Tony Knapp: An appreciation


Club historian Duncan Holley remembers Tony Knapp, the former Southampton captain who has passed away at the age of 86.

In the summer of 1961, Saints manager Ted Bates was casting his net far and wide searching for a new centre-half and was delighted to be able to persuade Leicester’s Tony Knapp to drop down from the top tier into Division Two, even though it took a club record fee of £27,5000 to acquire him.

Tony – who has just sadly passed away, aged 86 – was a quality defender in his prime who, while at Filbert Street, had come to the attention of England selectors and before long he replaced Terry Paine as captain and led the team to the semi-finals of the FA Cup in 1963.

Three years later he was still leading out the players as Division One was reached for the first time in Saints history. In the summer of 1967, Jimmy Gabriel was signed from Everton so Tony, now approaching his 31st birthday, accepted a move to newly-promoted Coventry City and spent two seasons there helping them acclimatise to life in the top flight.

An intelligent footballer, it was no surprise when, after hanging up his boots, he turned his attentions to coaching, initially in England and then in Iceland where he had two stints as the manager of the national team.

Later he served no fewer than 11 Norwegian clubs, only retiring from the last one, Lillesand, in 2012, aged 76. It was no surprise by then he had fallen for the way of life in Norway, and he spent the remainder of his days living in Stavanger.

13th October 1936 - 22nd March 2023