Skip to main content

"I'd play for Tottenham's reserves and then keep a clean sheet against Platini's France" – Pat Jennings recalls five games that changed his life

Pat Jennings
(Image credit: Getty)

Tottenham 2-1 Chelsea (May 20, 1967 FA Cup final)

“I’d watched FA Cup matches in Ireland as a kid, when I was lucky enough to find a television. It was the glamour competition, so my first FA Cup medal meant a lot. I perhaps should have done better for Chelsea’s goal, but when I get a video out, I see I made a couple of brilliant early saves.”

Tottenham 4-2 Leeds (April 28, 1975 First Division)

“This was a huge night: we needed to beat Leeds to stay in the First Division. It was the last match of the season, on a Monday night, at White Hart Lane, and I didn’t want to be part of a team that took the great Tottenham Hotspur into the Second Division. Leeds were playing in the European Cup final a few weeks later, so winning this game gave me as much satisfaction as any of my cup wins.”

Spain 0-1 Northern Ireland (June 25, 1982 World Cup)

“We had some unbelievable nights with Northern Ireland in the early-80s – we beat Germany home and away – and we’d been trying to reach a World Cup for so long. To qualify for Spain 82, then beat the host nation, was fantastic. Gerry Armstrong scored and we kept a clean sheet even though Mal Donaghy was sent off 30 minutes before the end.”

England 0-0 Northern Ireland (November 13, 1985 World Cup qualifier)

“My final match at Wembley – we needed a point to reach the 1986 World Cup, and half of the pitch was frozen. I had to make a flying save from Glenn Hoddle, then keep out a Kerry Dixon header. Alan McDonald was stood behind me on the line, thinking I wasn’t going to get it. I thought he was going to handle it, but I just managed to push the ball over. I was 40 and back at Tottenham, playing for their reserves, but I still kept six clean sheets in a row for Northern Ireland – including one against Michel Platini’s France. I had never kept six clean sheets on the trot when I was 30, never mind 40!”

Northern Ireland 0-3 Brazil (June 12, 1986 World Cup)

“I was two short of 1,100 first-class matches and my last-ever game was against Brazil at the World Cup, on my 41st birthday. I couldn’t have chosen better opposition. I’d played against Mexico at the Azteca in 1966, so to be back in Mexico 20 years later, on my birthday, was a special way to finish.”

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Chris joined FourFourTwo in 2015 and has reported from 20 countries, in places as varied as Jerusalem and the Arctic Circle. He's interviewed Pele, Zlatan and Santa Claus (it's a long story), as well as covering Euro 2020 and the Clasico. He previously spent 10 years as a newspaper journalist, and completed the 92 in 2017.