Terry Venables was a passionate soccer coach who had the ability to make each player feel like a superstar.


There was a successful singing career at the club. The author wrote a series of detective novels. A clothing store was located in Chelsea. A popular board game was released. A variety of women’s wigs were available. A chain of pubs was established. A ticket agency was also in operation. Additionally, football played a major role in Venables’ life, as he held various positions including player, coach, manager, chief executive, owner, adviser, and pundit. Venables’ desire to excel in all areas proved to be both his success and downfall.

He was the only child in his family and had a limited ability to focus, but he had a strong drive to succeed and was able to connect with others. He was highly regarded as a friend and leader, skilled at creating successful football teams. He had a mix of practical and idealistic qualities, deeply rooted in the history of the sport, yet also viewing it as part of the entertainment world. He desired fame, wealth, love, and victory.

In every aspect, it must be noted that he had both successes and failures. His business endeavors often faced obstacles, while his accomplishments in football were bright but short-lived. His popularity also varied greatly throughout the years. So what is left of this remarkable life, which ended at 80 years old? History tends to overlook statistics, negative press coverage, and financial issues. Ultimately, what remains is the impact he had on others and how he made them feel.

During his time at Queens Park Rangers, he will be known for restoring pride to a small club in West London. At Barcelona, he is remembered as the unconventional foreign coach who ended their ten-year title drought and brought them back as a dominant team. For England fans who were alive and aware in 1996, he is credited with orchestrating the second memorable summer of love, filled with nostalgic moments and intense feelings that stirred the nation in a way that only Alf Ramsey’s World Cup-winning team and Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses have been able to do since.

A young Pep Guardiola (left) looking up at Barcelona manager Terry Venables after their European Cup semi-final triumph against IFK Gothenburg in 1986.

Venables was known for his ability to build strong teams, with players such as Paul Gascoigne, Bernd Schuster, Gary Lineker, and Tony Currie. Despite the individual talent, Venables prioritized creating a sense of teamwork and making each player feel like a star. In a time where managers were often dictatorial, Venables stood out for his approach of offering support and communicating with players on their level, using his skills to enhance theirs.

Venables is not associated with a specific intellectual school or coaching lineage, nor is he known for a particular strategy or approach. However, his impact goes beyond what many realize. The popular 4-3-2-1 “Christmas Tree” formation that he used with the England team was later adapted successfully by Aime Jacquet’s French team, who won the 1998 World Cup. His innovative training sessions were highly regarded by players and even imitated by George Graham at Arsenal. Set-piece plays were carefully planned and practiced with the same fluidity and creativity as a well-crafted piece of music.

During his time in Barcelona, he combined the passionate nature of English football with the stylish flair of Catalan football. He led his team through a tough training camp in Andorra and spent countless hours studying game footage. Through this, he developed a fast-paced pressing style of play that would awaken a dormant powerhouse and ultimately become the foundation for their future success. One of his most dedicated followers was a young midfielder from La Masia named Josep Guardiola, who was inspired by Venables’ arrival to develop a lifelong interest in English football.

Ten years later, during a period when English football was still fixated on the concept of a dominant, alpha-male center-back, Venables had faith in an intriguing and well-rounded Aston Villa defender named Gareth Southgate. In many respects, Southgate’s journey to the pinnacle of English football can be traced back to Venables, who recognized the ability of a talented international coach to utilize patriotism and loyalty to build a team that exceeded the individual talents of its players.

Despite his contributions, Venables was never fully recognized during his career. Despite England’s success in Euro 96, the public’s admiration for him was always tempered in some way. This is due in part to English football’s reluctance to embrace new concepts, its uneasy connection with fame, and its doubt towards the unapologetic self-confidence that Venables embodied. The Football Association was never fully supportive of him as England manager, attempting to restrict his actions while in the position, and ultimately pushing him to leave.

Terry Venables as assistant coach with England

Venables’s most memorable moment as a coach was also his final one, which may be the reason why. He was relatively young at 53 years old when he stepped down from the England job, but he did not have much success afterwards. In 1998, the long-standing accusations of financial wrongdoing against him came to a head as he faced 19 charges of serious misconduct and was banned from being a company director for seven years. His attempts at coaching in Australia, Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough, and Leeds all proved unsuccessful, as did his ill-fated attempt to take over Portsmouth. He spent his later years on the Costa Blanca, but none of these endeavors were significant enough to merit more than a passing mention.

During his childhood, Venables spent six tumultuous years at Tottenham, which represented both his conflicting sides – the businessman and the romantic, the savior and the troublemaker. The club encompassed all of his aspirations – thrilling football and a position on the board, a playground where he could freely roam on both the training ground and in terms of finances. He saved the club from insolvency, guided them to victory in the 1991 FA Cup, but eventually had a falling out with his takeover partner, Alan Sugar. He left amid accusations of financial mismanagement and burnt bridges, having aimed for everything but ultimately gaining nothing.

After thirty years, the fixation on Venables’ financial matters seems outdated compared to the current dominance of government control, publicly-funded investments, and wealthy individuals who remain unseen. It is true that he took on more than he could handle. He also made unwise choices, placed trust in the wrong individuals, and placed too much emphasis on his own charm. At times, he displayed a distasteful greed, drawn in by the temptation of making a quick profit and gaining attention. It’s likely that he took on too many roles to excel in any of them: athlete, coach, manager, and public figure.

However, the root of his numerous imperfections was a straightforward and genuine ideology: a concept of football as a cohesive entity, encompassing everything from the messy field to the executive office, managed by individuals who had a passion for the sport and were invested in its future, motivated by an enterprising mentality and overflowing with self-confidence. A vision where players truly had the ability to excel in all aspects. Sadly, this vision perished long before he passed away.

Source: theguardian.com