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Football and the First World War

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Pat Jennings

 

One of the greatest goalkeepers of his generation, Northern Ireland's Pat Jennings played at the very highest levels of the game for some twenty years.

Born in Newry, Jennings began as a player of Gaelic football before joining Newry Town in 1963. Within a year he had transferred to Third Division Watford and made his international debut for Northern Ireland. 

Jennings signed for Tottenham in 1964 and in 1967 was a member of the team that beat Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup Final.  Subsequent honours included two League Cup winners' medals and a UEFA Cup winners' medal in 1972.

He was Footballer of the Year in 1973 and Players' Player of the Year in 1976.  After fourteen years at Tottenham, Jennings was considered past his prime by the club and sold to rivals Arsenal.  His career revived and he  won a second FA Cup winners' medal in 1979.

Jennings returned to Tottenham in 1985, having become the first British player to notch-up 1000 first class appearances.

In the latter part of his career, Jennings played in two World Cup tournaments including the famous victory over Spain in 1982.  He made his final appearance for Northern Ireland in the 1986 tournament when he won his 119th cap, a record at the time.

One of the most celebrated events of his career was the goal he scored from a goal kick in the Charity Shield against Manchester United in 1967.  Jennings put his success down to the size of his hands (dubbed the Largest Hands in Soccer).  One of the popular figures in the game, writer and broadcaster Eamon Dunphy once declared, 'Somewhere in there the grace of a ballet dancer joins with the strength of an SAS squaddie, the dignity of an ancient king, the nerve of a bomb disposal officer'.