Terry Venables at FC Barcelona

Terry Venables, the brilliant British coach who led FC Barcelona to a La Liga title in 1984-85 after an 11-year drought, has died on Sunday at the age of 80. He was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, report Mundo Deportivo.

Venables arrived at Barcelona the season after Diego Maradona left for Napoli to replace César Luis Menotti and stayed at the club for three full seasons (1984-85, 1985-86 and 1986-87) before being sacked at the start of the fourth season (1987-88).

A penalty shoot-out defeat to Steaua Bucharest in Seville prevented him from guiding Barça to their first ever European Cup, which did not come until six years later at Wembley with club icon Johan Cruyff in the dugout. In that 1985-86 season, the Blaugrana lost the Copa del Rey final to Real Zaragoza at Atlético Madrid’s Vicente Calderón stadium thanks to a goal from Rubén Sosa.

Winning La Liga

In 1984-85, Barça picked up 21 wins, 11 draws and two defeats in 38 games and won the league title under Venables with four games to go. In 1985-86, Barça finished 11 points behind rivals Real Madrid in the first of the five consecutive league titles for the ‘Quinta del Buitre’ but the Catalan club came close to lifting the European title, beating Sparta Prague, FC Porto, Juventus, and Gothenburg in the semi-finals with an incredible comeback before losing to Steaua in the final in Seville.

After the final, Barça rebuilt with the signings of Andoni Zubizarreta and Robert Fernández as well as British forwards Gary Lineker and Mark Hughes, and came within three points of the league title but were knocked out of the UEFA Cup, against Dundee United in the quarter-finals.

A poor start to the following season with just two points from eight games resulted in Venables losing his job in September 1987. Luis Aragonés took over in what was a turbulent year for the club and Venables returned to the UK to manage Tottenham Hotspur, where earlier on Sunday he was remembered ahead of the Premier League match between Tottenham and Aston Villa in London.

Rest in peace, El Tel.

Kieran Quaile | GSFN

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