When Tottenham sealed transfer of Fulham youngster Alan Mullery – will Ryan Sessegnon become a legend like former captain?

21 May

A host of clubs are keen on Fulham youngster Ryan Sessegnon, including Tottenham. Here, talkSPORT.com looks at one transfer between the London clubs in 1964 that can definitely be considered a great success.

Having joined Fulham at 15 in 1956, Alan Mullery signed pro forms with the west London side on his 17th birthday and by 23 he was a Tottenham player.

Fulham’s 19-year-old star Ryan Sessegnon is wanted by Champions League finalists Tottenham. The player, relegated with the club this season, is valued at £40m
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Joining in the 1960s, a glamour decade for Spurs that saw them win the league and cup double and the Cup Winners Cup among others, the tough tackling midfielder found his new surroundings superior in every aspect.

“At Fulham, when you turned up, especially if you were a few minutes late, you couldn’t get the right shirt, shorts or top,” he explained to the club’s official website. “When I got to Tottenham, this was all laid out for us with initials on! The tracksuit had the same initials. I had brand new pumps, they knew what size of boot I took, 7½, and it was just a different place completely.

“The first day I was there, we played squash and I had a new racket, with my name on it! I’d never played squash in my life!

“Everything about the place was class. You drove in and saw decent cars in the car park. It just hit you that you were involved with history and success and that had to be continued.”

This was 1964 and manager Bill Nicholson was rebuilding his ageing squad and, along with Mullery, who Spurs paid £72,500 for, Pat Jennings, Alan Gilzean and Cyril Knowles were brought in, too.

“I always say, I didn’t want to go to Arsenal, I didn’t want to go to Chelsea, I wanted to go to the place where they were playing the type of football you could watch on television and drool over,” he said. “That was Spurs, and that was White Hart Lane.”

Mullery, second from right, holds the FA Cup up to jubilant fans in 1967
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There were people who doubted he could make the grade, though, and for a while it looked like they were right.

The problem was that he was there to replace captain fantastic Danny Blanchflower, the man who led the club to the double in 1961 and the crowd were having none of it.

“[Blanchflower] could thrill them with his precise passes. My big points were hard tackles and lots of energy,” Spurs’ half man/ half tank told Hunter Davies, author of ‘The Glory Game’.

“We were poles apart,” he added. Mullery wanted out after six months, but soon enough everything started to click.

Mullery was captain of the Spurs side in 1972 that won the first ever UEFA Cup
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Taking a throw-in during one game, he heard a fan shout ‘come on the tank’ and that was it. He wasn’t being compared to Blanchflower anymore. Whether it was meant as a compliment or not, he now had his own identity and there was an acceptance from supporters.

Mullery wanted to join Tottenham, the team of the 1960s, because that’s where the best football was played in his eyes. Team-mates included Jimmy Greaves and Dave Mackay
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His all action displays and tank-like qualities made him extremely popular. In all, Mullery spent eight and a half years as a Tottenham player, appearing 372 times. It was here he became an England player, here where he became an England captain and here where he won the FA Cup, the League Cup and UEFA Cup.

And that European triumph in 1972 signalled the end of his time in Spurs’ white. The fearless captain’s last action was to lift the trophy where he was hoisted aloft by joyful fans on the pitch after Spurs beat Wolves at White Hart Lane in the first ever UEFA Cup final.

Tottenham fans carry Alan Mullery around White Hart Lane after Spurs’ UEFA Cup win over Wolves
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