Born : June 12, 1945 in Newry, County Down, Northern Ireland
Position : Goalkeeper
Clubs : Newry Town; Watford (May 1963; Tottenham Hotspur (1964),
Arsenal 1977); Tottenham Hotspur (1985); Everton ( 1986),
FA Cup : 1967, 1979
League Cup : 1971, 1973
UEFA Cup : 1972
International Debut : 15th April 1964; away. v Wales (W 3-2)
International Apperarances : 119
If ever there was a goalkeeper that could be described as a typical of the breed, it was Pat Jennings. Unorthodox, unflappable, respectable and polite, Jennings commanded his penalty box with an air of nonchalance and calmness that would shame Peter Schmeichel into retirement. Yet despite never receiving any formal kind of coaching - or even because of it - he become one of the greatest goalkeepers the game has ever seen.
Born in Newry, Northern Ireland, Jennings grew up playing Gaelic Football before signing for his local side as a teenager. He first caught the eye playing in a Youth Tournament at Wembley at the age of 17 and was signed by Watford shortly afterwards. His subsequent performances for the Hornets earned him International recognition and a transfer to Tottenham Hotspur in 1964.
There he arguably enjoyed the most successful spell of his career, winning the FA Cup, two League Cups and the UEFA Cup in quick succession. However, believing he was past his best, Spurs foolishly sold him to local rivals Arsenal for £40, 000 in 1977, where he enjoyed further success and played on for another eight seasons.During his eight years with the Gunners Jennings appeared in 237 league games. Whilst at Highbury he helped Arsenal to three successive FA Cup finals, in 1978, 1979, and 1980. However, Arsenal only managed to win the second of these finals, a 3-2 victory against Manchester United.
He played 119 games for his country as a goalkeeper, a figure which at the time was a world record, in an international career which lasted for over 22 years. Jennings is considered one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. During his career Jennings played in over 1000 top level games for club and country, he even managed to score a goal in the 1967 Charity Shield match. What was even more spectacular about it was that he scored the kick from his hands--sending a large punt down the field that bounced over Manchester United goalkeeper Alex Stepney and landed in the net.
After impressing with the team he moved to English Third Division side Watford in May 1963. Jennings again impressed in his first season in English football, as he played every league game for his club, and was bought by Tottenham Hotspur for £27,000 at the end of it. Jennings spent 13 years at White Hart Lane, where he played in 472 league games for Spurs. He won the FA Cup in 1967, the League Cup in 1971 and 1973, and the UEFA Cup in 1972. In 1973 the Football Writers' Association named him as its footballer of the year, three years later he won PFA's version of the award.
In August 1977, he was sold to Tottenham's arch-rivals, Arsenal.
Jennings made his Northern Ireland debut as an 18 year old, whilst playing for Watford. This game was on April 15, 1964, and was a British Home Championship match against Wales, Northern Ireland won the game 3-2; George Best made his international debut in the same game. Jennings played his final international game on his 41st birthday, having returned to Tottenham Hotspur 6 months earlier, playing in their reserve side to maintain his match sharpness. This game was Northern Ireland's final group game in the 1986 World Cup, and was against Brazil, Brazil won the game 3-0. This was Jennings's second World Cup, he had previously played in the 1982 World Cup.
One of the reasons he was so successful was down to the size of his hands - which were as big as a pair of satellite dishes (or thereabouts). His 'Lurgan shovels', as manager Billy Bingham liked to call them, helped him pull off spectacular one-handed saves which didn't see possible and he had the habit of breaking the hearts of many a centre forward by clawing the ball out of the air single-handedly and holding onto it.
But it wasn't just about his hands - it was his whole approach to the game. A late starter, his lack of formal training meant he avoided the bad habits and strict codes of conducts of his predecessors, and he broke the mould by willingly using other parts of his body to keep the ball out of the net. He was the first to use his feet to good effect and underlined the strength of his kicking by scoring from a goal kick during the 1967 Charity Shield match against Manchester United.
Following his retirement Jennings has worked as a goalkeeping coach. He has worked at Tottenham in this capacity since 1993. In 2003 Jennings was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of the skills he demonstrated in the English league.
Jennings now lives in Broxbourne, Herts.