Premier League Clubs Managed: West Ham United (1994-2001), Portsmouth (2003-2004), (2005-2008), Southampton (2004-2005), Tottenham Hotspur (2008-2012), Queens Park Rangers (2012-2013), (2014-2015)
Harry Redknapp’s career in professional football has spanned a staggering six decades. He had moderate success as a player but in management, has become one of the English game’s most charismatic and enjoyable characters to witness. He remains the last English manager to win the FA Cup when he guided Portsmouth to the trophy in 2008 and in 2018, become the star of the ITV reality programme I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! Redknapp became King of the Jungle.
His son, Jamie Redknapp played under him at both AFC Bournemouth and Southampton whilst the football connections continue with him being uncle to Frank Lampard, who is now making his first steps in management at Derby County.
In his playing career, Redknapp was a midfielder. He began his career at Tottenham Hotspur before moving to West Ham United at the age of 15. He broke into the Hammers first-team in the 1965-1966 season and would spend the next seven seasons in the East End of London. His best campaign was in 1968-1969, where he was a regular fixture in their team, scoring three times in 42 appearances. In total, he made 175 appearances in all competitions for West Ham.
He dropped into Division Three in 1972, joining AFC Bournemouth, spending four seasons on the south coast. In 1976, he got the opportunity to experience the American game, joining Seattle Sounders as a player-coach, reaching the play-offs in his first season out there before losing in the Division Championship final to the Minnesota Kicks. By now, Harry’s playing career was winding down but his time in management was about to get its first significant scalp.
Taking United’s scalp
He began his coaching time as an assistant manager, first to his former teammate Bobby Moore at Oxford City in the Isthmian League, then with David Webb at AFC Bournemouth. When Webb left midway through the 1982-1983 season to take the vacant position at Torquay United, Redknapp applied for the position but the board elected to give the position to Don Megson. It didn’t work out for Megson and when he was sacked with the club in the Third Division relegation zone, Harry was hired as his successor in October 1983.
Months into his first management post, he took a huge scalp as Bournemouth stunned mighty Manchester United in the FA Cup third round, beating the cup holders 2-0. This gained big national publicity and increased his rapport with the supporters which remains today whenever he comes back to The Vitality Stadium as a spectator.
Redknapp’s first major honour as a manager came in 1987 when he guided Bournemouth to the Third Division title when they broke their own club record for most points in a season, amassing 97 by the season’s end. The Cherries stayed at Second Division level for three years before being relegated in 1990. Fate was about to play its part in the next chapter of his career.
Road accident twist
At the 1990 World Cup finals in Italy, Redknapp experienced an event that would change the course of his career. On 30th June in Rome, he was on a chauffeur-driven minibus that was involved in a head-on collision with a car that was carrying three Italian soldiers.
The minibus was flipped onto its roof in the accident and doused in petrol, Redknapp was pulled to safety by York City owner Michael Sinclair, who was travelling with him at the time. He suffered a fractured skull, cracked ribs and a broken nose and also lost all his sense of smell in the accident. Tragically, there were four deaths in the crash. The soldiers in the other vehicle were all killed as was one of his best friends, the Bournemouth managing director, Brian Tiler. Had it not been for Sinclair’s intervention, there is a good chance Redknapp wouldn’t have survived.
Scarred and shattered by the experience, Redknapp returned to Dean Court in time for the new season but the zest had disappeared and he chose to resign from his position as manager at the end of the 1991-1992 season. He decided to return to the other club he’d represented as a player, West Ham United in a reduced capacity.
Redknapp returned to an assistant manager’s role, serving as no.2 to club legend Billy Bonds. It was a role he would hold for the next two seasons and a position he seemed more than comfortable with. However, with his former club Bournemouth keen to rehire him as manager in the summer of 1994, the West Ham board made a decisive decision. They decided to offer Redknapp the managerial position and move Bonds into a role upstairs. Bonds was furious and promptly quit on the eve of the 1994-1995 campaign beginning. Redknapp was now the boss at Upton Park. It damaged the relationship between the two to a point where they didn’t speak to each other for years afterwards.
Redknapp admitted: “It wasn’t a situation I wanted, I was happy working with Billy. I had nine years managing Bournemouth and didn’t want the aggro. But I suppose I came round to it.”
Stabilising the Hammers
Harry Redknapp would remain West Ham manager for seven years and for the majority of that time, enjoyed plenty of success, whilst ensuring the football played at The Boleyn Ground was often exciting for the supporters. Redknapp was keen to see youngsters come through the academy and the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole all made their breakthrough into the senior team under his tenure as Hammers boss.
It was an initial early struggle after succeeding Bonds and West Ham were at the wrong end of the table for the majority of the 1994-1995 season. However, the goals of Tony Cottee kept them safe from relegation, finishing in 14th place at the season’s end. There were crucial victories in the run-in at home to Blackburn Rovers and Liverpool FC and on the final day, their point at home to Manchester United denied the Red Devils a third successive title with the Premier League championship heading to Lancashire and to Blackburn for the first time in 81 years.
West Ham finished in the top half of the table in four of the next five campaigns with their best-ever Premier League finish being recorded in 1998-1999. A 5th place in the table ensured qualification for the much-criticised UEFA Intertoto Cup. West Ham came back early for pre-season that summer to win the competition and earn a place in the UEFA Cup.
However, tensions would rise in his final campaign with the club in 2000-2001. After an underwhelming season with the club in the bottom half of the table, he departed one match before the end of the campaign. It wasn’t until 2007 that Redknapp admitted that he had been sacked by owner Terry Brown. Brown had offered him a four-year contract but when Redknapp made some comments about him to a fanzine, those comments were leaked and reached the owner. Brown was less than impressed. Redknapp said: “I walked into his office expecting to sign the contract and walked out without a job!”
From Pompey to Saints, then back to Pompey
He returned to the managerial dugout at First Division Portsmouth in March 2002, replacing Graham Rix with the club struggling to avoid relegation. Redknapp was already at the club as Director of Football and he moved downstairs after a string of poor performances that even had owner Milan Mandaric threatening not to pay the players. He eventually did after mounting pressure.
After guiding them to safety, Redknapp added experience to the squad with the useful addition of Paul Merson and ex-Derby County boss Jim Smith joined him as assistant manager. Portsmouth stormed to the First Division title in 2002-2003 and were about to embark on Premier League football for the first time.
Survival was achieved in 2003-2004 after an excellent run towards the end of the season that saw the club finish 13th and be the only side out of the three promoted clubs that campaign to avoid the drop. The signings of Teddy Sheringham, Patrik Berger and Steve Stone played a significant part in their impressive debut campaign.
The 2004-2005 season started positively. There was a 4-3 win over Fulham and a super 2-0 success at home to Manchester United, with Yakubu in great goalscoring form. Two wins and two draws from four games in October 2004 saw Redknapp win the Manager of the Month award. He seemed a happy man. Or so we thought?
Mandaric was keen to hire Velimir Zajec as Director of Football and this was something that led to a major disagreement between the chairman and his manager. The off-field issues started to effect on-field performances. Portsmouth lost meekly to Aston Villa, Southampton and Manchester City in quick succession and after another row with Mandaric over the desire to move his assistant manager Smith on, Redknapp elected to walk away in November 2004.
Just over two weeks later, he turned up down the road at south coast rivals Southampton, replacing Steve Wigley as the club’s new manager. In the eyes of the Pompey supporters, Harry had just committed the ultimate betrayal. T-shirts were printed, calling him “Judas” and “Scummer” and it took a while for Redknapp to realise how angry the supporters felt towards him because of the fierce rivalry between the two clubs.
He admitted on the eve of his first return to Fratton Park after his departure in April 2005: “I’m not looking forward to it. It will be a difficult day. I will be glad to get it out of the way to be honest.”
He was right. Portsmouth supporters goaded him all afternoon and his new side were well-beaten 4-1. Defeat on the final day at home to Manchester United confirmed the Saints’ relegation to the Championship after a 27-year stay in England’s top-flight. It was his first Premier League relegation too.
He stayed on at Southampton that summer but was unhappy with chairman Rupert Lowe’s decision to add former coach of England’s 2003 Rugby World Cup success, Sir Clive Woodward as technical director. With the club failing to sustain any consistency in the Championship to become promotion contenders, he walked out on Southampton in early December 2005.
To complete the south coast soap opera saga, he returned to Portsmouth after they had sacked his initial replacement, Alain Perrin. The club were in relegation danger and in early March 2006, looked almost certainties for the drop. Then, two cracking goals from Pedro Mendes helped Pompey to a vital 2-1 home win over Manchester City. Further wins followed over West Ham United, Fulham, Middlesbrough and Sunderland and on the final Saturday of the season, a 2-1 success away at Wigan saw them escape relegation at the expense of Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion. For now, Redknapp was a hero again with Portsmouth supporters. It had been a crazy few years.
Spurs come calling
Portsmouth finished ninth and eighth in the next two Premier League campaigns and with more money to spend following a takeover by Alexandre Gaydamak, they became a formidable side capable of challenging for the European positions.
In 2008, Redknapp led the side to victory in the FA Cup. After knocking out favourites Manchester United with a stunning quarter-final victory, Portsmouth saw off West Bromwich Albion in the semi-finals and Cardiff City in the final with Kanu scoring the winning goal. It was the club’s first FA Cup final in 69 years and to this day, Redknapp remains the last English manager to win a major English trophy.
During the 2007-2008 campaign, Newcastle United had made an approach to Redknapp but Harry turned down this opportunity to stay at Portsmouth. He couldn’t do that though when Tottenham Hotspur came calling in October 2008. Spurs were in dire straits, bottom of the Premier League having collected just two points from their first eight league fixtures. Daniel Levy had dismissed Juande Ramos and approached Portsmouth for Redknapp’s services. A £5 million compensation fee was agreed and Redknapp was on his way to White Hart Lane, returning to the club where he had started his playing career.
There was an immediate turnaround in results. Tottenham beat Bolton 2-0 in his first game as manager and days later, they produced a remarkable turnaround from 4-2 down in the closing stages to draw the North London Derby with Arsenal 4-4 at The Emirates. Five players were added in the January transfer window, including swift returns to Tottenham for Pascal Chimbonda, Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane. They eventually finished well clear of danger, achieving 51 points for an eighth place finish and the club reached the League Cup final, losing on penalties to Manchester United.
In 2009-2010, he led Tottenham to the UEFA Champions League for the first time, finished in a brilliant fourth place in the table. The qualification was secured by a late Peter Crouch header to defeat major rivals Manchester City 1-0 at The City of Manchester Stadium. Redknapp received a soaking afterwards whilst conducting his post-match television duties from some of his players, especially David Bentley, who barely played for the club again afterwards. His efforts saw him become only the second manager to win the Premier League Manager of the Year award despite not winning the title.
Tottenham beat Swiss club BSC Young Boys in the play-off round to reach the Champions League group stages and they went on to beat both Milan clubs on their way to the quarter-finals where they eventually bowed out to Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid side 5-0 on aggregate. The 2010-2011 season was slightly less successful domestically with a 5th place finish meaning UEFA Europa League football for the following campaign. However, this was the campaign where Gareth Bale started to make his major impact and won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year whilst the supporters enjoyed a first victory at Arsenal in 17 years.
The 2011-2012 campaign started slowly with two big defeats to the Manchester clubs but Tottenham quickly recovered to become the closest challengers from outside the city. They were third for much of the campaign but faded dramatically after a 5-2 North London Derby defeat to Arsenal. Issues were starting to play their part away from the game.
In January 2010, he had been charged with two counts of tax evasion along with his former chairman at Portsmouth, Milan Mandaric. The charge related to a £189,000 payment made by Mandaric to Redknapp via a bank account in Monaco. The trial began in January 2012 and he was eventually acquitted of both charges two weeks later. Later that day, England’s manager Fabio Capello resigned after seeing his skipper John Terry stripped of the national team captaincy for the second time following allegations of racial abuse during a fixture between Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea. Redknapp was the overwhelming favourite and admitted it was tempting to take the position if it was offered to him. However, he was overlooked and the FA chose the West Bromwich Albion manager Roy Hodgson as Capello’s successor.
Tottenham ensured a fourth place finish for the second time in three years on the final day of the season but Chelsea’s victory in the UEFA Champions League final a week later against Bayern Munich meant they took an automatic spot and relegated Spurs into the Europa League. In June 2012, he was dismissed by Tottenham after talks broke down over a new contract.
A tough time at QPR
Harry remained out of the game until November 2012 when he agreed to take over struggling Queens Park Rangers, who were winless when they appointed him to replace Mark Hughes. The task looked immense and he could only guide the team to four league victories during his time with a heavily imbalanced squad and a team that looked short on confidence. In April 2013, a terrible game at Reading saw the match finish goalless and both clubs relegated to the Championship.
Redknapp stayed on and guided QPR back to the top-flight at the first attempt, as Bobby Zamora struck a dramatic late goal in the Championship play-off final against Derby County. However, the Hoops struggled on their return back to the Premier League in 2014-2015. Despite the goals of Charlie Austin and a decent home record, their failure to claim a single point on their travels, plus failure to capture the players Redknapp desired in the January transfer window led to his resignation in February 2015. The reason for his departure was an imminent knee operation and he felt he couldn’t focus 100% on the job.
This turned out to be Redknapp’s last appointment in the Premier League but he has managed again since. He got his taste of international management with Asian country Jordan. He coached two matches in March 2016 – an 8-0 win over Bangladesh and a 5-1 defeat to Australia. A brief tenure followed at Birmingham City where he managed to guide them to Championship safety in 2016-2017 after two wins from their last three games of the season. However, a run of five straight defeats early on in 2017-2018 led to his sacking and admittance from Redknapp that this was likely to be his last position in football management.
His public persona has continued though when in October 2018, it was confirmed he was heading into the Australian jungle to take on the challenge of the ITV reality show ‘I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!’ He was much-loved by his fellow campmates and also, the voting public. He beat former star of The Inbetweeners Emily Atack in the final to be crowned The King of the Jungle.
He has since managed a team of England legends including Merson, David Seaman and Robbie Fowler to victory against a team of German legends in ‘Harry’s Heroes…The Full English.’ Later this summer, he will be going on a nationwide tour, sharing some of his amazing experiences in the world of football.
He might be light on honours but with bundles of experience and knowledge of The Beautiful Game, Harry Redknapp has had an amazing career and has to be considered easily as one of the best English managers in Premier League history.