Tuesday, 6 July 2010


He didn't score and he didn't merit too many headlines but Gillie's role in the 1967 FA Cup final win over Chelsea was crucial. Tommy Docherty, Chelsea's young manager, made a catastrophic tactical error by playing Marvin Hinton as a conventional centre-half rather than sweeper. It proved a particularly welcome move for Gilzean. But don't just take my word for it. Here's what Bobby Tambling, who scored Chelsea's goal, had to say about Gillie's role in the victory:

"Alan Gilzean destroyed us on the day though, we couldn't get near him. Joe Kinnear was marking me, I remember, but we were so poor I ended up trying to keep with him as he came marauding forward from full-back. Gilzean was a superb player and I can understand the comparisons with Berbatov. They both have a lovely deft touch."

Tambling wasn't the only one, though. 'The Daily Mail History of the FA Cup' noted:

“[Chelsea's tactics] should have been altered as soon as it became obvious that Gilzean was winning every ball. No goals came from his stream of flicked headers mainly because Greaves was magnificently marked by Ron Harris. But Gilzean's play was like a persisent, prodding finger into Chelsea's midriff, making them twist and twitch uneasily. They were never without the pressure of his presence. Spurs' control and professionalism were so overwhelming it was like watching a high-wire act practising a foot above the ground. They would not slip, and it did not matter if they did. This final died not for lack of interest but for lack of hope.”

Typically, though, Gillie did not take much of the credit. Humility was to prove a recurring theme throughout his career with him often shrugging his shoulders and saying 'it's just part of the game'.

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