Terry Venables' biggest regret was turning down Strictly Come Dancing

How Terry Venables’ biggest regret was… turning down Strictly Come Dancing! El Tel revealed he had to say no to chance to take part in hit BBC show due to hip problem in interview seven years before his death

Terry Venables was the driving force behind the rebirth of England’s football team in the 1990s – but his greatest regret after hanging up his boots was not appearing on Strictly, MailOnline can reveal today.

The celebrated footballer and coach, who died on Saturday aged 80 after a long illness, was taught to dance by his mother Myrtle in their tiny living room in Dagenham where he grew up.

But problems with his hips prevented him doing Strictly when he was in his early 70s – meaning he watched it religiously on TV instead.

Before he fell ill, Mr Venables spoke to interviewer Rob McGibbon about his life and even his death for The Definite Article in the Daily Mail in 2016.

When asked about the biggest regret you wish you could amend, the former Spurs, QPR and Barcelona coach, who was known for his love of singing, said: ‘Not doing Strictly Come Dancing. I was asked a few years ago, but I wasn’t able to accept due to a hip problem. I would have loved it because I’ve always had an interest in dancing. Mum used to teach me in our tiny living room when I was a kid, much to the amusement of my friends’.

Terry told Mr McGibbon that his final wish was to be cremated ‘straight away’ with ‘no funeral’ and to throw ‘a big memorial service and party later’. ‘I really don’t like funerals. I find it torture having to wait a week after a loved one has died, so I don’t want to put my loved ones through this’, he said. 

Terry Venables, pictured at his hotel in Spain in 2018, has died aged 80. He revealed that he had always wanted to do Strictly but couldn’t because of his hips

Mr Venables said he and his wife Yvette watched the show (pictured over the weekend) and he would watch it and ‘always say “I could do that”

Terry released several singles in his life but always had a passion for dancing, learning from his mother 

When Venables took the England job in the mid-1990s, he helped to change the reputation of the game for ever

Before he died also spoke poignantly about leading his country to the semi-finals of Euro 96, calling it the moment of his life he would ‘cherish’, and his grief that he never led the team at France 98.

Survived by Yvette, his wife of 32 years, his family have said they were ‘totally devastated by the loss of a wonderful husband and father’ following his death.

He said the most precious thing he owned was his wedding ring. He said: ‘It was mum Myrtle’s wedding ring. She died a year before Yvette and I married in 1991. Yvette had it made larger, so it would fit me. The ring connects me with the two most important women in my life’.

He also said he hoped people would remember him as ‘kind, loyal and funny’ and that his mantra in life was: ‘Never feel you cannot achieve anything simply because you are not academically gifted. Everyone is good at something. You just need to discover what that “something” is’.

And when he spoke of his happiest moment he said: ‘Euro 96 was a special time in my life. I had such a great bond with that team and we did so well and got so close to the final. I am proud of what we achieved and even now people still stop me and say what a great feeling everybody had in the country during the tournament’. 

He added that he was upset he had not taken my Euro 96 team to the World Cup in France in 1998′, adding: ‘They were playing so well together and I think we could have won it’.

Poignantly he said the saddest time that shook his world was the death of his father Fred in 1988.

He said: ‘I was away in Sunderland and I rushed back to be by his side, but he died before I got to him. I still think of him every day’.

Terry Venables, who managed England between 1994 and 1996, has passed away aged 80

Terry and his heartbroken wife Yvette at La Escondida hotel in Alicante. He is survived by his wife and two daughters

Venables as Leeds manager with club chairman Peter Risdale meeting Queen Elizabeth II

The world of football is mourning his death today.

His family said in a statement yesterday: ‘We would ask that privacy be given at this incredibly sad time to allow us to mourn the loss of this lovely man who we were so lucky to have had in our lives.’

Venables, born and raised in a council estate, broke through as a player into the top flight of English football before arthritis cut his career short, forcing him to stop playing at 31.

But it was then he moved into management, winning trophies at a succession of clubs before breaking new ground by moving to the Spanish super club Barcelona in 1984.

Though lacking a formal education, he proved his natural intelligence by learning Catalan and addressing the crowd at his first game – before leading the club to their first league title in 11 years. The press dubbed him El Tel, a name which stuck with him until his death.

But to many in Scotland he will be the man who helped inflict the cruel 2-0 defeat upon Craig Brown’s Scotland side during Euro 96.

Before the campaign, the England team flew to Hong Kong for a warm-up which coincided with Paul Gascoigne’s 29th birthday.

Players ended up in a nightclub being strapped into a dentist’s chair to have vodka poured down their throats by the pint.

Other managers might have sacked half the squad, but Venables just laughed it off.

Former Rangers star Gascoigne said: ‘He was the best I worked with. Everybody loved him. In training he would give me the ball and say, “Take these five guys on”. I’d do it. That was me getting fit.’

England went on to beat the Netherlands 4-1 in a match Venables himself described as his ‘most thrilling experience in football’ – only lose to Germany on penalties in the semi-final at Wembley.

A picture of the former England player was shown at the end of a match between Tottenham and Aston Villa on Sunday

 Terry Venables comforts Gareth Southgate, whose penalty miss had just dumped England out of the European Championships in 1996

Born in January 1943, the only child of lorry driver Fred Venables and his wife Myrtle, who worked in a café, he grew up on one of Essex’s burgeoning council estates.

After he was scouted by West Ham for their youth team, and having been set a secondary school essay titled When I Grow Up, Venables had already decided his future and submitted one sentence: ‘I am going to be a footballer’.

Confident of achieving sporting stardom, at the age of 17 he registered his name with Companies House, as Terry Venables Ltd. But he was not single-minded about the game, entering the world of business and even fancying himself as a songwriter.

And in 1991 Venables rocked the football establishment by joining forces with Amstrad chief Alan Sugar to buy the north London Club Tottenham Hotspur.

Venables raised £3million to cover his stake as chief executive. But the partnership with Sugar turned out to be a disastrous one, ending in acrimony.

When his financial adviser Eddie Ashby was jailed for breaching bankruptcy laws in 1997, the judge branded Venables’ evidence as ‘at best fanciful’ and at worst intended to ‘deliberately and dishonestly mislead the jury’.

It led to front page headlines ‘Venables lied in court’ and ‘Judge condemns dishonest Venables’.

Venables went on to coach Australia, before returning to England as assistant manager. But his career ended in failure when they failed to qualify for Euro2008.

In semi-retirement he ran a hotel in Spain with second wife Yvette, and remained close to his two daughters from his first marriage.

Gareth Southgate, whose saved penalty sealed the semi-final defeat in Euro 96, said he was an ‘outstanding coach and manager’. He said: ‘Tactically excellent, he had a wonderful manner, capable of handling everyone from the youngest player to the biggest star.’

Gary Lineker, whom he signed for Barcelona in 1986 and Tottenham in 1989, said: ‘[I am] devastated to hear that Terry Venables has died. The best, most innovative coach I had the privilege and pleasure of playing for.’

Mihir Bose, Venables’ biographer, said: ‘His real crime was to be so ambitious, and not to “know his place”. Terry Venables could have been the greatest England manager of the modern era.

‘But he wanted more.’

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