Justin Edinburgh

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Leyton Orient manager Justin Edinburgh dies at 49

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Former Tottenham Hotspur defender and current Leyton Orient manager Justin Edinburgh died on Saturday days after suffering a cardiac arrest on his return from Spain where he attended the Champions League final.

Just weeks ago, the 49-year-old had led the former Premier League side back into the Football League by topping the National League table.

During his 18-year playing career, Edinburgh made 215 appearances for Tottenham as a natural left-back. He had traveled to Spain to watch his former club play in the Champions League final, but upon his return Monday he collapsed and was hospitalized. He died Saturday afternoon, both Leyton Orient and Tottenham confirmed.

“We are completely heartbroken by this tragedy,” Orient chairman Nigel Travis said via an official club statement.

“All our thoughts and love are with the Edinburgh family and we know from the messages that have flooded into the club over the last week that the wider football world will share our sentiments. The success that Justin brought to Leyton Orient was incredible, but more importantly the impact he had on us all as a winner and a wonderful, inspirational human being will be his legacy and will stay with us forever.”

Edinburgh played 10 years for Spurs, joining in 1990 from Southend United initially on loan before joining permanently soon after. In his 215 appearances, he scored one goal and was part of the squads that won the 1991 FA Cup and the 1999 League Cup. He began his managerial career in 2003 as a player-manager for National League side Billericay Town and took charge of Newport County, Gillingham, and Northampton Town before leading Leyton Orient in 2017.

Ex-Spurs man claims Klinsmann “changed the mentality” of Tottenham

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Gillingham are long shots to advance any further in the EFL Cup than Wednesday’s third round match against Tottenham Hotspur.

Gills manager Justin Edinburgh is extra excited for the match, having spent 10 years with Spurs as a defender.

[ MORE: EFL Cup roundup ]

The League One match is reveling in the chance to manage against his old club at White Hart Lane on Wednesday, and reflected on his time at Spurs during a feature interview with The Daily Mail this week.

In it, the 46-year-old Edinburgh praises ex-Spurs teammate and current USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann. He said the German changed “the mentality of the club” and “the way I thought about football.”

From The Daily Mail:

“After his first day of training he went up to the coaches. We were training with balls that were all mixed, plucked from all over the place. He asked: ‘Are these the match balls?’ They just said, ‘We play with different balls.’

“Jurgen insisted: Why aren’t we training with match balls?’ It sounds simple now but back then it wasn’t being done. The manner in which we trained, the tempo, intensity, professionalism all changed with Jurgen.”

Klinsmann scored 39 goals in 68 appearances for Spurs across two stints with the Premier League outfit, part of a 277-goal club career (He added 47 for Germany and West Germany).

Wednesday’s kickoff between Gillingham and Spurs is at 3 p.m. ET. The USMNT is back in action on Oct. 7 at Cuba before hosting New Zealand on Oct. 11.