Harry Redknapp, After Dinner Speaker, Former West Ham Manager, Director of Football at Portsmouth, Harry Redknapp is West Ham through-and-through, having been born just down the road in Poplar and also playing for and managing them. When he was in charge of the club the locals simply referred to him as 'H'. After coming through the youth ranks at Upton Park, he signed professional terms as a 17-year-old in 1964 and went on to make 149 top flight appearances.

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Background

Harry Redknapp is West Ham through-and-through, having been born just down the road in Poplar and also playing for and managing them. When he was in charge of the club the locals simply referred to him as 'H'.

After coming through the youth ranks at Upton Park, he signed professional terms as a 17-year-old in 1964 and went on to make 149 top flight appearances.

The winger moved on in 1972, bound for Third Division football with AFC Bournemouth. Redknapp spent four years at Dean Court, playing 101 games, before finishing his professional career back in London with a short spell at Brentford.

After a few years out of the game, Redknapp made a return to Bournemouth in September 1982 to become the club's assistant manager, working alongside Don Megson.

Megson was sacked in 1984 with the Cherries in trouble near the foot of the Third Division, and Redknapp was handed the chance to cut his managerial teeth.

Initially, Redknapp's brief was to avoid the drop into the bottom rung of the Football League. This he achieved by a comfortable margin, but the FA Cup would provide a superb distraction to their League troubles.

Bournemouth were drawn at home to holders Manchester United in the Third Round of the competition, and they pulled off perhaps their greatest ever result in knocking out the mighty Red Devils.

After a couple of seasons of consolidation in mid-table, everything clicked in the 1986/87 season. Bournemouth stormed to the Third Division title in style, clocking up a record 97 points as they held off the challenge of Middlesbrough.

Redknapp failed to mount a bid for promotion into the top flight, with two seasons spent as an average Second Division side, and dropped back down a division in 1990.

He announced his retirement at the end of the 1991/92 campaign. He had become disillusioned with the lack of funds and limited resources at his disposal.

Redknapp didn't put his feet up for long as Billy Bonds persuaded him to work as his assistant manager at West Ham - 'H' had come home.
It would be two years before he would get the chance to manage his beloved Hammers in August 1994, when Bonds left after a major disagreement with the board.

After three seasons of stabilising the side, enjoying mid-table finishes, the fruits of Harry's labour could be seen.

As at Dean Court, Redknapp was determined to get the youth system right and yet again he pulled it off with players of the calibre of Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick and Frank Lampard coming through the ranks.

The Hammers finished eighth in 1998 and then enjoyed one of the best seasons in their history when finishing in fifth place and qualifying for the InterToto Cup.

The 1999/2000 season was not as successful but that could well have been put down to their involvement in Europe, winning the InterToto Cup and thus qualifying for the UEFA Cup. This meant their season began a month early, which led to tiredness and only one point from the final 12 available.

That same season West Ham lost arguably their best defender when Ferdinand was signed by Leeds United for a record fee of 18million. Although much of the cash would go back to Harry for squad strengthening, his choices in the market again let him down.

In the end they decided to part company with Redknapp, and his assistant Frank Lampard senior, days before the end of the 2000/01 season.
Redknapp had his successes in his seven-year stay at Upton Park, such as the gamble on the disgraced Paolo di Canio.

It was suggested that Harry might retire for a second time, but he soon re-emerged as Director of Football at Portsmouth. He struggled to get to grips with the role, although did show his loyalty by turning down the chance to take over at Leicester City in October 2001.

Rumours that Redknapp would become Pompey's manager were finally proved correct on March 25 when he replaced Graham Rix.

Backed by the millions of chairman Milan Mandaric, Redknapp moulded a squad of youth and experience for an assault on the First Division - veterans Paul Merson and Steve Stone were joined by former Hammers Svetoslav Todorov and Hayden Foxe. Jim Smith was also drafted in as his assistant.

Pompey were excellent from the very beginning, and earned promotion into the Premiership for the first ever time, ironically replacing West Ham, by lifting the First Division title ahead of Leicester. Redknapp was also named the League Managers' Association's Manager of the Year.

Pompey topped the table for a short spell at the start of the season, following a 4-0 thrashing of Bolton Wanderers.

But they then won only one game in the next two-and-a-half months before dishing out another humbling, 6-1, to Leeds United.
Pompey finished the season with a real flourish, losing one in ten with six victories, as Yakubu bagged 11 goals

Portsmouth had a decent start to 2004/05, but before long Mandaric was again looking to reorganise the structure. And when Panathinaikos revealed their director of football, Velimir Zajec, had left the club to take up the same post at Fratton Park trouble was around the corner.

After talks with Mandaric, it was agreed that Redknapp would stay and Zajec would have the title of 'executive director'. But in truth it was an argument of semantics rather than the remit of the new man.

Redknapp picked up the Manager of the Month award for October, which included a 2-0 home win over Manchester United, but within days of receiving the award before the home game against Manchester City his tenure would be over.

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