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Where are they now: Terry Mancini

2 May 2013

Depending on the generation, the mention of the surname Mancini will prompt association to two very different players, from different parts of the world. One was a flamboyant attacker and the other a man who simply loved defending.

While a teenage Roberto was progressing in Italian youth football, prior to making his name at Sampdoria, his name-sake Terry was coming towards the end of a very successful career.

Terry, now 70, was synonymous with London clubs during his career, appearing in The Football League for the likes of Leyton Orient, Queens Park Rangers and Arsenal, making over 300 appearances.

Since hanging up his boots in the late 70s, though, the former defender has been busy travelling the world with his own events business, via a stint working in a pub and for a travel company.

"When I left football I worked in the family business, which was a pub," he explained. "I did that for 14 years and we ended up selling it. I then got approached by a travel company and I ended up doing that for 15 years.

"Unfortunately it went into administration five years ago but in my time there I had built up a very successful events side to that company.

"The two girls that worked with me were going to be made redundant so I decided to set up my own events company and take the girls - and the clients and contacts I had built up - with me."

In his post-football career, Mancini admits he's never in one place for a very long time, but he wouldn't have it any other way.

And, surprisingly, football is never too far away, with his work bringing him into contact with a number of clubs, as well as some ex-players.

"We take events and groups, both entertainment and corporate, all over the world. We go to LA, Cape Town and we do stuff in Spain, Portugal, Barbados, South Africa - it's great.

"We do celebrity events and deal with a lot of ex-footballers. In fact, we're just starting the first former footballers' world matchplay event, which is being held at Essendon Golf Club in Hertfordshire in aid of Bob Wilson's foundation.

"We've got 30 teams and the winner gets to play in our flagship location in La Manga next year. Some of the players include Pat Jennings, Russell Osman, Dave Beasant, Des Walker and Paul Jewell, to name just a few."

Although the Camden-born defender spent much of his playing days in the English capital, the fact he now loves to travel shouldn't come as a surprise.

Before he embarked on a career that would see him promoted twice, once with Orient and again with QPR, he lived in South Africa for a while and also spent time playing on the other side of the pond, for Los Angeles Aztecs.

"I started my career at Watford but didn't do too much there. I didn't settle under manager Ken Firphy and I was given a free transfer, so I went to play in South Africa.

"It was probably the best thing that could have happened to me, because it gave me time to think and concentrate on getting fit without the sideline attractions of London.

"I knuckled down, captained a side to win the championship and had a really good two years. It was the making of me. I grew up as a person and as a player and I came back and gave things another try here to see if I could do it, which is when I signed for Leyton Orient.

"I didn't win a great deal in my career, so I suppose winning promotion with Leyton Orient and QPR were the highlights.

"I captained the O's to the Third Division title in 1969/70. They sold me the following season to QPR and we finished runners-up to Birmingham City in the old Second Division, so it was a pretty eventful couple of years.

"Just after that, QPR become the top London club too, which isn't a surprise as we had a super side. We had Phil Parkes, Frank McLintock, Dave Webb, Gerry Francis, Terry Venables, Rodney Marsh and Stan Bowles. It was a blinding team and that was the thing, we were a team."

Football is, of course, an ever-changing game, and it has developed dramatically since Mancini appeared in The League.

And the former Republic of Ireland international, who gained five caps, admits most of the success he experienced was without any coaching at all - a vast contrast to the round-the-clock supervision and advice given at clubs today.

Although he was involved in a big-money transfer deal, something that is part and parcel of modern-day football.

"At Leyton Orient we won the Division Three title under Jimmy Bloomfield. Today all the talk is about coaching, massages and dieticians and this and that, but we won that title without any coaching.

"He didn't coach us at all throughout that season, he would just pick two five-a-side games and let us get on with it. Can you imagine that today? But it worked. We were a dedicated bunch.

"I was placed on the transfer list at QPR when I was 33 and the very next day Arsenal came in and offered £45k. They only wanted £15k.

"Obviously it's nothing compared to today's figures, but a jump of £30k was quite a lot. In the end, the two clubs agreed on £25k. After I left, the QPR chairman told me he would have sold me for £5k to a Third Division side if they came in for me."

In his own words, playing for Arsenal was a "sensational experience" and he helped the Gunners survive in the First Division, giving them the grounding to go onto their future successes.

It was following his time with Arsenal that his life away from London begun, first to Aldershot before the more glamorous surroundings of LA.

"I was lined up to go to America but Aldershot came in to give me a short-term contract until the end of the season. I actually left before the season ended to go to Los Angeles, where I played with the likes of George Best and Charlie Cooke. We had a super time, it was a very sociable team.

"I remember when I went to America I was very excited. It was a huge culture change but I loved it. I remember thinking 'this is it, this is where I'm going to live forever'.

"The strange thing was that after that season I couldn't wait to leave, it wasn't all that after all. But I've been back many times and my son was born there, so I will always have memories of the place."

It's been quite a journey for a player who spent his career blocking opponents' routes to goal, to now find himself overseeing their travel plans around the world.

You can be sure wherever he stops off next, Terry will greet you with the same passion he showed on the pitch.

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