Last Sunday afternoon Alan Gilzean made a welcome return to White Hart Lane after many years absence. He graced the pitch for Spurs from 1964 to 1974 making over 400 appearances and scoring 133 goals. Since retiring from football he has chosen to keep out of the spotlight preferring to enjoy a private life away from the game. Last Sunday at half-time during Tottenham’s win over West Ham United, Gilzean was welcomed to pitch-side where he was introduced to the crowd before a short interview.
Alan Gilzean was a great favourite of Tottenham supporters during his time at White Hart Lane. On his arrival from Dundee he developed an immediate understanding with Jimmy Greaves. He was a member of the 1967 FA Cup winning team and it was his goals which got the Cup run started. After surviving a goal-less 3rd Round tie at Millwall, it was Gilzean who scored the only goal of the replay at White Hart Lane.
Jan. 1967: Millwall made it difficult for Spurs in the replay at White Hart Lane and saw two chances cleared off the Spurs line. Only a goal scored by Alan Gilzean separated the two teams and that came when Jimmy Greaves intercepted a back-pass to the goalkeeper who blocked his shot but the ball fell to Gilzean to knock into an empty net.
In the next tie at home to Portsmouth Gilzean scored the first two goals early in the second half.
Feb. 1967: Tottenham had to fight to get past Portsmouth and again found it difficult against opponents they were expected to turn aside with ease. After a scoreless opening period Gilzean headed the first goal seven minutes into the second half and a minute later added the second. Ten minutes on Greaves scored an exquisite third while Portsmouth had to settle for a late consolation.
Gilzean also scored in the 6th Round replay as Spurs defeated Birmingham City 6 – 0 at White Hart Lane.
In the early 1970s Gilzean established an excellent and very productive partnership with Martin Chivers and Martin Peters. He continued to be a regular goal scorer but also turned his unique heading ability to good use as the creator of many goals for his two partners. Gilzean was able to flick the ball on with a very deft touch providing goals for the two Martins. That successful combination was an essential part of Tottenham’s success as they claimed two League Cup wins and a UEFA Cup victory.
In Search of Alan Gilzean
It is great to see Gilzean looking so well and willing to return to Tottenham and White Hart Lane. A few years ago concerns were raised on the internet about Alan Gilzean’s health and whereabouts with rumours which thankfully proved to be unfounded. Following up on those concerns, James Morgan, a sports journalist with the The Herald newspaper in Glasgow wrote an excellent book, ‘In Search of Alan Gilzean’ as he tried to find out the truth about Gilzean. The book which was published in 2010 is a great read and provided much of the background to Gilzean’s success before he joined Tottenham.
Morgan’s research was extensive and he used his numerous contacts as a journalist to speak to former friends, colleagues and acquaintances of Gilzean in his endeavours to discover the truth. Everyone whom he spoke to regarded Gillie highly – in awe at his talent as a player and of his generosity as a person. His former colleagues recounted many stories of his playing days both north and south of the border and they regretted having lost touch with him and asked the author to pass on their best wishes to Alan if he managed to track him down.
Today, many sporting biographies detail the sensational lifestyle of a celebrity sportsman to shock the public and grab a striking headline for the newspaper serialisation. James Morgan wrote this book about Alan Gilzean as a fitting tribute to the private man who displayed an exceptional talent as a player for Dundee, Tottenham Hotspur and Scotland.
The author did a great job weaving the past detail of Gilzean’s career with his search for the great man and his struggle to keep his emotions as a Spurs’ supporter in control was clearly evident as he met some of his past heroes for the first time so that his journalistic endeavours would be rewarded.