|Full name||Stephen Brian Hodge|
|Date of birth||25 October 1962|
|Place of birth||Nottingham, England|
|Height||5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)|
|1994||→ Derby County (loan)||10||(2)|
|1994–1995||Queens Park Rangers||15||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 16 April 2007.
† Appearances (Goals).
Stephen Brian Hodge (born 25 October 1962) is a retired English footballer who enjoyed a high-profile club and international career in the 1980s and 1990s.
On 27 October 2013 Hodge was appointed caretaker manager at Notts County.
Hodge, a left-footed midfielder who was comfortable in a central or wide position, was born in Nottingham, England and joined his boyhood club Nottingham Forest as an apprentice in 1980 and made his debut against Ipswich Town on the final day of the 1981–82 season.
A favourite of Forest's charismatic manager Brian Clough, Hodge became a first-team regular the following season as the club tried to build a new young team after the side which won two European Cups began to age and disintegrate. Hodge was a frequent goalscorer from midfield as Forest consolidated their League position were unable to push for trophies other than a semi-final in the UEFA Cup in 1984, where they lost in controversial circumstances to Anderlecht.
However, the move to Villa did work initially but really the team was in decline and once he had got England recognition it was perceived by the Villa fans that he wasn't committed to the Villa cause which was typified during a 4–1 home defeat by Norwich City where he did an awful back pass to Kevin Poole and was slotted in by a Norwich player – the boos ringing round the ground signalled the beginning of the end for his Villa career and Hodge left Villa in acrimonious circumstances and signed for Tottenham in November 1986 for £650,000.
Though he was only three caps into his international career by the time Robson announced his squad, Hodge was given a place on the plane to Mexico, coming on as a substitute in the first two group games against Portugal and Morocco, which England lost and drew respectively.
Making urgent changes for the final group game against Poland, Robson put Hodge in the side and he responded with an outstanding personal display within a crushing team performance. Hodge's superb left wing cross on the run gave Gary Lineker his second goal in a first half hat-trick which eased England's passage to the second round.
There they faced Paraguay, and it was a sliding, stretching Hodge who kept in an over-hit cross from Glenn Hoddle, by pushing the ball into the path of Lineker to tap home. Again England were 3–0 victors, with Argentina awaiting ominously in the last eight. Here Hodge would earn his own mildly dubious place in England's history – and a highly prized memento.
Early in the second half, the score was still goalless and the game tightly contested when Diego Maradona cut in from the right hand side of the penalty area and attempted a one-two with team-mate Jorge Valdano. The return pass, however, went behind Maradona and found Hodge who managed to connect with the ball with his left foot and send it towards his own goalkeeper, Peter Shilton, who started to come out of his goalmouth to collect.
It remains unclear whether Hodge was aware that Maradona had continued his run and had intended to pass the ball back to Shilton, or whether he intended to clear the ball but miskicked. Either way, Maradona and Shilton both challenged for the ball and, even though Shilton was considerably taller, it was the Argentine captain who got the crucial touch and found the net – using his hand. The referee gave the goal, which later became known as the Hand of God goal.
Maradona did get an outstanding individual second goal minutes later, before Hodge set up a chance for substitute Barnes to beat two defenders and cross for Lineker to score. But England couldn't find the equaliser and went out of the tournament. Hodge, however, managed to swap shirts with Maradona afterwards and maintains his possession of it to this day.
Tottenham manager David Pleat put Hodge wide on the left of a vibrant, attacking five-man midfield which also included England team-mates Hoddle and Chris Waddle, Argentinian veteran Osvaldo Ardiles and hardworking ballwinner Paul Allen. Each were expected to contribute goals and assists behind one main centre forward, Clive Allen, and it worked. Hodge scored on his debut on Boxing Day 1986 in a 4–0 thrashing of West Ham United and scored three times more while creating plenty for others as Spurs chased three trophies.
Sadly for Hodge, his quest for domestic success eluded him again as Spurs were knocked out by fierce rivals Arsenal in the semi finals of the League Cup, tailed off in their First Division title charge and came third, and lost a thrilling FA Cup final at Wembley against Coventry City, following an outstanding 4–1 semi-final win over Watford in which Hodge scored twice.
One consolation was that Hodge was keeping hold of his England place that season, winning his 15th cap in a goalless draw against Scotland at Wembley. But then he would be suddenly cast into the international wilderness.
1987 had been a peak year for Spurs, and their form could not be maintained into the following season, especially with the departures of Hoddle and then manager Pleat. Meanwhile, Hodge's main rival for England's left-sided slot, Barnes, had joined Liverpool in the summer and proceeded to play a starring, spectacular role in an all-conquering season which demanded his restoration to the England team. Hodge played out the 1988 season with Spurs but his form was not up to standard, and he was not selected for the squad which went to the European Championship finals. In hindsight, it was handy for Hodge not to have been there, as England played appallingly in all three group matches, losing the lot and coming home disgraced.
Return to Forest
Robson recalled Hodge for the first game after the European Championships – a 1–0 win over Denmark at Wembley – as Hodge had been back on form after an astute Clough paid Spurs 550,000 pounds to take him back to Nottingham Forest. Hodge was again cast aside internationally afterwards, but his club form improved dramatically and he found himself regularly called up by Robson as a result, though actual appearances were scarce.
Forest won the Full Members Cup in 1989 and then reached the League Cup final, with Hodge finally winning a major domestic medal. The 3–1 win over Luton Town at Wembley saw Hodge play a crucial part as it was he, making a foraging run from deep, who was brought down for the penalty which Nigel Clough converted, setting Forest on the road to victory. A week later, however, Hodge was one of the Forest players who had to cope with the horrors of the Hillsborough disaster during the opening minutes of their FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool. Hodge played in the rescheduled game at Old Trafford, which Liverpool won 3–1.
The following season, Hodge played as Forest retained the League Cup with a 1–0 win over Oldham Athletic, having managed to force his way back into the England reckoning with a strong appearance as a substitute against Italy at Wembley, by which time England's place at the 1990 World Cup was secured. Hodge subsequently played in the final four warm-up matches before the tournament itself.
To his delight, Hodge then made the final squad but he then suffered an injury and, as a consequence, the ignominy of being the only outfield England player not to kick a ball during the tournament, even though England reached the semi-finals. He didn't even regain his fitness in time to get on the pitch for the third-place play-off game.
Robson quit after the World Cup and Hodge was not selected initially by successor Graham Taylor. At the time he was struggling to hold down a regular place in the Forest midfield after the emergence of teenage Irish phenomenon Roy Keane to partner Garry Parker, who had become the first-choice central midfielder despite being the only one of the three never to play international football.
Taylor brought Hodge back for a 2–0 win over Cameroon early in 1991 and he was then given his 24th cap in a 1–0 win against Turkey in İzmir in a qualifier for the 1992 European Championships. He had, however, lost his Forest place by then and was only named as a substitute by Clough for the 1991 FA Cup final against his old club Tottenham Hotspur.
Hodge came on as a second half substitute but Spurs ran out 2–1 winners after extra time. In the summer, Clough sold him to Leeds United for £900,000 – the highest transfer fee Hodge had commanded even though he was seemingly past his best and had seen his international career almost certainly brought to an end.
Both proved to be the case, as he struggled to win regular football at Elland Road, though played enough times in his first season to earn a First Division championship medal, even though more noticeable midfield players – Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister, Gary Speed and David Batty – spent more time in the side and got the plaudits.
He had a loan spell with Derby County before being allowed to leave Leeds and join Queens Park Rangers for a nominal fee in 1994. Two seasons followed with Hodge playing just 15 times, and he joined Watford and played twice in their unsuccessful battle to avoid relegation from Division One in the 1995–96 season.
An unsuccessful trial at Walsall came in the autumn of 1996, followed by a brief spell playing in Hong Kong. He signed for Division Three side Leyton Orient in March 1998, playing just once before finally retiring from playing at the end of the season.
Hodge after giving up playing, occasionally appeared on TV programmes to show off the Maradona shirt. He has since given the shirt to the National Football Museum in Manchester on a long-term loan.
In December 2002, the ex-England football internationals, Gary Mabbutt, Jason Dodd and Hodge, visited Iran to give a one-week coaching course to young footballers and youth-team international coaches.
Hodge had been at the Nottingham Forest Academy coaching the U 14's side.
In 2010 Hodge released an autobiography entitled, "The Man With Maradona's Shirt".