From Scotland to Tottenham; remembering soccer legend Dave Mackay

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Not many people would connect Hearts from the Scottish Premier League and Qatar the hosts of the 2022 World Cup, but Dave Mackay who passed away this week at the age of 80 would be that connection. He started his career for the Edinburgh team and ended his football career life as national coach of Qatar some 42 years later. Whilst Mackay may not be recognizable to a younger soccer generation there is an infamous photo of him that even passing fans would likely have seen.

We usually come across one or two unique football photos each decade. The 1970’s gave us the moment Bobby Moore shared a precious moment with Pele after Brazil had knocked out the then world champions England. The 80’s had Vinnie Jones having a squeeze on Tottenham maverick Paul Gascoigne’s privates. Whilst the 1990’s had a bird’s eye view of Roberto Baggio kneeling in anguish after his penalty miss for Italy in the World Cup final meant that Brazil had won the World Cup for a record fourth time.

In the 1960’s that moment belonged to Tottenham Hotspur’s Dave Mackay, who can be seen grabbing Leeds United’s Billy Bremner by the scruff of the collar. Just the way Mackay has approached his opposition player cries for the times this photo was taken in. A decade later and it may have been a punch, a decade after that and it could well have been a head butt. Mackay loathed the picture because it represented in his opinion that he was a bully. But the picture became infamous in the annuals of football history. Sir Alex Ferguson had it framed and hung it up in his office at Old Trafford for 26 years.

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Mackay had that rare distinction of being a serial club legend. First at Hearts where he played 135 games then at Tottenham Hotspur where he played 318 games in nine years. Despite being 34 and having experienced two broken legs, he managed short stints with Derby County and Swindon Town respectively.

But the man from Scotland will always be remembered for that infamous 1961 season with Tottenham, when the north Londoners became the first team of the 20th century to win the League and FA Cup double.

The late George Best once called Mackay the toughest player he had ever played against. Phil Holder, who would be best remembered for his time at Crystal Palace in the 70’s, was a trainee at Tottenham when Mackay’s Tottenham days were winding down. He once recalled being stunned by walking into the gym and seeing Mackay volleying the ball from 20 yards against the wall repeatedly without hesitation and changing from his left to right foot at random.

But perhaps, and most fittingly, the last word on Mackey should go to his teammate Jimmy Greaves, who said that Mackay was the greatest player ever to play for Tottenham.

Dave Mackay born November 14th, 1934, died March 3rd , 2015

 

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