Buckingham joined Tottenham Hotspur in 1935 and played 230 games as a defensive midfielder before leaving in 1949. He started his managerial career with amateur teams Pegasus F.C. and Bradford Park Avenue before attracting the attention of the senior clubs. During his management of Ajax Amsterdam, he spotted the young Johan Cruijff who was to go on to develop Buckingham's ideas into the mature concept of Total Football. According to an article by Stephen Thanabalan in World Soccer Magazine, Buckingham's ideas were radically ahead of his time - engendering total football philosphies and youth systems - and earnt him a continental reputation (especially in Spain where he was appointed coach of Sevilla FC and then FC Barcelona) that more often than not, overshadowed his talent back home. The article states that this lack of accreditation back home may have been in part due to a huge blip on his domestic career after innuendoes were cast upon his association with match fixing in the British betting scandal of 1964, revealed shortly after his management reign at Sheffield Wednesday (an anomaly and far greater socially subversive issue in the 1960s). Proof that Buckingham never received the reputation he might have deserved is evident in many areas, including the fact that although he was one of the first English managers to coach top European sides like Ajax Amsterdam and FC Barcelona, and has Cruyff as one of his biggest fans, he remained largely unremembered in his native England, while many in Holland and Spain mourned deeply after news of his death in 1995.
The allegations began shortly after he stepped down as manager of Sheffield Wednesday, and though were never proven against him, tainted his career as three of the players there – Peter Swan, Tony Kay and David Layne – were accused of taking bribes to fix a match with Ipswich Town on December 1, 1962, and betting on their team to lose .
- Oxford University/Pegasus F.C.
- ?? - 1959: Bradford Park Avenue
- 1952 - 1959: West Bromwich Albion
- 1959 - 1961 and 1964 - 1965: Ajax Amsterdam
- 1961 - 1964: Sheffield Wednesday
- 1965 - 1968: Fulham
- 1970 - Ethnikos Piraeus
- Olympiakos Piraeus
- 1970 - 1971: FC Barcelona
He died in Chichester, England.