When Terry Venables sang Elvis Presley's 'If I Can Dream' and proved he was an amazing singer

27 November 2023, 14:39

Former England manager Terry Venables dies aged 80

By Mayer Nissim

One of England's greatest football managers had many strings to his bow.

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This weekend, the football world paid tribute to one of the greatest England football managers, after Terry Venables died at the age of 80

El Tel, as he was nicknamed during his successful managerial stint at Barcelona, only headed up the national team for two-and-a-half years in the mid-1990s, but had an incredible impact.

Venables managed England during Euro '96, a footballing and cultural moment which saw England achieve their best result in a major tournament since they won the World Cup in 1996, when they reached the semi-finals before a heartbreaking exit to Germany on penalties.

After his time with England, Tel went on to manage Australia, Crystal Palace, Middlesborough and Leeds United, and also worked as a TV pundit.

Euro 96 Highlights | Netherlands 1-4 England | ITV Sport

He died on Saturday (November 25) after a long illness at the age of 80, with Tottenham Hotspur paying tribute to him with a minute's applause before their defeat to Aston Villa on Sunday.

But as well as his footballing achievements, Venables led a bit of a double life.

His parents Fred and Myrtle Venables were fine singers and encouraged the young Terry to take up the pursuit.

England Crazy - World Cup Song - Terry Venables with Leo Green/Matt Holland/Ralph Salmins..

When he was 17, he had some success after entering a Butlins singing competition, but his football club Chelsea banned him from competing in the final stages as it would interfere with his playing career.

But Terry never gave up his love for singing, and became friends with stars like Adam Faith and Tommy Steele.

He played one show with the Joe Loss Band at the Hammersmith Palais, before deciding to fully concentrate on his football.

Terry Venables 'If I Can Dream' - The Official Video

Yet in his later life he juggled his TV work and football management with the odd bit of high-profile singing – even scoring a couple of chart hits in the process.

In 2002, while Sven-Göran Eriksson was managing England at the World Cup in South Korea and Japan, Venables helped provide the musical backdrop with the single 'England Crazy', recorded with the band Rider.

Ahead of the World Cup in 2010, he did even better. Venables recorded a cover of the Elvis Presley classic 'If I Can Dream' as part of a campaign for The Sun.

Terry Venables, Bobby Robson and Stuart Pearce in 2004
Terry Venables, Bobby Robson and Stuart Pearce in 2004. Picture: Getty Images

Ably assisted by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and a choir including fellow famous football names Harry Redknapp and Ian Wright, Venables scored an incredibly respectable number 23 hit.

And it wasn't just the pop world that was sprinkled with a bit of that classic El Tel charm.

Terry co-wrote five novels with writer Gordon Williams in the 1970s: They Used to Play on Grass (1972), The Bornless Keeper (1974), Hazell Plays Solomon (1974), Hazell and the Three Card Trick (1975), and Hazell and the Menacing Jester (1976).

Hazell (UK TV series) 1978 - 50fps 1080p HD

Many dismissed Venables's involvement in that first, football-themed, novel as a bit of a gimmick, so he and Gordon used the PB Yuill pseudonym for their other works.

The later books introduced the cockney private detective James Hazell, and it was under the Yuill name that Williams and Venables adapted the material into the 1970s TV series Hazell.

Hazell ran for 22 episodes over two series on ITV from 1978 to 1979, which starred Nicholas Ball in the title role – cementing El Tel's position as so much more than just a footballer and manager.