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Sunday 10 May 2020
NI Hall of Fame: Danny Blanchflower

Danny Blanchflower was not just a wonderfully gifted footballer but also one of the most tactically aware players of his generation. 

He was never the quickest on the park or was he the most ferocious in the tackle but what he did have in abundance was a natural ability to pass a ball and an aptitude for being able to change tactics in the middle of a game.  

His illustrious career began when he joined Glentoran just after the end of the Second World War. A move to the English game did not transpire until April 1949 when Barnsley paid the east Belfast side £6,500 for the then 23-year-old. 

Blanchflower’s first cap for Northern Ireland arrived just six months later. He had an inauspicious start to his international career as opponents Scotland left Windsor Park with a resounding 8-2 victory. 

In March 1951 Aston Villa secured his services for £15,000 and three years later he was on the move again – this time to Tottenham Hotspur for twice the transfer fee. 

During his 10 years as skipper at White Hart Lane he skippered Spurs to the league and FA Cup double in 1961 another FA Cup in 1962 and a European Cup Winners’ Cup triumph over Athletico Madrid in 1963. 

A witty, rational and intelligent man, undoubtedly Danny’s greatest ever achievement on the international stage was when he captained his country to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Sweden in 1958. 

Injury blighted the final 18 months of his playing career and he retired from the game in the summer of 1964. 

He had a short three-year stint in charge of the national side, the highlight of which was a 1-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland at Windsor Park in his final game in charge.  

Blanchflower also had a brief foray into club management with Chelsea in late 1978 but resigned after only nine months at Stamford Bridge, citing he had become disillusioned with the absence of loyalty and integrity within the game. 

He passed away in London in December 1993 aged just 67.

Danny Blanchflower stat pack

  • While at Glentoran he appeared in two Irish Cup Finals, losing both; 1-0 to Belfast Celtic (1947) and 3-1 to Derry City (1949)
  • Blanchflower became the first player to reach a half century of appearances for Northern Ireland when he played in a 1-1 draw against England at Wembley Stadium on 22 November 1961
  • Forty-three of his 56 caps came as a Spurs player, nine when he was at Aston Villa and four while at Barnsley
  • He captained his country on a total of 45 occasions including all five games at the World Cup in Sweden in 1958
  • Blanchflower had to wait until his 42nd cap before he managed to get on the scoresheet for his country when he converted a penalty in a 3-2 loss to Wales in April 1960. Seven months later he scored his second and final goal – also a penalty – in a 5-2 defeat to Scotland at Hampden Park
  • His reign as manager of Northern Ireland lasted only three years (1976-1979). His first match in charge was the memorable 2-2 World Cup draw in Rotterdam against the Netherlands in October 1976. His last a 1-0 European Championship victory over the Republic of Ireland in November 1979
  • Blanchflower’s record as manager was: P 24, W 6, D 5, L 13, F 19, A 38
  • In 1958 he was named in the World Cup All-Star team after being voted one of the best midfielders at the finals in Sweden. 
  • Younger brother Jackie Blanchflower played alongside Danny in each of his 12 international appearances for Northern Ireland
  • In 1961, after skippering Spurs to the double, he was voted Footballer of the Year for a second time having previously won it in 1958