Who was the only England manager to be effectively sacked by the prime minister?
This could be a decent enough quiz question. The answer and the story behind all this is pretty bizarre, though.
In the summer of 1996, Glenn Hoddle succeeded Terry Venables as England's manager.
He led England to a World Cup appearance in 1998 and following their ordinary result, he was sacked in the following year.
Yes and no.
The story starts in 1976. Hoddle was a promising 17-year old in Tottenham Hotspur. When he suffered a hamstring injury, at the insistence of his girlfriend, he met her mother Eileen Drewery. She was supposedly a great practitioner of 'remote healing'. Hoddle's injury cleared up immediately. This led him to believe Eileen's work.
Hoddle turned to Eileen whenever he needed support and things didn't change one bit when he became the manager of England two decades later.
Hoddle wanted his players to use her services. He had by then started to rely on Eileen's fitness reports!
She probably had her say in team selections as well.
In late 1998, Hoddle wrote a book on his world cup campaign. The players didn't like how openly Hoddle discussed all their 'secrets' in the book. Moreover, seven pages were dedicated to Eileen's work and her supernatural powers.
In January 1999, his interview was published in The Times.
" You and I have been physically given two hands and two legs and half-decent brains. Some people have not been born like that. And it's for a reason. The karma is working from another lifetime. What you sow you reap."
Well, not what one expects to hear from a national team's manager!
There was widespread speculation about Hoddle and his ways of working with the team. It was said that one Indian magazine even suggested that Hoddle should become India's coach ( where else can one hide behind such garbage!).
Then, finally, on television, Tony Blair was asked about Hoddle.
"Should the England manager be sacked?"
"Yes, on balance I believe he should go."
That was it. On 2nd February 1999, he was called to the FA headquarters at Lancaster Gate and the deed was swiftly done!