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GLENN IS LIKE MY CHILD!; The touching story of Hoddle's faith healer.

The shocking breakdown of England coach Glenn Hoddle's marriage has silenced the cheers following England's World Cup qualification in Italy. Hoddle has retreated from his broken home to stay with Eileen Drewery (above left), a psychic healer, who first became a force in his life more than 20 years ago. Chief sports writer David Barnes is the only journalist to interview them both at length. Here he tells the touching story of the football hero and the woman with healing hands.

Glenn Hoddle always had faith that he'd be going to the World Cup finals with the most formidable England team in years.

And John Gorman, his best friend and right hand man, was just as sure where Hoddle would go at the worst time of his life.

For not only are Hoddle and Gorman forever linked as the managerial team who planned and pulled off the most spectacular qualifying coup in England's history.

They also sought comfort together in the healing hands of Eileen Drewery, the one-time pub landlady now sheltering Hoddle after the stunning break- up of his marriage.

I am the only journalist in the country to have interviewed at length both Eileen and Glenn about the spiritual relationship which has so enriched his life.

Even Eileen - with Glenn so sadly separated from his wife and young children - does not claim that she can mend a broken heart.

Nor did she have any reason to do so when I first met her in a pub called The Shark in Harlow, Essex.

It was just after opening time on a freezing night in the build up to Christmas, 1979. Just a few months before Hoddle won the first of his 53 England caps at the age of 21.

Eileen, a striking brunette and mother of Hoddle's girlfriend Michelle, was pulling pints for regulars scattered around the bar and tables. Astonishingly, the story she told was to have echoes 15 years later when Hoddle - then Chelsea's mature player-manager - revealed how their supernatural bond had stood the test of time.

Eileen told me: "I have an affinity with Glenn. I feel he is like my child and felt that from the word go.

"Glenn told me his grandma on his mother's side was a great believer in faith healing but he had always been sceptical until he met me.

"If Glenn got hurt while on tour, I told him to sit down by himself and picture my face.

"That may sound conceited but I know I am only an instrument. I have no special gifts. I am only being used."

Eileen, who laid her hands on Hoddle's damaged limbs for up to 20 minutes at a time, added: "I feel this tremendous heat. It's like the tingle you get from a hot water bottle. Glenn has told me he gets what he calls funny sensations around the injured areas."

Hoddle has assumed an unprecedented burden in guiding England to the World Cup finals in France next summer.

Yesterday, speaking on BBC's Grandstand, he insisted his marriage split had nothing to do with football pressures.

He has also shared the battles men like Paul Gascoigne, Tony Adams, Ian Wright and Paul Merson have had to fight against their personal demons.

Now Hoddle and his wife Anne require the support they are no longer to give each other. Hoddle finds his under the roof of the lady with whom he has, over the years, refined a technique of "absent healing".

That may be beyond the understanding of many. Certainly mine when Glenn told me how he planned to beat a sore achilles tendon before Chelsea's FA Cup semi-final with Luton three years ago.

He said: "I have already been in touch with my healer by telephone and the process known as absent healing has already started. To put it simply, the healer sends out prayers for my fitness and I switch off for about 20 minutes a day and try to lock into them."

Hoddle realises, of course, that such beliefs will have many fans wondering about his grip on reality. But he insisted: "I'd be wrong to stay quiet. If only one person decided to try it for himself after hearing this it will be worth it.

"The trouble is people often use faith healing as a last resort and by then their condition is so much worse."

His assistant Gorman, though, is well aware of the extraordinary faith Glenn places in Eileen's spiritual capacity.

Gorman had two operations on torn knee ligaments while a team mate of Hoddle at Spurs. He was advised to quit football by a Harley Street specialist and offered a coaching job at Spurs by manager Keith Burkinshaw.

Gorman, at Hoddle's insistence, had three healing sessions with Eileen and made such a good recovery that he returned at senior level and later played in the United States.

He told me: "I once drove about 40 miles to see Mrs Drewery the night before a big game against Nottingham Forest.

"Glenn had kept on at me to see her and, in the end, I felt I had nothing to lose."

Eileen burst into tears during one of their sessions and Gorman added: "She couldn't explain why she was crying. I told her I had sobbed just like that when I was told my second operation hadn't worked.

"I didn't think Mrs Drewery was a crank. She did it all for nothing. All I ever gave her was a box of chocolates to say thanks."

Glenn and Eileen once shared a laugh when she promised to use her influence to win a match for Spurs.

She told me: "I mentally sealed up one of the goals with a plate of glass. I really concentrated and the score at half time was 0-0. Everyone expected Spurs to win and Glenn later asked me what went wrong when the game finished without any goals.

"It was only then I realised the teams had switched ends. I don't go to matches and I'd kept the same goal sealed up!"

These are the sounds of fun from years gone by. Eileen treated EIGHT of Glenn's injuries in all.

The open wound that afflicts the Hoddle family now is probably beyond her powers of healing. Meanwhile, though, she continues to figure in one of the most unusual stories known to sport.
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Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Barnes, David
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 19, 1997
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