Harry Redknapp with his hand on his chin Credit: Fabulous / News Licensing

Harry Redknapp: “Sandra forgave me when I ran over her foot”

The football manager, 76, on his friendship with Bobby Moore, his marriage to Sandra and why he has no plans to retire.

Football has been a huge part of your life, from playing professionally to managing clubs. Where does your love of the game come from?

I remember my dad taking me to my first game at Millwall when I just six years old. I was so small I had to watch it standing on a wooden box. My dad was a huge Arsenal fan and I definitely got my love of football from him. My sons Mark and Jamie have always been football mad too. Jamie loved Luton Town as a kid and had posters all over his walls. Both of them would kick balls around the house and I can’t tell you how many of my wife Sandra’s ornaments got smashed.


Were you scouted at a young age?

Yes. In the West Ham youth team [aged 15] I was honoured to play with the great Bobby Moore. He was a brilliant footballer, but he was also
a very good friend and I miss him dearly. He’d have loved to have seen West Ham win the UEFA Europa Conference League [in June], although I like to think he was up there celebrating.

Harry Redknapp on the pitch playing football in 1967Credit: Ed Lacey/Popperfoto via Getty Images
Harry Redknapp playing for West Ham United in March 1967

You went on to be a football manager for 34 years from 1983 to 2017 at clubs including West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur. Have you finally retired now?

Not a chance. I can’t. I find it hard to say no to things – it drives Sandra mad. Recently, I’ve done Harry’s Heroes for ITV, managed in Soccer Aid and last year Jamie and I filmed Jamie & Harry’s World Cup Challenge [for Sky Max]. What a laugh that was.

You’ve just celebrated your 55th wedding anniversary. What’s the secret to a long, happy marriage?

People often ask us that and it’s a hard question to answer really. We both feel very lucky. We just enjoy each other’s company and there’s no one else I’d rather be with. Sandra’s my rock. Jamie’s always said I won the lottery when I met her, and he’s right. She even forgave me when I accidentally ran over her foot [in 2016], slicing it open like a piece of bacon. That was horrific, but she didn’t blame me once, though I’ll never forgive myself.

How did you two meet?

I first met her in The Two Puddings pub in Stratford in 1963 and I was definitely more keen on her than she was on me. She wasn’t interested in football and on our first night courting, I got so drunk, my mate had to drive her home. She wasn’t impressed, but luckily she forgave me.

Harry and Sandra RedknappCredit: Ken McKay/ITV/ Shutterstock
Harry and Sandra have been married for 55 years

Have you had many ups and downs?

Yes, I was almost killed in a car crash in 1990, we had a police raid at our home, then a tax trial – but they’ve only made us stronger. Just before I flew to Australia for I’m a Celebrity… in 2018, Sandra got sepsis. I was terrified I was going to lose her and I nearly didn’t get on the plane. But she wasn’t having it – she wanted me to go. I’ll never forget the moment she came into camp to see me. It was the first time she’d seen me cry. I’ve always known Sandra is a very special lady, but now, after the jungle, everyone else knows it too.

You wrote a book together, When Harry Met Sandra, and revealed health problems you’ve battled. Was it hard to open up?

I’ve had a kidney cancer scare and a stent fitted into my heart, and Sandra’s had ovarian cancer and really suffered with her throat after damaging her vocal cords. In the book, Sandra also wrote about a miscarriage she’d had while 12 weeks pregnant, in 1969. She worked with her sister Pat in the local hairdresser’s in Barking and it was there she started to feel unwell.

I remember I was playing for West Ham against Mansfield in an FA Cup tie and had no clue what was going on. There were no mobile phones then, of course, so she had to wait for me to come back home to tell me. It was a difficult time, but we were fortunate when she became pregnant with Mark a few months later, then again with Jamie after that. Sandra’s a shy and private person, and even she was surprised she was so open, but she believes life has a way of working itself out and wanted to share that.

Your family has grown a lot since then…

I was an only child so to have a family as big as ours is just fantastic. We have eight grandchildren and one great grandson. Jamie and his wife Frida gave us our youngest grandson Rapha in November 2021. He’s a little cracker and everyone says he looks like me – but then Jamie will say all babies look like me! Both Mark and Jamie are good dads. They were much more hands-on than I ever was, but there was none of that in our day. I hate to say it, but the women did everything. If your missus was pregnant and gave birth during the game, you’d get told at half time and play the second half. You couldn’t do that now, but that’s just how it was back then.

Harry Redknapp stands next to his son JamieCredit: ITV

Where do you live now?

Sandra and I moved to Bournemouth after work brought me here when the kids were little. We love it here – I can’t imagine us being anywhere else. We’d always lived in and around Sandbanks, which is a beautiful part of the world. We used to live on the beach, but tourists would peer over our garden, so we moved to Poole for privacy.

What do you enjoy doing?

We like to eat out a couple of times a week, either at Rick Stein’s or our favourite little Italian, and share a bottle of wine. I’m an early riser – I always have been – so I’ll go out first thing and grab a newspaper and some fresh croissants while Sandra brews some coffee. She doesn’t trust me to make coffee as I’m really messy and get milk and sugar all over the worktops. She calls me Mr Pastry from the 1950s kids’ TV show because I’m so clumsy and a bit silly. Once I was jet-washing the patio and thought I’d water the flowers, but the jet took off all the heads. There were petals everywhere – Sandra hasn’t let me touch the garden since!

When Harry Met Sandra: Our Love Story (Mirror Books, £9.99) is out now in paperback


Written by Lisa Jarvis