Tottenham Hotspur is an English football club that has a big history, with some famous players and coaches having plied their trade at the north London club. Spurs have enjoyed some fantastic moments down the years.
Despite some close calls, Tottenham Hotspur has never won the Premier League. However, as we all know, football did not start in 1992, as some would have you believe, and Tottenham has previously won the English title on two occasions. Here is the story of those two title triumphs and some of their other achievements throughout the years:
Tottenham’s early years and first league title
The club from north London were elected to join the old Second Division in 1908 and finished as runners-up in the league to earn their first promotion to the English First Division. After some ups and downs in their early years, pre- and post-First World War 1, Spurs finished as First Division runners-up to champions Liverpool in 1922.
Tottenham experienced more mixed fortunes until the appointment of Arthur Rowe as their manager in 1949. Rowe came up with a style of football known as ‘push and run’, which helped the club to win the Second Division Championship. Even more success was to come the following season, as they won their first-ever top-flight title in season 1950/51.
Tottenham were unable to repeat the feat again, and Rowe resigned from his position in 1955 due to health concerns. Rowe won’t just be remembered as the first Tottenham boss to win the league title but also as the person responsible for signing club legend Danny Blanchflower, who won the FWA Footballer of the Year award on two occasions during his Spurs career.
The Bill Nicholson era
In October 1958, Bill Nicholson arrived at the club as manager. The Yorkshire-born boss became the most successful manager in the history of the north London club.
Tottenham’s success under Nicholson was all about the players he brought into the club. During his time as Spurs boss, he brought in Dave MacKay, John White, and Jimmy Greaves. Greaves went on to become the top scorer in the history of the English top flight scoring an incredible 357 league goals, with the majority of the goals coming in a Tottenham shirt.
All three players proved to be key to Spurs’ second title win in 1961. Tottenham secured the title in April with three league matches still remaining by recording a 2-1 home win over Sheffield Wednesday, who would finish as runners-up in the First Division. Spurs also won the FA Cup, beating Leicester 2-0. The victory over the Foxes made Tottenham the first English team of the 20th century to record a double.
Tottenham won their second straight FA Cup in the following season, beating Burnley 3-1, with Greaves, Bobby Smith and Blanchflower all getting on the scoresheet.
In 1963, Tottenham became the first British team to win European silverware when they defeated Atletico Madrid 5-1 in the Cup Winners’ Cup final. Jimmy Greaves scored a brace, with John White also getting on the scoresheet.
That same season Spurs came close to winning their third English top-flight title, only to eventually finish as runners-up to eventual champions Everton, despite scoring an incredible 111 league goals.
Spurs became the first British team to win two European trophies when in season 1971/72, they defeated fellow English team Wolves 3-2 on aggregate in a two-legged final. The likes of Martin Chivers, Pat Jennings, and Steve Perryman all featured in their starting line-up.
Tottenham won other trophies under the revered Nicholson, winning the FA Cup once again in 1967 while also lifting the League Cup twice in 1971 and 1973. However, Spurs struggled to find the same success in the league as they had in cups competition and failed to win the English title again under Nicholson, and the respected boss quit his job after a poor start to the 1974/75 campaign.
Relegation and a return to glory under Burkinshaw
Tottenham’s fortunes waned drastically after Nicholson’s exit, and Spurs suffered relegation to the Second Division in 1977 under Keith Burkinshaw. However, they quickly returned to the English top flight under the same boss.
A team rebuild saw midfield maestro Glenn Hoddle arrive at the club, as well as Argentinian stars Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa. The arrival of the two South Americans was unusual, as, at that time, English club teams were dominated by players from the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
The signings were pivotal in a return to glory for the team from north London. Spurs went on to win the FA Cup in 1981 and 1982, as well as the 1984 UEFA Cup. The club then embarked on a tough financial period. Famed UK businessman Alan Sugar gained control of the club in 1991.
Tottenham won the 1991 FA Cup under Terry Venables just a few weeks before the takeover. They beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 in the final at Wembley. That Cup-winning Spurs team contained England heroes Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne. The latter finished as the FA Cup’s top goalscorer that season, scoring six times.
The Premier League years
In 1992 the First Division became the Premier League. In the early years of the Premier League, Spurs failed to make much of an impact, mainly producing mid-table finishes. Their next taste of silverware was in the League Cup, a competition they won in 1999 and 2008.
The arrival of Harry Redknapp as boss helped raise performance levels, with the stars such as Luka Modric and Gareth Bale impressing in the Tottenham team of the early 2010s, as Tottenham returned closer to the English top-flight summit.
However, it wasn’t until the 2016/17 season that Tottenham once again came close to winning the title. Under Argentinian tactician Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs finished second place in the Premier League, their highest top-flight finish since 1963.
Tottenham went on to achieve regular top-four and top-six finishes in the English top-flight table in the following seasons. They also lost in the 2019 Champions League final, suffering a 2-0 defeat against Liverpool.
Tottenham has done well to stay competitive
Some would say that Tottenham has underachieved in their history when it comes to English top-flight titles. There is an argument that Spurs probably should have won far more titles than the two, especially during their glory years.
However, in recent decades Tottenham has remained around the top of the English top-flight table, despite not spending massively compared to their rivals. So, despite the club hierarchies often reluctance to spend, Spurs have, in fact, overachieved.