Despite his name suggesting Franco undertones, Maurice Norman was born in Mulbarton, Norfolk on 8th May 1934. Norman, along with Peter Baker and Ron Henry, formed the defensive backbone that led Tottenham Hotspur to the Double in 1960/61, the FA Cup the following year, and the Cup Winners Cup in 1963. Norman was also a full England international, and won 23 caps for his country.
Norman began his career with Norwich City, and between 1952 and 1955, Norman represented the Canaries in 35 league matches. Despite his brief career in East Anglia, Norman was inducted into the Norwich City Hall of Fame in 2002. However, it was at Tottenham that Norman made his name, with Tottenham manager Jimmy Anderson signing the player on 7 November 1955 for £28,000, with Johnny Gavin moving in the opposite direction.
Norman was signed to replace Alf Ramsey at full-back, and he immediately took to the role. However, in September 1956, Norman suffered serious injury that kept him out for six months, with Peter Baker being promoted from the youth team to cover at right full-back. By the time Norman returned to full fitness, Baker was first choice, and would not be dislodged from the position until Cyril Knowles replaced him in 1964.
This proved to be a stroke of good fortune for Tottenham, as it transpired that Norman would have been wasted at right full-back, as by the end of the 1956/57 season, Norman replaced Jon Ryden at centre-half, and would make the position his own for the next seven years. Norman became one of the best centre-backs in the game, winning both domestic and European titles with Tottenham, and representing England 23 times. Norman made his England debut against Peru on 20 May 1962 at 28, and earned his last cap against Holland on 9th December 1964 aged 30.
Norman was a tall, strong player, and was formidable in the air. Norman was one of the first defenders sent up to attack corners, an idea Spurs captain Danny Blanchflower is credited with. Defensively, it is believed that Norman’s aerial prowess papered over goalkeeper Bill Brown’s weakness in the air. Further, his experience playing at right-back gave him a good positional sense, as well as leaving the player comfortable with the ball at his feet.
Maurice Norman would miss just one game in the double winning season of 1960/61, and throughout his career with the Lilywhites Monty, or Swede as he was also known, would make 411 appearances and score 19 goals. His career came to an abrupt end at 31 years old, when, after being pushed to left full-back after the arrival of Laurie Brown, Norman suffered an horrific leg-break in a friendly with a Hungarian Select XI in November 1965. Despite a two year fight to save his career, ‘Monty’ would never play for Tottenham again.
A lynchpin of Tottenham’s Double Winning side, Maurice Norman remains one of the best defenders the club has ever had.
The Lane Of Dreams author, Norman Giller is currently writing a new book on Tottenham’s Double side and that season. Do you have any memories you might like to share and perhaps see in print? Contact Norman direct by clicking on the Lane Of Dreams banner.
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