Pat Jennings

Pat Jennings
Jennings in 2018
Personal information
Full name Patrick Anthony Jennings
Date of birth (1945-06-12) 12 June 1945 (age 78)
Place of birth Newry, Northern Ireland
Height 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Position(s) Goalkeeper
Youth career
1956 Shamrock Rovers (Newry)
1961–1963 Newry Town
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1963–1964 Watford 48 (0)
1964–1977 Tottenham Hotspur 472 (0)
1977–1985 Arsenal 237 (0)
1986 Everton 0 (0)
Total 757 (0)
International career
1964–1986 Northern Ireland 119 (0)
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Patrick Anthony Jennings CBE (born 12 June 1945) is a Northern Irish former professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper. Jennings is widely recognised as one of the greatest goalkeepers in history

He played 119 international matches for Northern Ireland in an international career which lasted for over 22 years. During his career, Jennings played for Newry Town, Watford and in the top division with Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, winning the FA Cup with both of the north London rivals. In total, Jennings made over 1,000 top level appearances, and despite being a goalkeeper, he scored from play in the 1967 FA Charity Shield.

Club career

Newry Town & Watford

After playing for a local under-18 side in Newry at the age of 11 (named Shamrock Rovers, not to be confused with the Dublin club of the same name), Jennings concentrated on Gaelic football until he was sixteen years old, when he made his football comeback with his hometown side Newry Town. After impressing with the team he moved to English Third Division side Watford in May 1963. Jennings again impressed in his first season in England, playing every league game for his club, and making two international appearances that season. He was signed by Tottenham Hotspur for £27,000 in June 1964.

Tottenham Hotspur

Jennings spent thirteen years at White Hart Lane, where he played in 472 league games for Spurs, and 591 in all competitions. He won the FA Cup in 1967, the League Cup in 1971 and 1973, and the UEFA Cup in 1972. He also scored once, in the 1967 Charity Shield, from his own area, kicking the ball from his hands and sending a large punt down the field that bounced over Manchester United goalkeeper Alex Stepney and into the net. In 1973 the Football Writers' Association named him as its footballer of the year. Three years later he won PFA's version of the award – he was the first goalkeeper to receive this accolade, and to this date remains only one of two, along with Peter Shilton.


On 6 August 1977, he was transferred to Tottenham's arch-rivals, Arsenal, with Tottenham thinking he was nearing the end of his career. However, Jennings saw off rivals for the goalkeeper's jersey to play for Arsenal for another eight years. Whilst at Highbury, he helped Arsenal to four Cup finals in three successive years; the FA Cup final in 1978, 1979, and 1980, as well as the European Cup Winners Cup final that year. However, Arsenal only managed to win the second of these finals, a 3–2 victory against Manchester United. In total, Jennings made 327 appearances for Arsenal, 237 of them in the League, between 1977 and his eventual retirement from first-team club football in 1985. On 26 February 1983, he became the first player in English football to make 1,000 senior appearances, celebrating this milestone with a clean sheet in a goalless league draw for Arsenal at West Bromwich Albion. Jennings played his last game in the league for Arsenal against Sheffield Wednesday 25 November 1984 [citation needed], and he was finally replaced by John Lukic as the first choice keeper. A farewell match for Jennings was played against Tottenham Hotspur 8 May 1985 at Highbury.

Later career

After his retirement, Jennings returned to Tottenham Hotspur, playing mostly in their reserve side to maintain his match sharpness for Northern Ireland's 1986 World Cup campaign. His final appearance for Tottenham was in the Football League Super Cup against Liverpool in January 1986. He was also briefly on Everton's books, having been signed as goalkeeping cover for the 1986 FA Cup Final against Liverpool, Neville Southall having been injured playing for Wales.

International career

Jennings defending his goal against the Netherlands (1976)

Jennings made his Northern Ireland debut as an eighteen-year-old, whilst playing for Watford. This game, on 15 April 1964, was a British Home Championship match against Wales, Northern Ireland won the game 3–2; George Best made his international debut in the same game. He made four appearances in Northern Ireland’s best-ever performance at the 1982 World Cup, conceding only one goal in the three first group stage games — including a 1-0 win with 10 men against hosts Spain — before letting four past him against eventual group D winners France in the second group stage games.

Despite retiring from club football in 1985, Jennings played his final international game at the 1986 World Cup, on his 41st birthday, making him at the time the World Cup's oldest-ever participant. The match was Northern Ireland's final group game, a 3–0 defeat against Brazil. In total, Jennings participated in the qualifying stages of six World Cups between 1966 and 1986.


Following his retirement Jennings has worked as a goalkeeping coach. He has worked at Tottenham in this capacity since 1993. In 2003 Jennings was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of the skills he demonstrated in the English league. His son, also named Pat, is also a goalkeeper, having played for League of Ireland clubs University College Dublin, Derry City, Shamrock Rovers and NIFL Premiership club Glenavon.

Jennings and his family have lived for many years in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, where his son attended The Broxbourne School along with the sons of fellow Spurs players Chris Hughton, Osvaldo Ardiles and Ray Clemence. He is still associated with Spurs and hosts Corporate Hospitality fans in the Pat Jennings Lounges at White Hart Lane and Windsor Park, Belfast.

Personal life

Jennings married Eleanor Toner, a singer from Newry, in 1967. They have four children: Mairead, Siobhan, Ciara and Patrick Junior, a goalkeeper. Jennings is Catholic.


Jennings was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to association football in the 1976 Birthday Honours; he was promoted to Officer of the same Order (OBE) in the 1987 New Year Honours for services to football, particularly in Northern Ireland, and promoted further to Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2023 New Year Honours for services to association football and charity. On 8th November 2023, Pat unveiled a statue in his honour in Kildare St, Newry.



Tottenham Hotspur



See also

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