Terry Venables, known to many as ‘El Tel,’ led England to the semi-finals of Euro ‘96 in a distinguished management career
Former England football manager Terry Venables, for years one of the most buoyant personalities in British sport, has died at the age of 80 after a long illness, his family confirmed on Sunday.
Despite a playing career that saw him make more than 500 league appearances for clubs including Chelsea between 1960 and 1974, the smooth-talking, Essex-born Venables was best known for his work in the manager’s dugout.
In a coaching career which saw him ply his trade from London to Barcelona, through Australia, and back home again, Venables will be best remembered for guiding the English national team to the semi-finals of Euro ‘96 on home soil. It was, at the time, arguably England’s best performance in a major international tournament in three decades.
“We are totally devastated by the loss of a wonderful husband and father who passed away peacefully yesterday after a long illness,” a statement released by the Venables family said on Sunday. “We would ask that privacy be given at this incredibly sad time to allow us to mourn the loss of this lovely man who we were so lucky to have had in our lives.”
Venables emerged from the murky, hooligan-ridden football landscape that was England in the 1980s to take the top job at Barcelona in 1984 – a rare export from the English game who flourished abroad. He won the Spanish top division in 1985, with the British media subsequently nicknaming him ‘El Tel’ due to his exploits in La Liga.
He returned to England in 1987 to take charge of Tottenham Hotspur where, armed with English football’s brightest stars at the time – Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne – he won the FA Cup in 1991.
Lineker, whom he had first signed for Barcelona, was among those who paid tribute soon after news of Venables’ passing was made public. “Devastated to hear that Terry Venables has died,” Lineker wrote on social media on Sunday. “The best, most innovative coach that I had the privilege and pleasure of playing for.”
After leaving the England job in the late summer of 1996, Venables took on a succession of brief roles, including the Australian national team job, as well as a trio of other posts in the English domestic league. His last managerial game came for Leeds United in March 2003.
In a statement, Tottenham Hotspur said they would mark Venables’ passing ahead of their fixture on Sunday against Aston Villa. “Our deepest condolences are with Terry’s friends and family at this incredibly difficult time,” the club said, adding that the players will wear black armbands and observe a minute’s silence before kick-off.