A shock of blond hair and a leg that extended out of nowhere to rob an advancing forward were Phil Beal's trademarks and it was only his misfortune to play at a time when Bobby Moore occupied his position in the England side that he never made it to the national team, as his assured and effortless performances would surely have made him a regular in the England side in any other era.
Beal's high level of performance over his time at Tottenham made him both a regular in the side and a favourite among the fans. Never one to be outspoken nor throw a fit of temper, his calmness and his partnership with centre-half Mike England produced a successful period of cup wins in Spurs history under the management of Bill Nicholson.
Phil was born in Godalming in Surrey, but moved to Bletchingley and attended St. Katherines School. Didn't go to much league football as no team nearby, so Phil watched Athenian League side Redhill. He played for the Surrey County Boys side and it was playing for them against Kent at the Valley that Spurs spotted Beal. He had intended to have a career as a steward in the Merchant Navy, but fate and football stepped in to change the course of his life.
Brought to the club as a 17 year old, after he was spotted playing for Surrey Schoolboys against Kent at the Valley by Spurs assistant manager Harry Clarke, who invited him for a trial and he was signed up quickly, as he impressed the watching coaching staff. Phil progressed through the youth ranks and signed on as an amateur in May 1960. He became an apprentice and then Spurs moved to sign him up as a professional on 20th January 1962 and while he was often in the England Youth squad, he was usually not in the team, although his one selection saw Beal only enjoy eight minutes of the game against Switzerland before fog descended and the game was abandoned. Before making his first appearance as as a replacement for the great Danny Blanchflower, Phil's early forays into the first team were sporadic, as he filled in at a number of positions, as injury provided. When Maurice Norman unfortunately broke his leg in a friendly match in 1965, it was Beal who came in as cover and the injury eventually lead to Norman retiring, giving Beal his chance for a continued run in the side.
He had to be patient to get his chance in the first team, but once he made his debut, Phil became a calm, reassuring presence in the side. In a strange twist of fate, a broken arm robbed Beal of a place in the 1967 FA Cup final team, which beat Chelsea 2-1. Once more, Phil became a victim of his own versatility, as he was seen a a useful player to cover in a number of positions, meaning he was given odd games here and there and only when Dave Mackay left for Derby County did he finally find a place in the side to make his own. Beal's talents were not going to go unused and it was almost a sweeper's role that he was deployed in - with the dominating figure of Mike England going for the first header, with Beal covering behind – it was a partnership that grew stronger over the years. Sitting in the deeper position gave Beal the opportunity to read the game in front of him and this produced a good relationship with the other defenders and Pat Jennings behind him.
The team clicked in the early 1970s and went on to win the League Cups of 1971 and 1973 and the UEFA Cup of 1972, but they lost the 1974 UEFA Cup Final amid scenes of hooliganism in Rotterdam. It was fitting reward for the service and effort he gave the club during his time at White Hart Lane. Phil's consistency saw him play 55 games in the 1973-74 season – more than any other player.
With changes being introduced into the team, Terry Neill released Phil, allowing him to join Brighton and Hove Albion on a free transfer in July 1975. Spurs had wanted to hold onto the defender, but he felt that at this stage of his career he wanted to move on and he spent a year at Brighton, before trying his luck in America with a couple of clubs and eventually returned to England and had a short spell back in the league with Crewe Alexandra, finishing his league career in a game at Peterborough United on 15th September 1979. Continued to play on in the non-league with Chelmsford City and Oxford City, where the man who kept him out of the England reckoning, Bobby Moore, was his manager.
Only scored one goal for Tottenham, which came at Loftus Road against QPR on 29th January 1969.
Was a chauffeur on leaving the game, running a car hire company near Heathrow airport. Went on to work for an airline in the West Country, but is often seen as a match-day host at White Hart Lane.