Terry Mancini: Arsenal occasional and thoroughly decent bloke

By Tony Attwood

Terry John Mancini was born 4 October 1942  as Terry Sealy) in Camden Town.

He joined Watford in 1960 and as he said in an interview much later, “I played for 5 years in and mostly out of Watford’s first team.”

Then after a serious injury he spent two seasons playing for Port Elizabeth City in South Africa, where was able to recover from injury and win the South African League and Cup. PE City were in fact the first South African team to have a professional side, and they were the first side whose owner would travel to England to persuade players to go to South Africa.

Terry later said, “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.”

With Terry in the side Orient won the third division in 1970.  “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.

This was, as he said, a team that included Phil Parkes, Frank McLintock, Dave Webb, Gerry Francis, Terry Venables, Rodney Marsh and Stan Bowles.

He also became, of all things, an occasional presenter of “The Big Match”, ITV’s sunday afternoon version of Match of the Day, which was forever trying  (not always successfully) to be different from Motd.

He won his first of five caps against Poland in 1973 and went on to win five in total. It is typical of the guy that he once said in an interview that when he first appeared for the Ireland, he did not realize that the band was playing the national anthem, having only found out “by chance” that he was qualified to play for Ireland

On 24 October 1974 Terry Mancini was bought by Arsenal from QPR for £200,000,, which Terry said was “a great surprise”.  He became captain of the team on occasion playing alongside Ball, Brady, O’Leary, Stapleton etc.

His final Arsenal game was on 24 April 1976: Man City 3 Arsenal 1, as Arsenal ended the season in 17th position – the worst position since 1925,  the final year of Knighton’s reign (after which Chapman took over).  He had made 62 appearances and was released on a free going to Aldershot for the remainder of the season.

He had already arranged to go and play with George Best in LA, which he did next, and then and retired in early 1979.

What makes Terry such a likeable guy is what he said about that moment.  “I felt I had worked hard enough and achieved more than most would have thought, certainly with the limitations I had as a player. The one thing that always pushed me further was the belief in my own ability which I find is very important to any footballer, sportsman or individual in a 9-5 job. “Work hard at the qualities you have and an attitude that never gives up”.   It worked for me!”   It’s a nice approach to see.

Here is his list of clubs.

Season Club Games Goals
1961-1966 Watford 67 0
1966-1967 Port Elizabeth City 48 1
1967-1971 Orient 167 16
1971-1974 QPR 94 3
1974-1976 Arsenal 52 1
1976-1977 Aldershot 21 0
1977 LA Aztecs 26 3
1978 Barnet ? 0


After retiring from playing, Mancini did a spell in coaching, although I am not sure where (although I think Barnet was one) and then worked in the family pub for 14 years, before the business was sold.

Next he got approached by a travel company in 1994 and built up their events division, getting celebrities involved and taking top football teams over to La Manga in Spain for training breaks.  He said of that period in his life, “Unfortunately it went into administration… 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.”

Mancini Events has been involved in The Footballers Golf Classic, and also takes the England & Welsh National football teams plus Premiership and Championship football teams from the UK to training destinations.

In all his interviews Mancini comes across as a thoroughly nice bloke.  Once, when asked about being called “Henry” at QPR he said, “Henry Mancini was a great American composer. In fact, one of the national newspapers arranged for me to meet the real Henry when he was on tour in the UK. There was a photo of us arm in arm entitled ‘Henry meets Henry!’ He was a very nice guy and I think he secretly wanted to be a footballer.”  It’s just a nice, relaxed style that he has.

And he has also launched the first former footballers’ world matchplay event in aid of Bob Wilson’s foundation, which obviously gives him a plus mark from our perspective.

Arsenal History Society blog


One Reply to “Terry Mancini: Arsenal occasional and thoroughly decent bloke”

  1. Certainly not an “occasional”, Terry Mancini remained first choice centre-back for as long as he was needed, having made a difference from the moment he signed. Would never claim any ability on the ground whatsoever but, as was required of him, restored some leadership to the defence.

    He would indeed have been greatly surprised had he been signed for £200,000.!!! That ought to read £20,000.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *