Ex Spurs & Chelsea star Micky Hazard predicts the Capital One Cup Final clash between his former clubs & tells us about his days as a Black Cab driver
Micky Hazard came through the ranks and made his name as an energetic, curly haired midfield maestro at Tottenham in the early 80’s. He played in a talented midfield alongside the likes of Spurs legends Ossie Ardiles and Glen Hoddle. In his time there he won the 1982 FA Cup, the 1984 UEFA Cup and was called up to the England squad. In 1985 he moved as Chelsea’s club record signing where he had an enjoyable five years, before spells at both Portsmouth and Swindon and a final swansong back at Spurs.
After retiring in 1995 he went on to become a London Black Cab Driver having spent 3 years studying to pass “The Knowledge”. He has been a youth academy coach at both Tottenham and Crystal Palace. Micky has just turned 55 and is currently part of the management team of Hadley F.C. who play in the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division. He kindly agreed to join us for a Guest Blog with the majority of questions submitted via Twitter using #TheOriginalHazard and Micky’s handle @1MickyHazard.
You came through the ranks at Tottenham. How did you slip through the net of clubs in the North East?
Well, I didn’t really slip through the net. Local clubs had watched me from the age 11. But the Spurs manager at the time was from Sunderland. He’d seen my play and sent his scout up to watch me play for my school every week for 3 years. Tottenham did a better job of winning me away than any other club. At that time you couldn’t join a club a long distance from home until the age of 14. So when the time came I was invited down by Spurs. They convinced my dad that Tottenham was the best place for me. My dad made a sound decision and it was made for football reasons. Youngsters these days are on big money from early on. But you’ve just got to hope they’re advised and protected well. I always say make any decision based on football reasons and career success and financial reward will follow.
Was it hard getting used to life in London being so young?
It was. Fortunately I only came down for school holidays for a couple of years. That helped me adjust but it was still a shock leaving home to move somewhere 300 miles away from my family. I was very home sick and found it very difficult. Although Spurs were very good to me, we had an arrangement and for the first 2 years they sent me home every 10 days for 5 days and that allowed me to settle. They’d pay all my train fares and make sure I was taken care of. They were protecting their investment but it goes to show that my dad made a good decision.
But the homesickness was all worthwhile?
I was at Spurs 9 and a half years from the age of 16 before I left for Chelsea. It was wonderful. I was playing with great players, in a great team and to cap it all off we were successful. And I felt like I stood for what Spurs stood for. “To Dare is to Do” is how I played my football. It was a match made in heaven. We played to entertain and excite as much as victory. Sometimes it doesn’t come off but if you have a good go, as Bill Nicholson said, “Even defeat will have an echo of greatness.” It’s so important to play to the tradition of your club.
How did your move to Chelsea come about?
I had no inkling. I was on fire having been picked for England the year before and wining the Uefa cup. After scoring against Newcastle in a 5-0 win Peter Shreeves pulled me out of the players lounge to tell me a bid had been accepted. I was fuming that they’d accepted. So on the Monday I signed in anger. I think Spurs had cash flow issues and it was a Chelsea club record bid. I regret making the decision in anger. There’s a bit more player power these days to reject the move. In our day the club had a lot more power.
Was it hard to settle in?
I took a while. I was used to the quality of football I was playing at Spurs. I wanted to play more beautiful football but never quite managed it at Chelsea. However the great thing at Chelsea were the supporters. They idealised me and sung my name. I hold their fans in the highest regard. After about 8 months the team did start to play through me when I was on for a pass. But when I wasn’t it went direct. Chelsea’s style of today started to take shape with Glen Hoddle and Ruud Huillet but I like to think I tried to influence them before then.
What was your career highlight?
I have so many highlights but I have to say the week of the UEFA Cup Final is the pick. The whole week was fantastic. Of course we won the final it in front of our home fans at the lane where the atmosphere was extraordinary and I was then selected for the full England squad.
Who did you model the perm on or was it natural?
Haha. Cheeky. Glen and Kevin Keegan might have had perms but mine was natural.
Who was your closest mate in football?
Ossie Ardiles. He’s still a very good friend. I roomed with him and he was a massive influence on my career. He’s a top guy. He was always there to help in times of need. Very humble but with that ability to make anyone he meets feel special.
How did becoming Black Cab Driver after your playing days happen?
It’s a really strange story. I’d retired at Spurs despite a few offers. I’d played golf for 18 months worked on my handicap* down (*Note: he plays of 5) and a friend started the knowledge. He asled if I wanted to head out with him to help and to keep him company. We’d do 3-4 hours each morning and afternoon. It was a wonderful thing learning all about the beautiful city of London. It was amazing. I’d lived in London for all those years and never really taken it in.
After about 20 runs my mate decided to quit but I’d been enjoying it so much I carried on and completed it. It helped that I seemed to have a natural ability to learn and retain the routes. For instance one afternoon at the first time of trying I remembered all of the hundreds of roads that cross Oxford Street in the exact order.
What skills were you able to transfer from being a footballer to becoming a taxi cab driver?
It was fantastic educating myself about London but I found it a very tough job. Cabbies really earn their money. It’s so tough. It kills your body sitting in that position all day. Your mind is drained from concentrating on traffic for long periods. They go through it to earn their weekly wage. So I think the physical and mental strength came in handy.
Did you have fun as a cabbie?
I was my own boss. I’d do my own hours it was appealing as it fitted in with my life style. I’d set a daily target and try to get to it asap. I didn’t rank as I couldn’t copd with waiting around. I’d have a little bit of banter every now with other cabbies and passengers. If I’m honest it was tough. I would liken it to having a bad game and waiting to get hooked off by the manager.
What was the worst bit about being a London black cab driver?
What other than getting my black cab quotes from the likes of you guys?! Haha. It’s a hard slog. There’s pressure when you don’t have someone in the back of the cab as you know you’ll have to work longer. And then when you did have someone there was a pressure to find the quickest route and avoid the traffic. So constant pressure.
What’s your view on Black Cab drivers battle with #Uber?
I was never one to get involved with politics but I’m on the side of cabbies. I think it’s wrong that they should have to do a 3 year course and then other guys come along and benefit straight from the off. I haven’t seen the effects of these apps on the cab trade but I hope there’s work enough for everyone. The black cab trade here is the best and its revered around the world.
Did you ever have anyone famous in the back of you cab?
Ironically I had Henry Cooper and he remembered giving me a man of the match award once!
As a Spurs legend did passengers regularly recognise you in the cab?
It wasn’t long after I’d retired so I’d get recognised fairly often. But to start with I used to go in disguise at first as I thought I’d get a lot of stick from fans of other clubs. Players these days are more prepared for their careers ending? They certainly wouldn’t be knocking around in a black cab if they’re on a 100k/week plus but they’ll still have to find something to occupy their time.
When did you think about taking your coaching badges?
I did my badges after I retired, I enjoy coaching. I worked at Spurs for 10 years with the youth sides. And then to Palace. Sean Scannell, Zaha, Clyne, Moses I gave them all YTS contracts in the 3 years when I was there. In all I think 16 players came through. Now I manage a team just below the Rymans. A lovely little side I got involved with Hadley FC. It’s a big commitment but I absolutely love it. It’s such a passion that it can be a bit too consuming.
What do you make of Hazard 2.0?
I think he’s a very very good player. He fantastic for Chelsea because they’re so well drilled but they don’t play with as much flair as other sides. But he’s slightly different from the norm of a Chelsea player. He plays with instinct and has a feel for the beautiful game as I love to see it played. He’s brilliant but I’m happy to remain the only Hazard to have played for Spurs. It’s a nice feeling.
What’s your prediction for Chelsea v Paris Saint Germain?
It’s a very tough game but Chelsea’s style is well suited to winning the Champions League. They’re tight defensively and well organised but score plenty. It’s just whether they come up against a side that plays incredible football as I don’t seem them ripping teams apart at Champions League. They’re quality but it’s whether they meet a Real or Barca in peak form. Though they’re capable of beating them all with organisation and discipline. I’ll go 3-2 over the two legs to Chelsea.
And how do you think Tottenham will fare (no pun intended) against Fiorentina in the last 32 of the Europa League?
We’ve got to approach both legs, home and away with the same positivity and go for the win. We’re a very good side on our day. We’ve wiped the floor with two Champions League sides in Chelsea and Arsenal. I hope we put our best team out. Fiorentina are technically good as Italian sides are. But we are very good side. I fancy Spurs for the win 4-2.
Split loyalties but which one of your old clubs will win the Capital One Cup Final?
It’s going to be tough for both with it being sandwiched between their European fixtures. Team selection is going to be vital for Spurs. We want to win a trophy and we also want to progress in the Europa League for a chance of Champions League. Having shown they can beat Chelsea with their win at the lane Spurs might now have the mental edge. They’re playing well and were unlucky against Liverpool last week. I’ll go Spurs to nick it 3-2 in extra time.
And do you think Spurs will make the top 4?
United are in pole position at the minute but I certainly think there are 4 better sides then them in the league. Southampton have been terrific. We can do it but its going to go down to the wire.
Final question Micky. Thanks so much for your time. Do you think Harry Kane will start England’s next game?
He proves the point that if you play with and against better quality footballers you improve quicker and more. He’s improved from almost a reserve team player to a superstar in half a season. You learn from good players by trying to out think and manoeuvre them because you have to. But he has that determination and passion to succeed, that will to fight is there. I definitely think he’ll go on to play well for England.