My game in my words. By Glenn Hoddle
Glenn Hoddle was perhaps the most naturally gifted English footballer of his generation.
An elegant two-footed midfielder with a wonderful passing range and an eye for a spectacular goal, he spent the majority of his career with boyhood club Tottenham Hotspur before moving to Monaco, where he won Ligue 1 under the management of Arsene Wenger. Hoddle later returned to England with spells at Swindon and Chelsea, both as player-manager.
He also won 53 England caps — not enough, according to many, including Michel Platini, who said he would have won 100 if he’d been French. Unappreciated in his own country at the time but revered by many of Europe’s footballing greats, this, to mark the upcoming BT Sport documentary Glenn Hoddle: Extra Time about his life, is Hoddle’s game — in his own words.
Stoke 1-2 Tottenham, February 1976
Right, so you know this one, your first ever goal…
I do. Stevie Perryman puts it in there. John Pratt there (on the edge of the box), he used to coach me when I was 12, when he was doing his badges at White Hart Lane, and he’s gone, “Hit it, Hod!” and I thought, “Yeah, why not?”
I haven’t seen that for years. I didn’t feel it, it just came off my foot like a cricketer hits it in the middle of the bat and doesn’t even feel it in his hands, it’s like “bang”, it’s just… I didn’t feel it, the power was coming back towards me, I remember just getting my technique right. It’s like a cricketer, or a golfer, it just flew off my foot, almost like a spring.
Is this laces or a firm sidefoot?
No, this is laces, if you see it again, I drove right through it. It was about keeping my balance as it comes, bouncing, bouncing, through the laces.
Are you aiming for the far corner here?
Yeah, there’s so many bodies there. As I hit it, I’m just thinking about getting the technique right. And I know that… Peter Shilton, isn’t it…had been on the floor, but I knew the opening was there, the near side was blocked, I have to go across the keeper.
You think, if that’s gonna happen on my debut… please let me get a perfect strike on it. And I did, because if I just mishit that a little bit, it doesn’t end up in the net. Look at my sideboards!
Tottenham 1-2 Manchester United, December 1979
You said you hadn’t seen the last one for a while, but this one is still on television a lot.
Oh, I like this one. Ossie (Ardiles) gives it back to me just a bit too high, but it makes it more spectacular! Yeah. I can’t split the Watford chip or this one as my best goal. This one, I must admit… I’ve never been on drugs before, never, but I felt something in the adrenaline in my body that was incredible, in that moment. I felt as if I could jump the stadium, it was really weird.
Around the corner, and I’m in the air, look, two feet. And then that feeling as it hit the net, I’ve not had that too many times in my life, and that was the first time.
It’s such a unique goal, but whenever I see clips of you playing in that Spurs side, you and Ardiles are playing one-twos like this all the time.
Yeah, yeah, and Ricky Villa. And that’s what happened, when they came. It took a while, we had to get the forwards sorted out, and then Steve Archibald and Garth Crooks came, then the team was complete. When Ossie and Ricky came, it was evident we were on the same wavelength straight away. In the (upcoming BT) documentary, Ossie brought it up — we played for 10 years together. I probably played more games with Ossie than anyone, and vice-versa.
That’s me going, “Calm down”! I’d just felt like I was on drugs!
Tottenham 1-0 Nottingham Forest, October 1979
This is the best Route One goal ever, isn’t it?
Well this is unlike Tottenham’s style — the ball doesn’t touch the floor. This was my 21st birthday, I think. You know what’s interesting? Watching them now, back to back, it’s almost at the same bloody spot as the Man United volley. About a yard’s difference, I reckon. What do you reckon, maybe a bit closer?
They feel like the same goal.
And this was only a few weeks apart.
Shilton again! You scored some crackers against him.
Yeah, I did remind Shilts, when we got to England squads. I just make a run off the back of the defender. If you’re analysing this now, as a pundit, you say, ‘He let me run’. It’s so similar isn’t it, my body action, to the Man United one?
The interesting thing here is, at full speed it looks like a mid-air volley, like both your feet are in the air. But when you hit it, your left foot is still planted. It comes up afterwards. Is that to keep it down?
Yeah, that’s true actually. I think I knew I had to keep it down. I’ve never analysed this goal like that! But now you’re saying that, and I’m looking at it, because I’m getting closed by Frankie Gray, I wasn’t allowed to let it drop. If it drops another two inches, he gets a block in. It’s split-seconds, instinct, and I think I did actually jump to get it to stay down. If I’d let it drop more, it would have been easier, but he was coming out to block it.
As you say, in slow motion it looks like my foot’s on the floor, but in actual fact, I’m taking off, because a split-second after I’m hitting it, I’m in the air. I’m taking off, I’ve got to take it early. But to be honest, I’ve never thought of that until we’ve analysed it now…
England 2-0 Bulgaria, November 1979
This next one’s your first England goal. You must remember this one well…
I can’t ever forget this. To play for England is one thing, but to score on your debut…
This was a sidefoot. I scored a lot of sidefoot goals actually, because I felt I had the technique to do it, and you’re taking away the jeopardy because you’re smothering it with a bigger part of your foot. This, I thought it was a half-volley but it’s actually like a volley with the inside of the foot. Trevor Francis lays this back, and as it comes back, I’ve got one thought — I knew exactly where I was going with it.
We’ve seen two great hits from range so far, one with your left and one with your right. Were you completely 50:50?
Oh, I could do that when I was eight. I don’t mean that arrogantly, but at seven or eight I was left and right-footed.
Was that something you had to work on?
No, when I was five or six in the garden, I could do it with both feet. But because I loved the game so much, I put all the hours in as well… no that’s wrong, I didn’t “put them in”, I was just a football nut, I just played football hour after hour after hour.
Tottenham 2-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers, April 1981
This is a big goal for us, a semi-final, 1-1. This is a great feeling. It’s a nice free kick, but I took a chance, because I had free kicks and scored around the wall, but I had a gut feeling that the goalie… I think it was Paul Bradshaw… was gonna go (to his left). Because if he stays there, he’s gonna save it. And I had this gut feeling that I was gonna body shape to whip it in here (to the right)…
…but in the end, I felt he was gonna go early, so I whipped it back into his side of the goal. And as a pundit, analysing, he’s probably in the wrong position at the beginning, he should be over to his right a little bit.
And if I beat the wall, I beat the wall, he can’t do much about it. But he has to save this side. And I think you find he steps across, and I just whip it back the other way… yeah! His left foot’s gone, look.
From the body shape, I think you’re going the other side…
Exactly, that’s exactly what went through my mind, I think I might have even… I don’t know if I did it on this one, but if I knew I was going that way, I would go up to Ossie or someone and I’d go like that (gestures dinking it over wall), and then I’d whip it back. But it was a hunch, a gut feeling.
And you don’t even have to put it in the corner, because you’ve done the keeper…
I’ve done the keeper, yeah, he’s gone beyond the wall… it’s funny, until you analyse it… I’m analysing it like I’m on telly as a pundit!
Hungary 0-3 England, October 1983
We didn’t practise that routine. I just said to Robbo (Bryan Robson) and Sammy Lee at the last minute, “Come and stand in front so the goalkeeper can’t get his timing right.”
It was all off the cuff, that bit there… I just said, “Make sure you move guys. Move!”
Yeah that’s lovely, right in the top corner. Yeah, I like that one.
These ones, commentators say that it’s too close to get it up and down…
I actually think it’s easier now — the balls are lighter, you don’t have to hit them so hard. You’re right, I’ve got it up and down quickly. It’s about not trying to hit it too hard. When I was closer in, it’s about accuracy, and where the keeper is. It’s about curl to go away from him, taking it away. Your main thing is to beat the wall, and he’s gone one side… it’s a bit of a conundrum, why we have a wall sometimes. If the goalie’s stood in the middle, without a wall, you’d find it hard to beat him, maybe not there (for this goal) but further out. If you did 20 free kicks in training you might score one or two.
If you say, “Go and stand next to that post”, he’d say, “Don’t be stupid”, he wouldn’t do it. But when there’s a wall, you do it. If you go over the wall, the wall’s no good anyway.
When you look at players now, the best free-kick taker in the Premier League now is James Ward-Prowse, he’s got a lot of finesse, but you see a lot of the Cristiano Ronaldo technique, which doesn’t seem that effective…
I think the Ronaldo one happens because the ball’s lighter, and they hit the valve. Whereas in my day, that’s last thing I would do. I would always find the valve and put it at the top so it was nowhere near your foot. But these lighter balls go. I still think if you had 100 free kicks, trying to dip it all the time, or curling it around the wall, I think the curler would still outdo it. No disrespect to Ronaldo, one of the best players in the world, but his ratio… I think you get more control by wrapping your foot around it.
Watford 2-3 Tottenham, September 1983
Here’s the classic. This was always going to be in here.
Now this one, I’m not being funny now, I don’t know where that came from. I’ll tell you what — I was having a shocker. I was not playing at all well, honest to God. That was one of the things with me, it didn’t matter, if I mishit a pass, it wouldn’t stop me trying to hit a killer pass the next time. I’m playing poorly, why would I try something like that? But that was me, it didn’t matter to me. I don’t know where it came from, I’d never done that in training.
Some people say it was like a Cruyff turn, but the ball’s already under your control when you’re doing that. This one’s travelling towards me. I don’t know why I’m in that centre-forward position, must have been a set play or something.
How early do you know you’re going to chip it?
As soon as I’ve done the skill. My theory was that when the ball is running in front of you, away from you, it’s so difficult to chip, to get it up and down. But when the shot’s at an angle, particularly on that side, you’ve got an extra three or four yards to play that.
If I’m here (points to the “D”) and chipping the goalkeeper, I’ve got two yards. This way I’ve got six yards because it’s diagonal. It’s gonna go up and down. Because the ball’s running away on the side, there’s a bit of force to play with, if it’s running away from you, you’ve got to dig it in and generate it. If it’s coming towards you it’s hard, because you’re gonna get backspin, it’s gonna go too high, and it won’t come down in time.
And you don’t look up at the keeper.
I know where he is. He’s not gonna be standing at the far post. And I bet he steps a bit towards the near post.
If I pause it when you chip it, his right foot is up in the air. He’s got no chance of getting across.
Does he set himself, to plant his foot? Yeah, look. Both feet come off and plant themselves.
He’s almost crouching down.
He’s still trying to get it now! But it was the backspin, my lob wedge worked well that day, I wish it worked as well on the golf course.
Tottenham 4-2 Feyenoord, October 1983
I didn’t want it to be just goals. So I found this performance against Feyenoord.
Me and Chrissie (Hughton) — stop it there — we did that SO many times in our career together.
He said, “I’d be running, knowing you could play it”, because we did it all the time. We had this down to a T, because we’d played together since we were young. He was quick, he used to make this run in behind — give it to me and then go. He knew it was coming.
I’ll show you all four goals, because you’re involved in all of them. And you’re up against Cruyff here, in a more literal sense than you might have expected.
What am I doing on the right wing? Little one-two with Archie here. This is the bit there, just bought myself a little half-yard, pretend to cross it, he jumps. Is that Cruyff, trying to block it? Yeah, I think it is.
Am I right in saying he was man-marking you that day?
Which is weird…
Which was so weird. I mean, it only lasted ’til half-time, when we were 4-0 up. Then he came off me in the second half, and he scored a goal, and they won the second half 2-0! It was 4-2. What on earth was that all about? I don’t know whether that was Johan’s decision, or the manager’s decision, but it was a bizarre one.
He’s there again, look! Mabbs (Gary Mabbutt) gets it back, play it to Archie. I remember this game, one of my best games… we won the UEFA Cup that season, 1983-84.
The fourth was a nice one, Tony makes a nice run. God, brings it all back to you, doesn’t it?
Tottenham 3-1 Oxford, April 1987
This is my last goal at the Lane. The little dummy, yeah.
Do you how many touches I had in that move, from when I pick the ball up? Five touches of the ball. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it, I thought it was about 10. But one, two, three… little dummy, four, five.
If someone said to me that you’re gonna be at the club you supported as a kid, 12 and a half years, and you’re gonna write your own story, how would you like it to finish? I’d say, “Well, how about I pick the ball up in my own half, run through, go around the keeper and just blow a little kiss to the crowd to say thank you?” That was what happened. I was so lucky, so fortunate.
It’s the most effective dummy you’ll see…
I think he thinks I’m gonna hit it, yeah. Goes down, yeah, nice.
On to Monaco. Before I show you the video, let me show you this. World Soccer magazine from August 1987. You’re the cover star.
Never seen this before…
If you look at page eight, there’s a big feature on you going to Monaco, and it’s headlined…
“The colour of money”! Who wrote that? Might have been Mark’s reason for going, it wasn’t mine! I’ve never seen that before.
And on the back cover, a squad picture…
Look at that, yeah! That was a good team. Battiston, Amoros… where’s Claude, Claude Puel…? Yeah, there he is, Claude. Some of these guys… Remi, Amoros, Fofana, he was quick, Fofana…
You know, that team was like watching what Arsene (Wenger) did with Woolwich first year. They had Overmars which was (the equivalent of) Fofana. A winger. Centre-forward was Mark Hateley, I suppose he was Wrighty. Bergkamp just off, which was me playing off Mark, you had Dib and Rohr, these two were holding players, like Petit and Vieira, and then Ray Parlour was a replica of… where’s Jean Ferratge… can’t see him, he was only little, oh, here he is. So he played tucked in, but would break out, like Parlour would. It was a replica.
The only thing he did differently was this fella, the big centre-back (Remi Vogel). Most teams in France played one striker, so he man-marked the lone striker, and Battiston swept around him, a bit deeper, whereas Woolwich played a flat back four. But it was a bloody replica with the system.
Metz 0-3 Monaco, May 1989I’ve got two goals from your time at Monaco.
I wonder if you’ve got… oh, OK well, I do like this one as well. It’s the Watford one reversed.
And similar principles to what you said for that one.
You’re on the angle and the ball’s rolling. I’ve took it that way, I don’t know that (I’m gonna chip it) now, I’ve got no idea what I’m doing now.
But there, there, as soon as that goes off my right foot now, that’s on now, the chip. Things like that you don’t pre-ordain… it just happens like that.
Monaco 3-2 Auxerre, May 1988
Yeah, this is my best goal. I love this one. Go for the cross, then another one, oh, do it again, oh. See the goalkeeper? Thing is, because Mark Hateley was so good in the air, I think the keeper’s come out ready for the cross.
Doing the defender three times here…
I know. “He can’t do it again, surely, haha, oh you’re doing it, OK.” I don’t know who that was, but… oh dear. But that was my favourite goal I scored at Monaco, without a doubt. And the night we won the league.
We were talking about the Cruyff turn earlier. He said that it wasn’t showboating, it was just the most effective thing to do. That seems to be how you used trickery, for a purpose.
Oh absolutely. Everything in football has to have a purpose, in my opinion, that’s how I got brought up. I never showboated. I could have done so much more skill. I took a few liberties in training.
I did it once in my whole career, a game against Leicester at White Hart Lane where I played to the crowd, I did something and the whole place went nuts. I played for myself on that moment but other than that I never did it. If it was a bit of skill, it was for a purpose, it’s a team game. It didn’t always come off.
But a lot of players with skill did it on purpose, for themselves, for their own ego. But I had to have a purpose at the end of it, because that’s what it’s all about. You’ve got to have end product in football.
BT Sport will premiere Glenn Hoddle: Extra Time, the latest documentary in the award-winning BT Sport Films series, on December 8th at 10pm on BT Sport 1.