Mr. C is back to deliver minority report on yet another subject, this time Paul “Ollie” Allen.
There comes a time as a writer when you have to sit back, assess peoples’ view and accept you may have been wrong, and having read the feedback with regards to my Steffen Freund article Iâ€™m happy to announce that . . . . this isnâ€™t one of those moments.
So much was written in the responses that he gave 100% every game and would run through brick walls for the club, but correct me if Iâ€™m wrong; how does that ever elevate a player to Legend status? I could give you a dozen players who have given just as much commitment over the years; the only difference is most of them knew how to play.
Over the last 20 years, I have been blessed in seeing some of the most precocious talents ply their trade at White Hart Lane. Hoddle, Ardilles, Waddle, Lineker, Gascoigne, Klinsmann, Ginola and now Berbatov; some of the world’s best players, and while success has been at a premium, it says a lot about our history and traditions that we are still able to attract these top players to the club.
I guess itâ€™s because of my appreciation of the players mentioned that I find it so hard to accept chaff like Steffen Freund and Ramon Vega.
Whilst I appreciate the Freund-ettes will never fully understand my loathing of one of their heroes, I feel it is only right to highlight a player who, in my eyes, was everything the German wasnâ€™t, and in my view the most underrated player I have ever seen in a Spurs shirt. He didnâ€™t need to pump his fists to the crowd; his ability got him respect.
Stuart Pearce once described this player as one of the hardest opponents he ever faced, while Gazza stated he was one of the best players he played with at Tottenham; high praise indeed. But anyone who followed Tottenham, home and away, in the late 80s and early 90s would appreciate their sentiments when it comes to assessing the contribution of Paul â€œOllieâ€ Allen.
The guy had everything; 100% committed, tiger in the tackle, skilful and most importantly, he contributed greatly in the final third. He was complete, yet how he was constantly overlooked at international level is a total mystery to me. There were no heirs and graces with Ollie; what you saw was what you got – a passionate footballer who played with so much heart; the type of player we are so desperately short of in Jolâ€™s squad at the moment.
Ollie first really came into prominence in a Tottenham shirt in the 1986-87 season when he had the unenviable task of playing ball-winner behind the likes of Hoddle, Waddle and Ardilles. But for me it was the 1990-91 season when Allen had his finest hour. Gazza always seem to get the plaudits during that cup run, but it was Paul Allen who was the real driving force in winning the FA Cup that year, especially in the semi-final and Final where, in my opinion, there was no better player on the pitch.
They say hindsight is a wonderful thing in football and I often wonder whether Ardilles rued his decision in letting Paul Allen go so early in his reign. I appreciate that Ossie wanted to give youth a chance and we were riding high at the time, but was it just coincidence that his departure coincided with the teams decline and the eventual relegation battle we ultimately faced.
Paul Allen would always make it in my best Tottenham X1 of the last 20 years. I donâ€™t think I have ever seen a Spurs player, with maybe the exception of Mabbutt, put in as much effort on a football pitch as he did.
I’ll never forget the game at The Dell when he was playing for Southampton and he helped to beat us 1-0. The result would normally have seen Spurs fans leaving in their droves, but not on this occasion; we wanted to pay our respects to the man. It must have been a good 5 to 10 minutes before Allen decided to drag himself away from Spurs fans balling his eyes out.
I donâ€™t think I have ever seen a Spurs player get such a reception; he deserved that moment as for so long he had always been in the shadows of more illustrious names. I donâ€™t ever remember Steffen Freund getting such a reception on his return with Leicester. A Legend? He wasnâ€™t fit to tie up Ollieâ€™s boots!