Today, Fulham Football Club is delighted to welcome Fulham and England legend, Johnny Haynes, to Craven Cottage. Still recognised as one of British football's greatest players, Johnny holds the aggregate Club appearance record and is an integral figure in Fulham's history.
A one-club man, Johnny played 657 games for Fulham between 1952 and 1970, including two FA Cup Semi Final appearances. Capped for England 56 times (22 as captain), Johnny was instrumental in keeping Fulham in the top flight during the 60s.
A creator and a goal scorer, Johnny was a sublime passer of the ball with supreme control, vision and tactical awareness. During his career he notched a total of 157 goals from his position as part of an inside forward trio. Ladies & Gentlemen, please welcome "the Maestro"...
How long has it been since you came down to Craven Cottage?
I didn't come down at all last season so it would have been the season before, so it's a couple of years. I came down two or three times that season.
And although you live in Edinburgh, if you're asked who your team is, do you still say Fulham?
It's still Fulham!
Do you follow the Club's progress closely?
Of course, it's the first result I look for up here.
What was your reaction to hearing that Mohamed Al Fayed had bought the Club?
Hopefully it was going to be a good thing and it's turned out to be a great thing - its been fantastic for the Club.
How did you feel once Fulham finally made it back to the top flight?
I was delighted, but of course we didn't really have to wait until the end of the season because it was as good as over by Christmas. We were so far in front and we were obviously too good for the First Division and I knew we'd do well in the Premiership. We've started with a few draws but I think we've hit a run now and things will only go up.
Is the top flight where we belong?
Certainly now - with Mr Al Fayed behind the Club. Everything is being done right and everything is going well. Its great for the supporters and for everybody and hopefully Fulham will be in the Premier League for years to come.
What do you think of Jean Tigana as a manager?
I don't know Jean Tigana at all, apart from knowing him as a player, and he was a very fine player. I don't know too much about his managing but he's obviously very good and he's had a lot of experience, especially in France - and France is the country at the moment as far as football is concerned. It was a great signing to get him as Manager.
As one of the great passers in football, Tigana's passing style must be attractive to you?
The way Fulham are playing at the moment is as a passing team and he's obviously brought it out in the players. There's a lot of new players there, but there's still some players who were playing in the First Division and they're all doing a great job - long may it continue.
Do any of them stand out in particular?
I've only seen them on TV over the last couple of years, but as I said they're all doing a great job. Tigana's tactics are perfect. I don't think that Fulham's success is only due to their passing game. I think a lot of it is to do with the pace up front. I watched the West Ham game on TV and the thing that won us the game was the pace of the players like Boa Morte, Saha and Hayles. They were took quick for West Ham, and although West Ham had a lot of the ball, Fulham were always looking dangerous on the break because of the space. With the passing that goes with it, it's a great set up.
The last time we were in the top flight, you were a Fulham player, and at the time many people accused us of being underachievers. Do you agree with that?
These days and those days are obviously very different. But one of the major things is that in those days Fulham were a selling club. We did buy one or two players, but on the whole we were a selling club. And if you sell your best players you don't do as well as you could do. These days it's very different. Fulham are a buying club and have bought well and it shows in the results over the last two or three years.
You were one noteable exception to that, chosing to stay at Fulham for your whole career. Why did you make that decision?
Well at that time you didn't really have much choice. I was always in the position that the Club didn't really want to sell me or cash in on me. So if the Club weren't willing to sell that was the end of the story. You couldn't stand up and say you wanted to go. I was at Fulham for my whole career and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn't think I'd be any happier or that I'd enjoy myself any more at another club and that's one of the reasons I stayed. We didn't actually win anything but we had some success. We got to the FA Cup twice, we got promotions and we stayed in the top league for ten years and I enjoyed it. Playing for another club wasn't something that was important to me.
Do you keep in touch with many of your old Fulham team mates?
I speak to Tosh (Chamberlain) a couple of times a week on the phone. I spoke to Georgie Cohen this morning. I see one or two of them when I'm down in London.
Newcastle's Manager Bobby Robson was part of a well-renowned inside forward trio with Beddy Jezzard and you here at Fulham. What do you remember about those days?
We were all pretty young at the time. Beddy was maybe three or four years older, and Bob and I were almost the same age. But we were highly thought of because Newcastle tried to buy the three of us. But we were just mates who enjoyed our football. I've known Bobby all my life - we're old mates. I've seen quite a bit of Bobby - I've been to quite a few dinners when he's been there - I still see him quite often.
Bobby has undoubtedly been one of the most successful English managers since he finished playing, and he cut his managerial teeth here at Fulham. Was management ever something that interested you?
No, playing the game was my big interest and I never really got involved in coaching. Once I'd finished playing that was the end of it - I wasn't interested in doing anything else.
So what's been your line of business since you retired from football?
I was in the bookmaking game - I was a partner in a business. We sold out probably twenty years ago now and I did reasonably well out of it. My wife runs a couple of companies in Edinburgh that I'm involved in so I'm not officially retired yet - semi retired I suppose.
Do you remember any particularly memorable games that you played in against Newcastle?
Funnily enough, the most exciting game I ever played in was against Newcastle in the middle 50s (Jan 1956). It was a cup-tie at Craven Cottage, they were the Cup holders and we were in the old Second Division. It was a great draw for us to get the holders. After about twenty minutes we were about 3-0 down, but five minutes after half time we were 4-3 in front which would have been a tremendous result if it had stayed that way. But Newcastle scored two in the last five minutes and we finished up getting beat 5-4, but it was a tremendous game of football.
It's widely known that you were the first player to earn £100 a week. How do you feel about weekly wages approaching the £100,000 mark and transfer fees hitting £30 and £40 million?
The whole scene of football has taken off completely in the last five years or so. With television rights there is so much money in the game. I'm delighted for the players. As long as TV stays interested the money will be there. The players are worth it because if they weren't there you wouldn't get any football. If there is somebody there to put up the money the players must get their fair share.
What are your opinions on the number of foreign players plying their trade in the Premiership? Is it a good thing or does it bring problems?
I think it's a bit of each. It certainly fetches problems for English or Scottish born players. But it's obviously done the business for the Premier League because it's made it so entertaining. So many good players have come from different European countries. I suppose overall it's been a good thing.
As a former England captain, what do you think about the national team at the moment, especially with the World Cup approaching?
They've done well qualifying for the World Cup - it was a bit tight at the end but obviously the result in Munich decided that for us. But we limped home against Greece and that wasn't a good performance. Overall we were obviously the best team in the group because we won so handsomely in Germany. The Germans couldn't beat Finland in their final game so they really didn't deserve to qualify automatically. These three games coming up will be interesting but there'll be about 16 or 17 players who'll take part in each game and they're not that important. What is important is the Finals next year.
Many people are saying that this will be an unusually open World Cup. Who do you fancy?
I wouldn't like to tip anybody to be quite honest. Playing out there in South Korea and Japan, I think anybody could win if you take into account the conditions - things like the hummidity. Normally you can pick out the winners from three or four teams, but I wouldn't like to name anybody in this one - it could be any of them.