Roy Hodgson tributes: The canny coach and ‘lovely man’ you would do anything for

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 (PA)
(PA)

Roy Hodgson described calling time on his far-reaching and long-running career back in south London as something of a fairytale.

It is not just Croydon, the corner of the capital in which he fell in love with football, that has been touched by Hodgson's remarkable career, however.

The 73-year-old, who will take charge of his final Premier League game when Crystal Palace face Liverpool on Sunday, was last month presented with the Outstanding Contribution award at the London Football Awards and spoke of how, over the last 12 years with Fulham, England and Crystal Palace, London has given him some of his best memories.

His time with England will never be remembered as the most successful in the country's history, but Hodgson's pride should, and will, never fade at reaching the pinnacle for an English manager. He took Fulham from the brink of relegation to a European final and has worked wonders at Selhurst Park.

Hodgson has wanted little fanfare around his announcement, but those who have worked closely with him are lining up to pay their respects for his work in his city.

"I feel very fortunate that I've got to work with him," Danny Murphy, who made more than 100 appearances under Hodgson at Fulham, tells Standard Sport. "He's a wonderful coach, a very wise, football intelligent man. More importantly, that he's a lovely man with great integrity and wisdom.

"When he came to Fulham we were sinking. In fact we were under, we had one hand left out of the water and somebody needed to grab it quick, and he did.

Danny Murphy and Roy Hodgson ahead of Fulham’s Europa League final against Atletico MadridAFP via Getty Images
Danny Murphy and Roy Hodgson ahead of Fulham’s Europa League final against Atletico MadridAFP via Getty Images

"I think people who know football think so highly of him because of his longevity and because of the variation in his work and the kind of unique personality he is."

Hodgson's integrity and the care he shows to players and staff at every level of the clubs and sides he has left a lasting mark for many.

"I would say he's one of the best, if not the best, man managers I've come across," says Rickie Lambert, who made his England debut under Hodgson and scored with his first touch against Scotland. "He knows how to speak to everyone.

"Even when I was at Liverpool, when I wasn't playing, I wasn't doing that well, he was still picking me. I said I would understand if he didn't pick me because I'm not playing and I've probably made a bad choice by going to Liverpool with regards my England career.

Roy Hodgson and Rickie Lambert in conversation at the 2014 World CupThe FA via Getty Images
Roy Hodgson and Rickie Lambert in conversation at the 2014 World CupThe FA via Getty Images

"He just said: 'Listen, don't worry about it, I know what you bring to this squad. It was massive. I would run through a brick wall for him."

Another player he gave an England debut to was Andros Townsend, who he has been working with at Crystal Palace over the past four years.

"I owe the last eight years of my career to him," Townsend said this week.

"He gave me my chance as a 22-year-old boy of playing for England, gave me my first 11 caps and has given me 100-odd Premier League games. He has made me into a better player and a better man. I owe a lot to Roy Hodgson.

"I’m very grateful for him. He has been incredible."

Andros Townsend made his England debut under Roy Hodgson, and played 139 times for his Crystal Palace sideThe FA via Getty Images
Andros Townsend made his England debut under Roy Hodgson, and played 139 times for his Crystal Palace sideThe FA via Getty Images

Man management and personality can get people a long way. But you do not manage for 45 years on charisma alone.

“His best attribute was on the coaching pitch, full stop,” says Murphy. “Where Roy gained most respect from the Fulham lads - we were a very senior team - was his coaching.

“The initial coaching felt a little bit tedious and boring. A lot of shape and a lot of movements, a lot of drills that put us in good shape.

“But what happened was, the results started changing and the momentum started changing. The enjoyment came more because we were getting results.

“Roy's best attribute was the ability to organise a team to be better than you should be, to make the team greater than the sum of its parts.”

Roy Hodgson is at his best on the training pitch, says Danny MurphyBongarts/Getty Images
Roy Hodgson is at his best on the training pitch, says Danny MurphyBongarts/Getty Images

Hodgson has not quite called time on being in football in some form just yet - even at 73 he can't do that. But in stepping back from Premier League management English football loses one of its great ambassadors, not that he will enjoy any of the praise.

"He won't like it," adds Murphy. "I've not called him yet - I know what he is like, he doesn't like a fuss.

"It was always about others. He would always deflect praise to his coaching staff, the medical team and the players. That's a genuine humility that he's got as well. So you know what, it wouldn't surprise me if he never gets to read these kind words."

Hodgson might not want to read them, but he will struggle to avoid them after such a distinguished career.

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