Sexton, the coach for all seasons: Former Chelsea boss, who led club to Cup Winners' Cup, dies aged 82
22:13 GMT, 25 November 2012
If ever a man could embody the new Chelsea, it was Dave Sexton, who passed away on Sunday aged 82.
Good timing. He left us on the day his beloved Chelsea were locked in combat with Manchester City. Perhaps he would have given that touch of irony, one of his rather straight-laced smiles.
Sexton, whose father, Archie, was a very useful light-middleweight boxer, went to Stamford Bridge as coach to Tommy Docherty in the revolution that swept through Stamford Bridge in the mid-1960s.
Legend: Dave Sexton has died at the age of 82
Perfect pro for club and country
As a player, Dave Sexton notched up more than 180 appearances in the 1950s in spells at Luton, West Ham, Leyton Orient, Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace.
He made his name as a manager at Chelsea, leading them to FA Cup glory in 1970 as well as the European Cup-winners' Cup in 1971.
Sexton also managed QPR, Manchester United and Coventry before winning Under 21 European Championships with England in 1982 and 1984.
He was serious, focused and so in
love with football – the straight man to a boss who always tried to see
the light side of life.
The Doc picked the team, Sexton
coached them. And what talent he had at his disposal – Terry Venables,
John Hollins, Peter Osgood, Ron Harris, Peter Bonetti, George Graham.
All worshipped the ground Sexton
walked on, if not always embracing his serious outlook on life and
football. He could never understand why someone as gifted as Ossie would
want to enjoy himself in pubs and bars.
They would often clash – on one
occasion, they squared up to one another in mid-flight to a European tie
when neither would back down after a bitter row.
Respect: Chelsea players observe a minute's applause for former manager Dave Sexton
Remembered: Chelsea pay their respects to former manager Sexton who has passed away
Docherty and Sexton laid the
foundations of what Chelsea would become, inventing a club in the image
of the King's Road. Except Sexton abhorred it.
He once ran 200 yards when I went to
watch training to tell me I was not welcome. My offence Being close
enough to Ossie to know the workings of the team and the ways of Dave
Football was his life. It must not
be forgotten that he managed Manchester United and lost his job only
because he was not charismatic enough. He was all about getting it
Standing tall: Sexton (right) with Chelsea at the 1970 FA Cup final replay
Red rule: Sexton (far right) spent four years at Old Trafford
His knowledge of the game and his
tactical brilliance impressed Venables, Graham and Hollins, all future
managers. I was in Germany as the England Under 21s won the 1982
Sexton was manager, Venables coach.
At the victory dinner, Sexton spoke of how Venables was the greatest
thing to happen to English football since Sir Alf Ramsey.
Modest as always, he took no credit for his teachings, just grateful someone he had faith in would carry the torch.
Success: Sexton (right, standing) led Chelsea to the FA Cup in 1970
International man: Sexton was also involved with the England set up
When Venables became England manager,
he put Sexton on his backroom staff. The FA said: 'But he is so old'
Venables replied: 'I don't want him to play, just be a part of the
In 1996, England reached the European
Championship semi-finals. Venables had laid down a game plan based on
Sexton's input. England have never been so close to glory since.
It was a sickening failure by the
FA not to acknowledge the role that Venables and Sexton, his right-hand
man, had played in giving England back their pride.
High praise: Chelsea fans praise Sexton (above) as he poses with chairman Charles Pratt (below)
Sexton knew the game. He loved
tactics. He worshipped players who shared his excitement for the
training ground. That clashed with players' love of a night out, secrets
shared with others. That tore at Sexton like a knife.
It was the one fault line in his
personality that stopped him being a true great. Sometimes I would ring
him at home and, when I identified myself, he would pretend he was the
painter or odd job man. He couldn't talk privately.
Dave Sexton got his delights by
preparing teams, coaching them, communicating, making good players
better. That was his life – the rest of us didn't really matter.