Northern Ireland

Danny Blanchflower: Blue plaque honours NI and Spurs footballer

Danny Blanchflower, one of Northern Ireland's greatest footballers, has been honoured with a commemorative plaque in his native city of Belfast.

He captained Tottenham Hotspur in the 1960s as they won the League, the FA Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup.

He also made 56 appearances as a Northern Ireland international and later managed the team.

The Ulster History Circle has marked the late player's achievements with a blue plaque at his childhood home.

Image caption Belfast-born Danny Blanchflower captained the Northern Ireland football team and had glittering career with north London club Tottenham Hotspur

The unveiling ceremony, at Grace Avenue in east Belfast, was attended by members of his family and high-profile figures from the sport.

'Footballer of the Year'

Former Northern Ireland and Spurs goalkeeper, Pat Jennings, and football world governing body Fifa vice president Jimmy Boyce were among the guests who gathered to pay tribute to the man who was twice named England's Footballer of the Year.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Pat Jennings attended the plaque unveiling, along with members of Danny Blanchflower's family

Robert Dennis Blanchflower - who became known as Danny - was born in Belfast in 1926. He grew up as the eldest of five children in the Bloomfield area in the east of the city.

The family lived at a number of houses in Belfast, but Blanchflower wrote about Grace Avenue as being the first place he kicked a ball.

'Double victory'

As a teenager during the Second World War, the apprentice electrician lied about his age in order to join the Royal Air Force (RAF). He trained as a navigator in Scotland and Canada.

At the end of the war, he began his professional football career with the east Belfast club, Glentoran.

After four years with the Glens, he moved to England, playing for both Barnsley and Aston Villa before moving to his best known club, Tottenham Hotspur.

One of the highlights of his glittering 10-year career with the north London club was captaining the side to a double victory during the 1960-61 season, when Spurs won both the League and FA Cup.

'Greatest player'

He made at total of 382 appearances for Tottenham, scoring 21 goals, including a penalty in the 1962 FA Cup final.

In his penultimate year with the club, Blanchflower captained Spurs to victory over Atletico Madrid in the final of the 1963 European Cup Winners' Cup.

In 2009, the midfielder was ranked by The Times as the greatest player in the history of Tottenham Hotspur.

The Belfast man was also among a rare group of players to have been awarded the title of English Footballer of the Year twice, winning in both 1958 and 1961.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Blanchflower was ranked by The Times as the greatest player in the history of Tottenham Hotspur

He played for Northern Ireland between 1949 and 1963 and his teammates included his brother, Jackie Blanchflower.

Danny was captain of the squad when they reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 1958.

Forced to retire from the sport with a knee injury, he briefly managed the Northern Ireland international team and then Chelsea.

'Magnetic personality'

He later moved into journalism and broadcasting, working for Yorkshire Television and writing for the Sunday Express.

He was the only person ever to refuse to take part in the This is Your Life programme, dismissing host Eamonn Andrews on live television in the 1960s.

Blanchflower died from pneumonia in 1993, at the age of 67.

The Ulster History Circle has described him as "a superb player, a canny tactician, an incurable romantic and maverick sage - a man with a magnetic personality who dominated any room into which he walked".

Image caption The Spurs captain was interviewed on the BBC's Face to Face programme in 1962

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