A tribute to Justin Edinburgh

by Alex Margam

While many Spurs fans may not remember the 90s with much fondness, the club won two major footballing honours: the FA Cup in 1991 and the League Cup in 1999. And Edinburgh was the only player to win both

In a 90s period of turbulence and instability, Justin Edinburgh was one of Spurs’ constants. A powerhouse, a heart-on-your-sleeve wearing full-back, Edinburgh was always ready for the battle. He was an honest player with a strong self-belief and fierce determination to put every ounce of his being into the game. 

While many Spurs fans may not remember the 90s with much fondness, the club won two major footballing honours: the FA Cup in 1991 and the League Cup in 1999. And Edinburgh was the only player to win both. An achievement that will leave his name forever etched into Tottenham’s history. 

In the 1991 campaign, Edinburgh forced his way into the first-team, starting in our spectacular 3-1 semi-final win over Woolwich at Wembley. In the final, he took his position once again, helping the team to a 2-1 victory over Nottingham Forest and an 8th FA Cup – at the time, a record number for any English club. 

The triumph was a dream come true for a man who had been playing in the Fourth Division, only 12 months earlier. And, it marked the beginning of a meteoric rise in the game for Edinburgh. 

For 10 years at Spurs, Edinburgh pulled on the lily-white colours on 276 occasions. When you think of the 90s and those beautiful Holsten and HP kits, it’s likely you’ll think of him somewhere in amongst there, as a loyal servant who always gave his all for the fans that cheered him on.

A deserved farewell present, the 1999 League Cup saw Edinburgh play a pivotal role in the road to Wembley. Unfairly dismissed in the final after some play-acting by Robbie Savage, Edinburgh and Spurs got the last laugh with Allan Nielsen’s diving header taking the cup back to North London. All was forgiven, and anyway, who could’ve blamed him for wanting to give one to Savage.

With his playing career becoming plagued by injury, Edinburgh moved into management and he certainly made a success of it. First at Newport County, Edinburgh achieved the club’s return to the Football League after a painful 25-year absence. Then, most recently at a struggling Leyton Orient, he guided the O’s to champions of the National League against all odds, and saw them promoted back to the Football League where they belong. 

Among tributes to Edinburgh, former team-mate Gary Mabbutt said he believed Edinburgh ‘could have even been a Spurs manager in the future’. Extremely high praise showing just how well Edinburgh was regarded, and how incredibly successful he’d been in in such a short managerial career. 

You can be absolutely certain he’d have accepted the offer with open arms. In Madrid for the final, he clearly still held the club close to his heart. Tottenham was his club, and we all knew it, as he belted out all the old songs at the fan park just under a fortnight ago. 

In the videos that have circulated on social media, you see a manager like any one of the lads in the dressing room. Not just a lover of the game, but a lover of the camaraderie, the togetherness and the shared bond. An equal who in his own words was ‘not here for the sake of it’ but ‘here for the f***ing memories’.

The tragic events of last Saturday have affected the whole football community. The game is in mourning to a great man, who was loved so dearly by so many. You only have to see the sheer number of tributes to know how deeply admired and respected he was. His loss has left a massive hole in the heart of English football.

His memory will always live on. Those of ’91, and ’99, and Orient, Newport, Gillingham, Southend and so many more, will always remember him.

Rest in Peace Justin. 

All our thoughts and love are with his family and friends.

Author

Alex Margam

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