Cliff Jones

Football's Pioneers: Cliff Jones

Leicester City work with De Montfort University’s International Centre for Sports History & Culture on various heritage projects. Today, Professor Martin Polley, the director of the Centre, tells the story of Tottenham Hotspur’s goalscoring winger, Cliff Jones.
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It is not every winger who can claim to have scored a hat-trick past Gordon Banks. But Jones, who managed it in Spurs’ 6-2 defeat of Leicester City in 1965, was no ordinary winger. A World Cup quarter-finalist with Wales in 1958, a key member of Tottenham’s double-winning side of 1960/61, a European Cup Winners' Cup victor in 1963, and a prolific scorer and supplier of goals over a 19-year career, Jones was one of a kind.

Born in Swansea in 1935, Jones signed for his hometown club at the age of 17 after a stint in the steel mills, and he never forgot his roots as ‘Swansea Jack’. Following in his father Ivor’s footsteps at the Vetch, Jones clocked up 47 goals in 168 appearances before leaving for north London in 1958 for £35,000.

At Tottenham, he flourished under Bill Nicholson, providing both crowd-pleasing entertainment and plenty of goals. He played in 29 league games in the 1960/61 championship season, and in five of the matches in the FA Cup run.

He starred in the final, when Spurs claimed the double with a 2-0 win over the Foxes. Jones remained at the heart of this team that retained the cup in 1962, and he was in the side that overcame Atlético Madrid 5-1 in the final of the 1963 Cup Winners' Cup. 

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Cliff Jones
Cliff Jones

Cliff Jones created hero status at Tottenham Hotspur.

Tottenham saw off a six-figure transfer bid for Jones from Juventus, and kept him until the end of 1967/68, when he crossed London to Fulham. After two years at Craven Cottage, he played one non-league season for King’s Lynn, before retiring from the game and becoming a PE teacher.

As well as his role in the famous Tottenham team, Jones’ reputation also rests on his contribution to Wales’ 1958 World Cup journey.

An ever-present in the group games against Hungary, Mexico, and hosts Sweden, and in the shock play-off defeat of Hungary, Jones played well in the quarter-finals, where Wales lost 1-0 to Brazil, the only goal scored by a youngster known as Pelé.

Jones has been compared to Gareth Bale. His high goal tally, for a winger, was down to his unorthodox style. A natural right-footer, he played on both wings. His trademark was to run inwards at defenders, rather than trying to outflank them to cross from the touchline, and to then pass or shoot. 

It is Jones’ role in the double-winning team, and the glories that followed, that have cemented his role as a hero at Tottenham. His 159 goals in all competitions leave him as the club’s fifth highest goalscorer, behind Jimmy Greaves, Harry Kane, Bobby Smith and Martin Chivers. 

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