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Bill Nicholson was Spurs' most successful manager and also one of England's greatest post-war managers, along with Matt Busby, Bill Shankly, and Alf Ramsey.
He was born on 26 January 1919 at Scarborough, Yorkshire. Bill managed to pass the scholarship examination to Scarborough high school. He had little interest in academic studies, and never thought of playing football as a career. He left at sixteen to go into a local laundry where he worked for six months for £2 a week.
Bill was playing local football at the beginning of 1936 for the Young Liberals when he was invited by Spurs for a trial. After a month's trial Nicholson was taken on as a ground staff boy, again on £2 a week. He was 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighed 10 stone and 12 pounds, and was then playing as an inside forward (he later moved to left back). After two years, in August 1938, he became a professional player, appearing eight times in the first team before the outbreak of the Second World War. In 1939 he joined the Durham light infantry and served for six and a half years, working as an infantry training instructor and then in the Army Physical Training Corps, rising to the rank of sergeant.
Under Nicholson, Spurs won another FA cup in 1967 and a second European trophy (the UEFA cup) in 1972, as well as the league cup in 1971 and 1973. In all, during his sixteen years as Spurs manager, he won eight major trophies. Throughout this time he never signed a contract, and continued to live in the same modest semi-detached house, just ten minutes from the ground.
Nicholson announced his retirement as manager in September 1974. He felt he had had enough and done enough. Following a short spell at West Ham United as a scout Nicholson returned to Spurs in 1976, on the scouting side, and as a consultant. In 1975 he was appointed OBE and in 1998 received the freedom of the borough of Haringey. In 1991 he was appointed club president and eight years later the little road off Tottenham High Road that leads to the main entrance to the club was renamed Bill Nicholson Way.
He died of prostate cancer at Potters Bar Community Hospital, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, on 23 October 2004. Paying tribute to him the legendary Dave Mackay, pointed out: 'Most of his criticisms revolved around his desire to see us play good football. That was what helped make playing for him so enjoyable. Bill is up there with the best managers.'