If Tottenham are wanting inspiration ahead of a must-win game against Red Star Belgrade, then Martin Chivers is the man to speak to.
Spurs host the Serbian outfit in the Champions League on Tuesday knowing nothing other than three points will do as they bid to get their European campaign back on track after the 7-2 humiliation against Bayern Munich.
Chivers was one of Tottenham’s heroes the only other time they have met Red Star – in a two-legged UEFA Cup tie in 1972.
Bill Nicholson’s side were reigning champions, having beaten Wolves in the previous season’s final, when they were paired with Red Star in the third round.
The first match was at White Hart Lane and with a return trip to Belgrade to come, former England international Chivers knew the importance of getting a lead to take.
And he delivered for his team, putting them ahead in the first half, with the late Alan Gilzean adding a decisive second after the break.
“We knew that they were a big team in those days, they were successful and had a big following and we were ready for a tough game” Chivers, now 74, told the PA news agency.
“In the game at Tottenham, I don’t think we touched the ball in the first 20 minutes, but we held out.
“Then I scored. It was a good move from Cyril Knowles up to me, to Martin Peters and he set me back in again and I held off a defender and shot with my left foot.
“It was a terrific move and a vital goal because we knew they were going to be tough opposition, especially when we went away.
“Alan scored second and to get a two-goal lead was so important because with one goal you’re on edge, it would not have been enough.”
Sure enough, that proved to be true as in a highly testing atmosphere in Belgrade, Spurs were beaten 1-0, but their work at the Lane had proved enough.
They enjoyed another memorable run, but this time it ended in heartbreak as they were beaten by Liverpool in the semi-final on away goals.
Spearheaded by Chivers, who was enjoying the most prolific spell of his career, Spurs’ golden period in Europe under Nicholson continued the following season as they reached the final, where they lost to Feyenoord.
“That was the most magical time when we played in Europe, turning out at Tottenham in all white, the kit handed down to us form the double-winning team,” Chivers gushed.
“The European nights at Tottenham were second to none. It was the best atmosphere and most often the best quality football.”
Spurs will be hoping to recreate those magical nights in their new stadium, starting with Red Star on Tuesday.
They are in desperate need of a positive lift following a poor start to the season, which has seen boss Mauricio Pochettino’s position come under scrutiny.
But Chivers expects the Argentinian to turn things around.
“It is a must-win but I don’t think Red Star are the Red Star we played against,” he added. “There is a good chance we will go out next Tuesday and have a fantastic night.
“We are not as strong as we were. But I am sure the manager will get us back there, I have great faith in him. I am quite confident that we will come back.”
Chivers made his name in north London playing under the club’s greatest ever manager in Nicholson.
Although Pochettino is yet to win a trophy, which stops him being compared to Nicholson, Chivers reckons the former Espanyol and Southampton boss deserves credit for the job he has done.
“Pochettino has got a lot to do before he is a Bill Nicholson but what he has done over the six years that he has been with us is something to get excited about,” he added.
“He has taken us nearly to the brink, he took us the Champions League final, we have touched it, but we have not won the games that Bill Nicholson did in his career.
“You just need that little bit of luck and a settled team because that is the secret we had.”
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