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Terence Frederick 'Terry' Venables (born 6 January 1943 in Dagenhammarker, London), often referred to as El Tel, is a football manager and former player. He most notably played for , and , and gained two caps for England. He has been employed as the manager of both England and Australia, as well as management stints at Barcelona and various clubs in England. In recent years, he has courted much controversy over a number of suspicious financial deals.

Playing career

Venables left school in the summer of 1957 and signed for as an apprentice. He became professional for them in 1960, after being left out of England's Olympic squad. He emerged as the captain and one of the key players in the Chelsea side which challenged for honours in the 1960s, narrowly missing out on Football League and FA Cup success, and winning the League Cup in 1965, scoring in the final against Leicester City. But a fall-out with manager Tommy Docherty culminated in him and seven other players being sent home for breaking a pre-match curfew and ultimately led to his sale to for £80,000 in 1966. He had made 202 appearances for Chelsea and scored 26 goals.

He played 115 League games and scored 19 goals for Spurs, with the highlight being an FA Cup Final win over his old side in 1967. In June 1969, he transferred to Queens Park Rangers for £70,000 playing 179 games and scoring 19 goals, eventually in 1974 he transferred to for the same fee, but only played 14 games for them before being appointed manager in June 1976.

He signed for in February 1976 and made his debut on 22 February.

As well as receiving two International Caps for England, Venables held the distinction of being the first to play at all international levels (schoolboy, youth, amateur, Under-23, and for the full international team).

Managerial career

Crystal Palace (1976–1980)

He took over as manager of Crystal Palace when they were in the Third Division, he guided them to the Second Division in 1977 and the First Division in 1979, resulting in Palace being hyped by the media as "the team of the eighties".

Queen's Park Rangers (1980–1984)

After a mid-table finish in 1980 he left that October for , who were in the Second Division. His departure from Selhurst Parkmarker coincided with a decline in form for Palace, who were relegated at the end of the season and did not regain their top flight status for another eight years.

He took QPR back into the First Division as Second Division champions in 1983. He also guided Rangers to the FA Cup final in 1982 whilst still a Second Division side, but lost in a replay against his former club Tottenham.

His final season as QPR manager, 1983–84, brought more success as they finished fifth in the league (their highest finish since they were runners-up in 1976) and qualified for the UEFA Cup. Venables then moved to Spain to take over at Barcelona, while Alan Mullery took over from him at Loftus Roadmarker in an ill-fated arrangement that lasted just six months.

In October 2008, Venables was linked with a return to QPR if the incumbent Ian Dowie could not improve the club's form.

Barcelona (1984–1987)

Venables gained a good reputation as a manager with his successes at Crystal Palace and QPR, and this attracted offers from some of Europe's most prestigious clubs and in 1984, he took the role of manager at Barcelona, earning the sobriquet "El Tel". Venables was recommended by Bobby Robson, a good friend of the Barcelona President and who himself, years later, would take over the team. Terry used a very English system, a classic 4–4–2, which took advantage of outstanding defenders like Gerardo, Migueli and Julio Alberto and a hard-working midfield led by German Bernd Schuster. During his three seasons in Cataloniamarker, Venables led the club to the Spanish title and League Cup and reached the final of the European Cup, losing to Steaua Bucharest 2–0 in the shootout having dominated the game, remarkably after all Barcelona's spot kicks were saved.

He also brought two British strikers to Barcelona in 1986 — Gary Lineker from and Mark Hughes from . Lineker was a great success at the Camp Noumarker and spent three years there, until Venables brought him back to England with his new club in 1989. Hughes, however, was less successful and spent just one season in the Barcelona side, before being loaned to Bayern Munich.

He was dismissed in September 1987, after failing to repeat his title success at the Camp Noumarker and the humiliation of losing home and away to eventual finalists in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup six months earlier.

Tottenham Hotspur (1987–1993)

On 23 November 1987, he returned to England to manage Tottenham Hotspur. His success with the north London team was varied, with the side finishing in mid-table for most of his tenure, though they did win the FA Cup in 1991 and finished third in the league in 1990. Venables had brought both Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne to Spurs and was a favourite to replace Bobby Robson as England national football team manager when the job became vacant in 1990, but doubts about his probity led him to be passed over in favour of Graham Taylor. After a failed £20m bid to take over Spurs with Larry Gillick, Venables was appointed chief executive by Alan Sugar, who had won the takeover battle against Robert Maxwell in June 1991. Over the next two seasons, the Spurs team was managed by Peter Shreeves and then the joint management team of Ray Clemence and Doug Livermore, with the final arrangement seeing Venables having more involvement with the first team. A clash of personalities developed and Sugar dismissed Venables on 14 May 1993, over his business dealings. After gaining a temporary injunction, he was reinstated, but lost a 3-day high court hearing and ordered to pay costs.

England (1994–1996)

By November 1993, the England national football team was at low point, having failed to qualify for the 1994 FIFA World Cup under previous manager Graham Taylor. Venables, though not active in the game, seemed to have the presence and charisma that could re-ignite some patriotic pride and achievement. He was appointed manager on 28 January 1994.

However, the speculation coincided with Venables coming under scrutiny and censure in connection with several of his business dealings. The Football Association struggled to identify an alternative candidate but their discomfort with his soiled reputation for probity was articulated in their appointment of him as England 'coach' rather than under the traditional title of 'manager'. However, Venables decided in January 1996 that he was going to leave the England job after the European Championships that summer, as he wanted to concentrate on clearing his name in connection with off-the-field business dealings.

As hosts, England did not need to qualify for the UEFA Euro 1996. There were plenty of highs and lows during the finals, where England won three of their five games (including one on penalties). The highest point came with the 4–1 defeat of the Netherlands in the final group game. Venables suffered penalty shoot-out heartache again in the semi-finals, losing to Germany. During his 23 match tenure as England manager, the team only lost once.

Australia (1996–1997)

Venables became manager of Australia in November 1996, following the resignation of Eddie Thomson. In the 1997 FIFA Confederations Cup, Venables led Australia to the final before defeat to Brazil. His side swept through the Oceania World Cup qualifiers, but were beaten in a play-off by Iran on away goals, a match often referred to as the most tragic moment in Australian football history. With the team having drawn 1–1 in Tehranmarker, Australia led the second leg 2-0 at half time, but the partisan crowd were left stunned when they conceded two late goals to miss out on qualification for the 1998 FIFA World Cup on away goals, which led to Venables being sacked.

Portsmouth; chairman (1997–1998)

At the same time, Venables acted as consultant and then chairman at . He purchased a 51% controlling interest in the club for £1 in February 1997, but left in controversial circumstances 11 months later. His company Vencorp received a £300,000 bonus in the summer of 1997 and he is thought to have been paid around £250,000 upon leaving the club, but he left them bottom of Division One.

Although Portsmouth avoided relegation 1997–98, their financial situation worsened and they were in real danger of bankruptcy, until being taken over by Milan Mandarić in late 1999.

Return to Crystal Palace (1998–1999)

In March 1998, he returned to Crystal Palace who had just been taken over by Mark Goldberg, and then relegated from the Premier League, for a brief period, before leaving acrimoniously in January 1999, as the south-London club went into administration. His appointment had created a media frenzy, with Goldberg boasting that he was going to turn Palace into a European force within the next five years. But the dream was over within a year, and Palace narrowly avoided going out of business, although they did at least finish in a secure position in Division One.

Middlesbrough (2000–2001)

Despite being linked with vacant managerial positions with Wales and , Venables remained out of football for nearly two years until December 2000, when he was appointed Head of Football to assist and co-manage with the incumbent manager Bryan Robson in a bid to help the club avoid relegation. The club eventually finished 14th and survived. However, Venables felt Teessidemarker was too remote a base for his media and business interests and he left at the same time as Robson in June 2001.

Leeds United (2002–2003)

In July 2002, Venables joined Leeds United as manager. Although the extent of Leeds' disastrous financial problems were only beginning to become clear with club captain Rio Ferdinand sold to only a fortnight into Venables appointment, he still inherited a stronger squad than the one that had qualified for the UEFA Champions League two years earlier (effectively, since Ferdinand was bought after qualification, Venables' squad was identical with the exception of an additional striker in Robbie Keane). Despite this, by December of that year the side had crashed out of both the League Cup and the UEFA Cup and were languishing in the bottom half of the table. Leeds were further weakened in January 2003, when Jonathan Woodgate was sold to and Robbie Keane to , without Venables being informed, in an attempt to pay off mounting debts. Venables threatened to leave if Woodgate was sold, but was persuaded to stay by Peter Ridsdale. With the club spiralling towards relegation, and amid later substantiated rumours of further player sales by the board Venables was sacked in March 2003. The fortunes of Leeds turned around temporarily after his sacking as they escaped relegation under Peter Reid, securing safety with a remarkable 3–2 win away to reigning Premier League champions .

England : assistant manager (2006–2007)

Venables was linked with Australian club Newcastle United Jets in 2005, but his commitments in the UK prevented him from taking up a role within the club, and his agent announced that he did not sign any deal with the club. At the end of the 2005–06 season, he was linked with a return to Middlesbrough, but decided that at his age he would be unable to manage a Premier League club full time. Later in the year, Venables returned to the England set-up as assistant to new manager Steve McClaren. He was later sacked from this role in November 2007, along with McClaren, after England failed to qualify for the UEFA Euro 2008.


Venables has been linked in the media with the Republic of Ireland, Leicester City, Bulgaria, Iran, , and managerial jobs.

Other interests

Venables is also well known for his business interests, most notably with English clubs Queen's Park Rangers (as Managing Director), Tottenham Hotspur (as Chief Executive) and Portsmouth (as Chairman). However, on 14 January 1998 he was disqualified by the high court from acting as a company director for seven years under section 8 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 for mismanagement of four companies - the London drinking club Scribes West Ltd, Edenote plc, Tottenham Hotspur plc and Tottenham Hotspur Football and Athletic Company Ltd.

The case was brought by the Department of Trade and Industry who cited instances of bribery, lying, deception, manipulation of accounts and taking money that should have been given to creditors.

In addition to his widespread business interests, Venables also co-authored four novels with writer Gordon Williams and is credited as co-creator of the ITV detective series Hazell. Having been a football pundit for BBC since the mid-80s, he left for ITV in 1994, following a legal dispute with the corporation over allegations made against him in a Panorama programme. In 1990 Venables co-devised the board game, "Terry Venables invites you to be... The Manager". This is a football management game and is a cross between the Game of Life, Risk and Trivial Pursuit. In 2002 Venables recorded a single for the World Cup together with the band Rider. England Crazy reached number 46 in the UK charts. In May 2006, Venables guided the England Legends and Celebrities squad to victory in the charity Soccer Aid programme.



Individual honour

Managerial statistics

Team Nat From To Record
G W L D Win %
June 1976 October 1980 189 69 52 68 36.5
April 1980 November 1984 166 84 49 33 50.6
Barcelona 1984 September 1987 116 64 17 35 55.2
November 1987 June 1991 164 67 51 46 40.9
England January 1994 July 1996 23 11 1 11 47.8
Australia November 1996 January 1998 23 15 3 5 63.00
June 1998 January 1999 31 11 12 8 35.5
December 2000 June 2001 25 8 6 11 32.0
Leeds United July 2002 March 2003 42 16 19 7 38.1
Total 658 270 207 181



  • Venables, T & Hanson, N (1995) Venables: The Autobiography ISBN 0-14-024077-2
  • Venables, T (1996) Venables' England: The Making of the TeamISBN 0-7522-1664-3
  • - (1997) The Best Game in the World ISBN 0-09-918562-8


(all co-written with Gordon Williams)
  • - (1973) They Used to Play on Grass ISBN 0-583-12077-6
  • - As “P.B. Yuill” (1974) The Bornless Keeper
  • - As “P.B. Yuill” (1974) Hazell Plays Solomon ISBN 0-14-024416-6
  • - As “P.B. Yuill” (1975) Hazell and the Three Card Trick ISBN 0-14-024419-0
  • - As “P.B. Yuill” (1976) Hazell and the Menacing Jester ISBN 0-14-024418-2


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