Iconic Wimbledon manager and Tottenham defender Joe Kinnear dies aged 77 after long battle with dementia

7 April 2024, 19:37 | Updated: 7 April 2024, 19:41

Joe Kinnear
Former Wimbledon manager and Tottenham defender Joe Kinnear has died at the age of 77, his family have announced. Picture: Alamy

By Chay Quinn

Former Wimbledon manager and Tottenham defender Joe Kinnear has died at the age of 77, his family have announced.

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A statement said: "We are sad to announce that Joe passed away peacefully this afternoon surrounded by his family."

Kinnear's playing career saw the defender win the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup with Tottenham.

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Kinnear, who won 26 caps with the Republic of Ireland during his career, joined Tottenham as a teenager in 1963 before making his debut in 1966.

He spent the next decade at White Hart Lane, lifting the FA Cup in 1967, the UEFA Cup in 1972 and the League Cup in both 1971 and 1973, making more than 250 appearances for the club before spending the final season of his playing career at Brighton.

File photo dated 27-09-2008 of Newcastle manager Joe Kinnear. Former Tottenham defender and Wimbledon manager Joe Kinnear has died at the age of 77, has family have announced in a statement. Issue date: Sunday April 7, 2024.
After hanging up his boots, Dublin-born Kinnear went on to manage Luton, Nottingham Forest and Newcastle among others. Picture: Alamy

After hanging up his boots, Dublin-born Kinnear went on to manage Luton, Nottingham Forest and Newcastle among others.

Kinnear began his coaching career in Asia, working in the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia, before spells with India and Nepal.

He returned to England to become Dave Mackay's assistant at Doncaster and would be named Wimbledon boss in 1992.

Kinnear led the Dons to a sixth-placed finish in the top flight in the 1993-94 season, and guided them to the semi-finals of both the FA Cup and League Cup in 1997.

Former Newcastle United midfielder Joey Barton paid tribute to his departed former boss.

Barton wrote on X, formerly Twitter: "RIP Joe Kinnear. An absolute cracker Joe. Only worked with him a short while at Newcastle before he had a stroke.

"Great fella, very knowledgeable about the game, loved the team environment. Loved all the banter. Football has lost another good one.

"Another whose family have struggled to get support from the Professional Footballers' Association to care for him in times of bad health.

"Despite the mounting evidence about heading the football. No doubt he’ll get a fantastic send off. His press conference at Newcastle will always be a fond memory. He pulled no punches that day.

"Good luck in Valhalla Joe."

Welsh pundit and former player John Hartson also paid tribute to his former boss.

Hartson said: "Sad news hearing that my ex-boss Joe Kinnear has passed away.

"My thoughts are with Joe’s wife Bonnie and the Kinnear family.

"RIP Gaffer".

As a dependable full-back, he served as a key member of a star-studded Tottenham side before embarking upon a managerial career which brought him huge acclaim with Wimbledon's 'Crazy Gang', but ended in a hail of expletives, controversy and at times ridicule at Newcastle.

No slave to political correctness, Kinnear told it how he saw it and was admired and respected by those closest to him on a journey which began in Ireland and for the most part revolved around London, but notably also took him to Nepal.

Kinnear was born Joseph Reddy, the youngest of three children to Guinness Brewery stoker Joe and Margaret Reddy, in Dublin on December 27, 1946, he and older sisters Shirley and Carmen spent their early years in the Kimmage and Crumlin areas of the city.

The marriage was not a happy one and his mother, who was just 20 when he arrived, eventually walked out and went to look for work in England, with her children - custody had been awarded to her husband - divided between their grandparents.

Having met and set up home with Gerry Kinnear in Watford, she returned for her children when her son was six and, along with the couple's daughters Louise and Amelia, the Reddy children took on their stepfather's surname.

Kinnear excelled at sports at both Kingswood Primary and Leggatt's Way Secondary Modern schools, where his ability helped him be accepted swiftly.

A career as a professional was his dream from an early age and he looked to be on course when he played for and captained Watford Boys and then Hertfordshire Boys before being granted a trial by Watford at the age of 15.

To his intense disappointment, the Hornets did not offer him a contract and, having left school with no qualifications, he took a job as an apprentice printer and played part-time for non-league St Albans City, where he was spotted by Spurs' chief scout Dick Walker.

After a successful trial, he signed amateur terms with the club's youth team, having been asked to switch from his accustomed right-half role to right full-back, and won his first professional contract at the age of 18.

Now rubbing shoulders with the likes of Danny Blanchflower, Dave Mackay and Jimmy Greaves, he made his senior debut under double-winning manager Bill Nicholson in a 4-1 home defeat by West Ham on April 8, 1966 and, a little more than a year later, was named man of the match in an FA Cup final victory over Chelsea.

In all, he made 258 appearances for the club, also winning the League Cup twice and UEFA Cup as well as 26 caps for the Republic of Ireland, although all trace of his accent had long since disappeared.

In the meantime, he had met wife Bonnie, with whom he had two children, Elliot, who died of cancer at the age of 40, and Russelle.

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