Gary Neville pays special tribute to ‘gifted’ Terry Venables with Pep Guardiola comparison
Gary Neville compared Terry Venables’ abilities to those of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola following the death of the ex-England boss at the age of 80.
Venables handed Neville his senior England debut in 1995, also naming the Manchester United star in the squad for Euro 96. The decorated coach also had spells in charge of Barcelona and Tottenham during a more than 30-year managerial career which came to an end in 2007.
A number of ex-players, including former England and Barcelona star Gary Lineker, have paid their respects. Neville has now followed suit, sharing a lengthy statement on social media.
“So sorry to hear the news of my very first England coach, Terry Venables,” Neville wrote. “A man who gave me a chance to play for my country and became without a shadow of doubt my number one England coach in my whole career.
“There were three things that were important to me about Venables. The first is when we hear people that play for Pep Guardiola now say that he can call the outcome of a game in training a few days before the match arrives, Terry Venables had that very same capability, he’d come through the Barcelona system.
“In Euro 96 as a right back, I played as a conventional right back in the first match, the right of a back three in parts of the second match against Scotland and as a right winger when we were in possession through our goalkeeper in the third match against Holland and in the fourth match against Spain in the quarter final as a right wing back. The ability that we had to change systems during matches and from game to game was incredible, it blew my mind. England certainly needed more like him and it was a real sadness when he left at the end of Euro 96, I felt it never got as good again for England as it was under him.”
“The second thing was that he was an unbelievable personality and character, larger than life,” Neville continued.. “He was someone who was a players man, looked after his players, stood up for his players in big situations like the pre-96 trip to Hong Kong and the dentist chair incident.
“He was someone who the players trusted and had great faith in and he always spoke openly and he was a personality that was far too big for the then rigid and stiff FA football association and that’s why they got rid of him after Euro 96 and why the relationship ended. The third thing is what all great coaches need. He had an unbelievable ruthlessness and clinical side to him.
“We had brilliant leaders in that dressing room like [Paul] Ince, [Tony] Adams, [Alan] Shearer, [David] Platt, [Paul] Gascoigne, [Gareth] Southgate and [David] Seaman. He handled them all really strongly and they all knew who the boss was.
“There were many times where he would come in at half-time and call out one of the senior players and there were few England managers who could do that and Terry had that quality. I sit here today thinking back to my special times with Terry and can say he is without doubt the most technically gifted British coach we’ve ever produced.”
Spurs, who won the FA Cup under Venables in 1991, paid their own tribute ahead of their Premier League game against Aston Villa on Sunday. Venables also spent time on the club’s books as a player, winning the cup in 1967.
“The Club is extremely saddened to learn of the passing of former player and manager Terry Venables,” a club statement read. “Our deepest condolences are with Terry’s friends and family at this incredibly difficult time.
“In tribute, we shall hold a minute’s applause prior to kick-off and our players will wear black armbands during this afternoon’s fixture against Aston Villa. Rest in peace, Terry.”