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The Review - BOOKS
Published: 10 January 2008
Martin Jol (right) on the touchline with former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho
Martin Jol (right) on the touchline with former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho
White heart in the right place

The night former Tottenham boss Martin Jol was sacked sparked an emotional response from Spurs fans over a man they took to their hearts, writes Dan Carrier

Martin Jol – The Inside Story.
By Harry Harris
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FOOTBALL fans are a sentimental lot, and perhaps Spurs fans are more misty-eyed than most.
We go gooey at almost anything. It’s relentless: the legends that surround the club, tales of the tantalising football played at the Lane, of the glorious cup runs and the first-ever Double...
So when I picked up the official biography of our recently departed manager Martin Jol, I can be excused for having a bit of a lump in my throat.
I recall feeling a deep, kick-the-cat-style anger the October morning after he was fired. How could we be so silly to get rid of the genial Dutchman, the person who had given us a couple of good seasons of league football and restored our faith?
As I write, nearly two months after Jol was dumped, my loyalty has waned: our new manager Juande Ramos has got the team on the march again.
But picking up this book has brought all the memories rushing back and my emotions are something akin to grief.
In the first chapter, which Jol has penned himself, the story behind his bizarre last few months at the Lane is finally told.
“I still don’t know the full truth about all that went on the day Spurs finally decided to sack me,” he writes with an honesty which marked his time at the club.
“But it is important that everyone realises that I did not know I had been sacked before the game and that I was told, officially, after it. Had I been told before the game I would not have taken the team out, I would not have sat on the bench or been in the right frame of mind to lead the team out that night. I just couldn’t have done it.”
He is talking, of course, about the bizarre evening when Spurs played Getaffe in the Uefa Cup and it came out at half time that Jol was being given the sack. As rumours washed round the Lane, the fans stood and chanted his name incessantly. It was a truly moving moment. For true Spurs fans, it will make you feel as sick as the proverbial as Jol puts his side of the story over – and says he wants to come back in a few years and finish the job he started when the current board have moved on.
“Maybe one day I will come back to Tottenham,” he writes. “I’m a fighter. I still have that feeling that you never know. I was thinking of Ottmar Hitzfeld. He left Bayern Munich, waited two and half years, then returned. In a couple of years I’m not sure the same people will be at Tottenham [on the board].
“I can only say that I hope the readers of this book concerning my exit from the Lane will cherish my pride and satisfaction of having been part of the history of the great club that is Tottenham Hotspur.”
But there is more to this biography by Harry Harris than the traumatic final few months. Harris, the chief football writer for the Daily Express, is a lifelong Spurs fan and has reported on the club since his days on the Tottenham Herald in the 1970s, and he has created a very readable sports biog.
He uncovers Jol’s career as a hardman midfielder who played for Bayern Munich, West Brom and Coventry, but perhaps more interesting is the other side to Jol: he is well educated and cultured – something which became apparent in his first press conference for Spurs.
He seemed to delight in talking in football clichés to wind up journalists before breaking ranks and telling the reporters what he really thought.
He has a deep appreciation of art and books, and is a scholar of Kafka.
Above all, he was a good coach who earned the respect of his players.
Hopefully this book will ensure that, although we’ve moved on and are 100 per cent behind the Ramos revolution, we’ll remember the Jol years with a fondness rarely saved for former gaffers.

• Martin Jol – The Inside Story.
By Harry Harris. Know the Score Books £19.99

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