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Harry Rednkapp autobiography: When I had to play a fan… and he scored
Former Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp published his autobiography on October tenth, revealing some fabulous stories. The book, Always Managing, featured one inspiring story of the time when Redknapp had to play a fan, who Redknapp named Tittishev, because of a lack of substitutes in a friendly against Oxford City, only for the Hammer’s supporter to score.
“At West Ham in 1994 we had two pre-season friendlies on the same night,” the passage began. “One team went to Billericay and I took a group to play my old club, Oxford City.
The minute the match started, this bloke next to the dug-out started giving me earache. He wasn’t nasty. There was no foul language, but he did look a picture. He had a T-shirt on and shorts and every spare inch of him was covered in West Ham tattoos. He didn’t fancy Lee Chapman, our striker, one bit.
‘We ain’t got him up front again, have we Harry? Please don’t pick him, he’s a donkey. He’s useless.’
On it went, he wouldn’t leave me alone. I made two substitutions at half-time and one early in the second half and now we just had the bare XI. With that, we got an injury. I had no other option. I turned round to big mouth.
‘You’ve got some old bunny,’ I said. ‘Can you play as good as you talk?’
‘I’m better than Chapman,’ he said. ‘Right,’ I said. ‘Get your gear on.’ He thought I was joking. ‘What do you mean?’ he said. ‘You’re playing for West Ham,’ I told him.
He came back, kitted up and stood on the touchline. ‘Where do you play?’ I asked. ‘Up front,’ he said.
‘Right,’ I said, ‘we’ll soon see if you’re better than Chapman.’ And on he went. Oxford’s announcer came down and wanted to know who the sub was. ‘Didn’t you watch the World Cup?’ I asked. ‘That’s Tittishev of Bulgaria. He scored three goals.’
‘Oh yes,’ he said, nodding wisely. ‘I thought it was him.’
Anyway, he scored. We couldn’t believe it. He ran round the field like he’d won the World Cup — we were killing ourselves on the touchline.
The lads all signed his shirt and he was in the paper the next day with the biggest grin you’ve seen. And he was right. That night, he was better than bloody Lee Chapman.”