HotspurHQ’s Team Selection feature is looking to put together a Tottenham team composed of the best players Spurs fans have seen playing. This week we’re selecting the best two Tottenham full backs since the 1950s. The list is restricted to players who have made over 100 appearances for Tottenham, although again there is an exception.Tottenham have had some outstanding full back partnerships over the years but it is also a position where there have been many barren seasons where the full backs have been the weakest positions in the team. Twelve full backs are listed for your consideration and you will have the opportunity to select two players. Some of the players included played at both right back and left back while Steve Perryman played in midfield early in his career before moving to right back in his later years.
Tottenham Full Backs:
Alf Ramsey joined Tottenham from Southampton in the summer of 1949 as new manager Arthur Rowe put together the ‘Push and Run’ team which was to take Tottenham out of the 2nd Division as Champions and on to be 1st Division title winners for the first time in 1951. Ramsey was a cultured, footballing right back. He didn’t have a great deal of pace but was very accurate with his passing as the ‘Push and Run’ team played out from the back with goalkeeper, Ted Ditchburn regularly looking to play the ball out to Ramsey who would then start an attacking movement on the right through Bill Nicholson. Ramsey was a great thinker and managed Ipswich Town to the League title in 1962 and England to World Cup glory in 1966.
Peter Baker and his full back partner were two of the unsung heroes of the successful team of the early 1960s. Baker made over 300 appearances for Spurs and was almost an ever present through the early 1960s linking with Danny Blanchflower and covering for his captain when he moved forward in attack. Baker first played in 1952 but it was the mid-50s before he made the position his own. He was one of only three of the regular members of the team of the early 1960s who didn’t receive international recognition. He remained at Spurs until 1965 before moving to South Africa.
Ron Henry worked so well with Baker and was the first choice left back from 1959 to the mid-1960s. Like Baker he was a home grown player but it was an unfortunate injury to Mel Hopkins while on international duty for Wales in 1959 which gave Henry the chance to stake a claim for a regular place in the team. He made 287 appearances for Spurs but only scored one goal – a memorable winner against Manchester United at White Hart Lane in 1965. He made one international appearance for England, against France in Alf Ramsey’s first match as England manager.
Joe Kinnear came into the Tottenham team as a young player in April,1966. Injury to Phil Beal in February,1967 gave Kinnear the chance to establish himself in the team which went on to the FA Cup Final win over Chelsea where he put in a star performance. From then, apart from almost a year out with injury, Kinnear was the regular right back through the successful years of the early 1970s. A lively attacking full back, he developed a great partnership with Cyril Knowles.
Cyril Knowles joined Spurs from Middlesbrough in the summer of 1964 and from then until the mid-70s was first choice in the position. A player of total commitment there was nothing he liked better than to go marauding forward down the left wing. The ‘hard man’ of the team, Knowles was a very capable full back who was loved by the Tottenham fans and had his own song, “Nice One Cyril!”. An England international, he scored goals regularly including two against Leeds in 1975 as Spurs avoided relegation in the last match of the season.
Steve Perryman came into the Tottenham team in 1969 as a teenager playing in midfield. He brought energy, drive, skill and a work ethic to the successful team of the 1970s. In the late 70s he moved into defence and captained Keith Burkinshaw’s team to successive FA Cup wins from right back in 1981 and 1982.
Chris Hughton played in both full back positions and although right-footed, he preferred playing on the left. After Knowles’ departure, Spurs found it difficult to find a suitable replacement until Hughton was given his opportunity in 1979 and retained his place for the next ten seasons. He loved to raid forward on the left and contributed goals regularly, including scoring twice in Tottenham’s 5 – 0 win over Arsenal in 1983. A loyal servant to Tottenham as player, coach, assistant manager and caretaker manager.
Danny Thomas joined Tottenham in 1983 from Coventry City and looked set to have an outstanding career at White Hart Lane. A member of the 1984 UEFA Cup winning team, although it was he who missed Spurs’ fifth penalty and the oportunity to secure victory. Like most of the Totttenham full-backs he loved to get forward from his right back position and was a firm favourite at the club but his career was sadly cut short through injury in March, 1987. A year later he retired from football having failed to recover from the knee injury sustained against QPR.
Justin Edinburgh joined Tottenham from Southend United and played at right back in the FA Cup winning team of 1991. He was not everyone’s favourite during a difficult decade for Spurs but was still playing when Spurs won the Worthington Cup in 1999, although he was unfortunate to be sent off in the Final against Leicester City.
Stephen Carr came through the Tottenham youth system and was an outstanding success in the early years of his Spurs career. He was a very important member of the team in the late 1990s and with surging forward runs on the right he created many goals with crosses from the bye-line. Injury caused him to miss a complete season in 2001-02 but when he returned, he wasn’t the same player. The enthusiasm for playing for Spurs wasn’t there which annoyed supporters who had adored his attacking play. He left for Newcastle United in 2004.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto has been Tottenham’s most successful left back since the time of Hughton. After an uncertain start with Spurs he was out injured for a long period but has become more assured defensively and is an increasing threat going forward. BAE is a player who has over time grown on the hearts of Spurs’ supporters to become a ‘cult’ figure with varying hair styles, odd boots, his trademark drag back and his growing list of outstanding goals. A player, full of confidence as seen against Newcastle in 2011.
Kyle Walker has played at right back for the past two seasons and in a very successful first season he made his England debut and won the PFA Young Player of the Year award. An attacking full back with great pace, he works well with Aaron Lennon and earned his place in Spurs’ history with the winning goal against Arsenal at White Hart Lane in October,2011. He has made 98 appearances for Spurs in all competitions.
My choice of full backs would be for Cyril Knowles on the left but the choice for the right is more difficult with Kinnear, Carr and Hughton as contenders. Carr in his early days at White Hart Lane would be an option with Kinnear close behind in a very successful team but overall my selection would be Chris Hughton.
From the full-backs listed, please select the best two who you have seen playing. Let me know your views on Tottenham’s full-backs over the years.
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