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Sep 18, 2009

Glenn Hoddle joins forces with FA for World Cup bid

Glenn Hoddle will be a member of the England 2018 World Cup bid team's 'ambassador squad' and his inclusion will likely produce the most headlines given the manner of his departure as England manager.

Hoddle became the only England manager in the history of the FA to be sacked for non-football issues when he made some controversial comments about disabled people in 1999.

But under the current FA regime, Hoddle has been brought back into the fold in a role that the former Swindon, Chelsea and Tottenham boss has been delighted to accept.

"It would be an honour to help England bring the World Cup back to these shores," Hoddle told ESPN Soccernet. "I would do anything I can."

Hoddle won more than 50 caps for his country, but was always the center of a debate about his 'foreign' midfield skills and arguably should have won double that amount of international recognition.

As England coach, he reached the heights with a famous draw against Italy in Rome to take the nation to the 1998 World Cup finals in France. There England looked capable of going on to win the competition as Hoddle nurtured the skills of David Beckham and Michael Owen, despite controversially leaving them both out at the start of the tournament.

Hoddle and his players (Beckham aside) were welcomed home as heroes after their ten-man performance against Argentina when, after Beckham's dismissal for kicking out at Diego Simeone, they lost on penalties in St Etienne.

Hoddle is now among an elite group of 30 players past and present, both foreign and English, who have been selected by the FA's 2018 bid team to be global ambassadors for the cause.

David Beckham and Wayne Rooney have already been announced as part of that squad, and they were hardly big surprises, but ESPN Soccernet revealed on Thursday that Argentinean World Cup icons Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa had also got the call-up.

Coincidentally, Hoddle played in the same Spurs team as Ardiles and the 1978 World Cup winner has always considered Hoddle one of the most gifted players he has ever played alongside, and that includes Diego Maradona.

Hoddle is currently the inspiration behind a new academy in Spain, taking on discarded youngsters to recycle them back into the game. Hoddle has rejected 15 offers to return to management in the past two years while he has pursued his dream to set up the academy.

• Harry Harris has twice won the British Sports Journalist of the Year award. His book Down Memory Lane is now available.
•  Harry writes in association with Football40
and Football Nights.

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