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Darren Anderton expressed his heartfelt condolences for Terry Venables following the news of the former England manager’s death at the age of 80.
Venables, who served as England’s manager from 1994 to 1996, passed away on Saturday following a prolonged illness.
The well-known coach had a diverse career that involved coaching for Barcelona. During his time there, he achieved a LaLiga title and came close to winning the club’s first European Cup, but ultimately lost in a penalty shootout in the 1986 final against Steaua Bucharest.
Following his stint in Spain, Venables became the manager of Tottenham Hotspur, a team he previously played for. Under his leadership, they achieved victory in the FA Cup in 1991.
One year after joining the London club from Portsmouth, Anderton reflects on the influence of his manager, whom he considers to be like a second father figure, during his early years as a player.
Anderton, who also represented Venables on the international level, shared on BBC Radio 5 Live that he looked up to him as a paternal figure. At just 20 years old and inexperienced, Anderton was brought to Spurs by Venables and faced many challenges.
“He instilled in me the belief that I belonged there. He showed genuine care and concern for every person he interacted with. He truly was exceptional.”
“I have a vivid memory of a difficult time in the beginning stages of my career, during a match against Everton at home. We were behind 1-0 and I was taken off the field. I sat in the bathtub feeling defeated and close to tears when someone walked in. Even though the game was still in progress, they reassured me by saying, ‘You’re just a young kid, only 20 years old. [Paul Gascoigne] has experienced this before. I signed you for next year, so anything else is a bonus. You’re a talented footballer and you’ll be just fine.'”
After that, there was a loud noise and we had tied the score. He remained unfazed, continuing to talk to me without leaving or taking any action. He simply patted my head and said, “you will be a remarkable player.”
“I greatly admired him as a parental figure. He was like a second father to me. It’s incredibly heartbreaking.”
After being promoted to an executive position following an unsuccessful attempt to acquire the club, Venables’s time at Tottenham came to an end in May 1993 due to accusations of improper business conduct.
About eight months after his appointment, he became the England manager and led the team to the semi-finals of Euro 1996.
In 1994, Venables awarded Anderton his first international appearance during a match against Denmark. Two years after, Anderton was a member of the team that dominated Netherlands with a 4-1 victory in the group stage.
During an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Anderton fondly remembered, “He was the most amazing person I’ve ever met.” Anderton went on to describe a memorable experience from his time playing for England when they faced Holland on a Monday night. He shared, “After the game, we were all in the lounge and that night is by far my favorite memory from my football career.”
In the living room, he entered and lightly touched my father’s shoulder, saying, “I knew he would be okay.”
“He lit up every room that he walked into, he really did. I could speak about him for hours as a football manager and a coach, but as a human being he was the best. Even in the dark moments within a football changing room or on the pitch, he literally lit up a room.
He consistently took care of his sons and team, and nobody ever spoke negatively of him. He truly savored life.