Mike England was a commanding centre-half who won most things in the air and also crafted a reputation as a ball playing defender, with a good range of passes, who developed a great understanding with Phil Beal during a successful period in the club's history.
Born two miles outside
Holywell in North Wales, England
went to Basingwerk Secondary Modern School.
began playing in Wales, he started off as a schoolboy
winger and inside forward in the same team as
Southampton forward Ron Davies, but had converted into one of the back four by
the time Blackburn Rovers became interested in him and
signed him at the age of 15.
In his first eight league games for Rovers, he played in
five different positions, including one match at
inside-left !! Tall, strongly built and with long legs, the games
he played in his seven years for Rovers saw him quickly impress followers
of the game and none more so than Bill Nicholson, whenever
he put in a very good performance against Spurs.
England's international debut came in
against Northern Ireland and he played alongside Cliff
Jones and Mel Hopkins, with Danny Blanchflower and Terry
Neill on other side.
At the time, Mike was also the youngest captain Wales had appointed, aged just 22 years and 135 days, for a Home International against Northern Ireland on 15th April 1964 at the Vetch Field, Swansea.
The signing of Mike England from recently relegated Blackburn Rovers was a British record for a defender at the time, signing the day before the 1966-67 season started. The Welshman came in to replace Maurice Norman and played 50 consecutive games after being introduced at the start of the 1966-67 season, his first game against Leeds United in the first game of the season was played in a heatwave as Spurs won 3-1. His debut season ended as an ever-present in the league and with a FA Cup winners medal, after he marked Chelsea centre-forward Tony Hateley out of the game. Noted as a fine header of the ball, England won most of the aerial challenges and his Wembley performance won him a place in the hearts of the fans for many years to come.
The giant Welshman was an almost ever present through his Spurs career, with only the odd game missed through injury, but he amassed 397 appearances for Tottenham at centre-half. Tall and strappingly built, England was also very good with his feet. A fine timer of a tackle and a very good passer of the ball, Mike brought a lot more to the team than just height. In addition to all this, he was handed the responsibility for finding the heads of Alan Gilzean or Martin Chivers from free-kicks deep inside his own half, something he was very adept at doing. Conversely, he was often the one on the end of long-throws from Chivers or Gilzean, as his height and power made him a dangerous presence from set-pieces.
Unfortunately, an ankle injury picked up at the end of the semi-final against Bristol City saw him ruled out of the League Cup final against Aston Villa in 1971, with Peter Collins standing in at centre-half, but Mike was back at his best for the UEFA Cup win in 1972 over Wolves and the 1973 victory against Norwich City in the League Cup final.
Mike also scored a towering header in the 1973 UEFA Cup final first leg to give Spurs an early lead against Feyenoord, but it was his presence that worried Dutch defender Joop van Daele to put the ball into his own net and to put Tottenham 2-0 ahead.
He suddenly announced his retirement after a series of ankle problems, in March 1975, although he played a further season with Cardiff City (helping them to promotion to the Second Division) and then in the US league for a couple of seasons, becoming captain of the Seattle Sounders in 1976. In the same year, Mike was selected to represent Team America against Brazil and England in the American Bicentennial Soccer Cup tournament. While at Seattle, England played with Geoff Hurst, former Spurs winger Jimmy Robertson, Roger Cross (to become Gerry Francis' assistant manager at THFC) and Harry Redknapp, who was later to become manager of Spurs.
While in America, he ran an antique shop in Seattle and coached football at the local Lakeside High School.
Mike returned home to Wales and became a popular and successful manager of the national team from 1979 to 1987, when the Welsh side came close to qualifying for the finals of major tournaments and his efforts were rewarded with a MBE for his services to Welsh football.
The sudden nature of his departure and the club's inability to replace him with a similarly dominating centre-half for many years left the fans yearning for England's presence and while he is revered by many Tottenham supporters, he has shunned a return to the ground where he made his name and his reputation as one of the best defenders the club ever had.
Married to Gwen and had children Wayne, Darren and Gabrielle.
Last heard of managing a nursing home in Wales.