Terry Venables tributes by Gary Lineker, Gareth Southgate, Ange Postecoglou, Gary Neville

Terry Venables was “the best English coach we’ve had”, said Gary Lineker as he led tributes to the former England boss after his death at the age of 80.

Venables signed England striker Lineker for both Barcelona and Tottenham.

Lineker said Venables’ death – which came after a long illness – had “hit me hard” because “he was not a coach or just a manager, but a friend”.

“He was charming, charismatic, witty but he was also tough – and that’s what you needed to be,” said Lineker.

“He understood football – he had an incredible football brain.”

Lineker, who presents Match of the Day on the BBC, drew a comparison between Venables and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

“He was a leader in terms of coaching – a bit like Pep,” Lineker told the BBC. “The kind of football he played – high press, keeping possession – was more difficult because of playing surfaces.

“I would put him up there in terms of the way he would tactically think about the game. I had so many lunches with him where we would just talk tactics. He had a huge brain for that.”

Venables was England manager for two years and led them to the semi-finals of Euro 96.

“Terry came in at a time when we had good players but he used them perfectly,” said Lineker, who had retired by that point.

“The tactics in some of the matches during the Euros were thoughtful and imaginative. They were incredibly unlucky not to win the semi-final [against Germany] and I’m sure they’d have won the final.”

Current England manager Gareth Southgate was part of that squad, having been given his international debut by Venables the previous year.

“He had a wonderful manner, capable of handling everyone from the youngest player to the biggest star,” said Southgate.

“Any player will have great affinity with the manager that gave them their opportunity, but it was quickly evident playing for Terry Venables that he was an outstanding coach and manager.

“He was open minded, forward thinking, enjoyed life to the full and created a brilliant environment with England that allowed his players to flourish and have one of the most memorable tournaments in England history.

“He was a brilliant man who made people feel special.”

Gareth Southgate and Terry Venables
Terry Venables gave Gareth Southgate his England debut in 1995. They both played for Crystal Palace and managed Middlesbrough

Venables played for Chelsea, Tottenham, QPR and Crystal Palace and won two England caps.

He managed Palace, QPR, Barcelona, Tottenham, England, Australia, Middlesbrough and Leeds United.

Spurs manager Ange Postecoglou, who has also managed Australia, told Sky Sports: “If you are asking about a person who embodies everything this football club has always wanted to be, it is Terry. It wasn’t just about the way he managed or coached; it was the person he was.

“He influenced Australia as well. He was the manager for the national team and almost got us to the World Cup, but the biggest testament is that anyone who I have ever come across that has worked with him will say he is by far the best coach, manager and tactician they have come across.”

Football Australia chair Anter Isaac said he was “deeply saddened” by the death of “a true icon of football”.

Isaac added: “His remarkable contributions to the game, especially during his tenure as the head coach of the Socceroos, have left an indelible mark on Australian football.”

Spanish midfielder Nayim played for Venables at Barcelona and followed the manager to Tottenham.

The 57-year-old told BBC Radio 5 Live: “The best call of my life was Terry Venables when he was Tottenham manager and he gave me a call to join. I was training on my own because Johan Cruyff didn’t let me train with the team; I was about three months training on my own.

“Terry Venables knew about that and he knew how I played. He said ‘I would love you to come to Tottenham’. I told him about my situation, I think he knew anyway, and that was the best call of my life.

“That changed everything in my life, not only in my professional career but personal as well.”

Ex-Tottenham forward Garth Crooks told BBC Sport he was “devastated by the news that Terry Venables has left the football world”.

“The game has lost another ambassador. He was a great communicator, tactician and football manager with a wonderful sense of humour,” said Crooks.

Former Tottenham defender Neil Ruddock, who captained the club under Venables, told BBC Breakfast: “Every player who played for him, loved him.

“He was like your favourite uncle. He taught me how to conduct myself off the pitch. He made me a better person.”

“He not only created teams, he could handle the big names. In fact the bigger the names the better he handled them. He will be remembered for taking England so close to winning the Euros in 1996 but I will remember him for starting the extraordinary dynasty at Barcelona.

“He won the Spanish title and took them to the European Cup final against Steaua Bucharest. He is one of the few managers who have won the FA Cup as a player for Tottenham and as a manager. He has made a massive contribution to the beautiful game and he will be sorely missed.”

Former England defender Gary Neville wrote on social media: “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.

“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.”

Bryan Robson, who coached alongside Venables with England and Middlesbrough, said: “Terry was a brilliant coach to work with and I learned so much from him. He was very good tactically, but also a great motivator and communicator.

“Everyone who worked with Terry will always remember him as someone who lived life with a smile on his face.”

Steve McClaren brought Venables back into the England set-up as his assistant in 2006.

“Terry was a true gentleman and a coach always ahead of his time. Working with him for England was a pleasure and an education, and he helped me enormously to deal with the pressures around the job,” said McClaren.

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