My Team: Kenneth Branagh on Tottenham Hotspur
The Guardian, 23 May 2000
I was brought up in Belfast and when I was old enough to start working out what football was - which was quite young I suppose, about six, seven, eight - you basically picked three teams, a Northern Irish team, a Scottish team and an English team. It was just at the end of the Danny Blanchflower era, and with Blanchflower being from my neck of the woods, it had to be Tottenham for me - along with Linfield and Rangers as well. I'd define myself as an armchair fan, though. I've rarely been but I've always been a keen Spurs watcher.
For me the classic Spurs teams had the likes of Chivers and Gilzean and Martin Peters. And I always remember Ralph Coates with his Bobby Charlton hair. Pat Jennings was my idea of the complete sportsman just because he was such a gentleman and those non-flashy, one-handed catches were just incredible. Again, being from my neck of the woods, we were very, very proud of him. They were a great cup team back then, of course. As for the team in recent years, I'm amazed by Les Ferdinand's relative lack of form with us, cos I used to go and watch him a lot at QPR - a friend of mine lived near the ground and that's where I used to watch a lot of teams play live - and he played his best football there. I hope we don't get rid of him as under the right circumstances he could come again. He's got such a strong physical presence.
All the same, we definitively need a real killer goalscorer. We need a nicker of goals, like Lineker used to do. Actually we've missed Teddy Sheringham.
Spurs fans won't forgive me, but I'm afraid I don't find myself especially anti-Arsenal. I mean I think Arsenal have been entertaining. Christ, imagine if Spurs had Bergkamp or somebody like that.
I would be very, very excited to meet some of the people I admire, that's where I would feel I would get a bit tongue tied. I would be beside myself to meet Pat Jennings.
I met George Best once and it was one of the greatest events of my life. I was in a foyer in a hotel in Australia, I'd just done four months in a TV series. I was only 22 and I hadn't done much work but I had been in a couple of plays in Northern Ireland. I'm due to go home two days later having finished this job and I was sitting with a mate in the foyer having a drink when two blokes walked past.
I thought, 'Fuck, that's George Best.' He went with another bloke up to the reception desk and the guy that's with him looks around, looks at me and then walks over to me. He says, 'You're not the fellow from the Billy plays?'
I said, 'Yes I am actually.' He said, 'Oh George liked that...'
So I went to George, 'George pleased to meet you.'
He went, 'What happened to your accent then?'
I said, 'Well I've been away a long time.' But after that, when I talked to him, I just put the Irish accent on.