, England
England’s fifth highest goalscorer of all time is regarded as one of the best players produced by England and one of Tottenham Hotspur’s greatest ever strikers. It was in 1962 when Greaves’ grabbed his first cap at a World Cup finals, held in Chile. He scored once against Argentina before failing to net in the painful quarter final defeat to Brazil. It was the year that football ‘came home’ in 1966 that would give Greaves a winners medal (eventually) but also be a tournament that would frustrate the player.
Greaves was his usual busy self in each of the three opening group games but against France, disaster struck as he injured his shin and he didn’t play again in the tournament. He was fit enough to play when the final came around but Alf Ramsey wanted to keep a winning team and therefore Greaves misery was complete. The final victory turned out to be bitter sweet and it was only in 2010 that he finally received his World Cup winners medal.
Clinical, quick, fast, Greaves was World Cup defenders stuff of nightmares and he is worthy of being at number three in this list of Tottenham Hotspur’s top ten players to grace the World Cup stage.
2 – Gary Lineker, England
Lineker was the first English player to win the Golden Boot at a World Cup finals and his place at number two is borne of his impact at both the 1986 and 1990 World Cup finals in Mexico and Italy respectively. In 1986, against Poland, playing with a cast on his arm, Lineker scored the second fastest hat trick at a World Cup. Two more followed against Paraguay and he was the player that gave England hope against Argentina but history will always remember that quarter final for the ‘hand of God’ and the ‘goal of the century ‘ from Maradona that angered and broke English hearts in equal measure.
Lineker was on form again four years later at Italia ‘90. Four goals helped England to the semi finals where West Germany were once again the foes to beat. The West Germans took the lead when a shot deflected high off Paul Parker and over the despairing Peter Shilton. Parker made amends with a glorious cross field ball to Lineker who controlled the ball and scored into the corner. It felt like England’s moment may have at last arrived but once again but it was heartbreak on penalties. Lineker would go on to bring his brand of goal scoring to White Hart Lane and help Spurs win the 1991 FA Cup Final at Wembley. One of England’s finest players and a true professional.
1 – Osvaldo ‘Ossie’ Ardiles, Argentina
Choosing a top ten is always controversial and many factors have to be taken into account. Many Spurs fans may argue that certain players in this list weren’t Spurs players at the time they appeared in World Cups. That fact is that those linked with the club have often done their home nations proud and no more so than one Ossie Ardiles.
The 1978 World Cup was played against a lot of political uncertainty in the South American Country but the tournament itself was still played against an absolute frenzy of loud crowds with ticker tape covering pitches all over the continent as games were played. Ardiles started the final against the Netherlands in front of 77,000 partisan fans and earned his World Cup winners medal. His quick passing, low center of gravity and ability to open up space for the likes of Mario Kempes made Ardiles an integral part of that World Cup winning squad. Ardiles went on to the 1982 finals but for Argentina this time, the outcome was one of failiure.
After that 1978 World Cup, Ardiles and compatriot Ricky Villa join Tottenham Hotspur and both would prove to be a vital part of the 1981 FA Cup final win over Manchester City.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Top Ten Players – Who Would You Choose?
Who would you have in your top ten and why? Don’t forget to let us know in the comments.
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