Joe Kinnear first made an impression as a player with St Albans City. His talent as a defender was recognised and in 1963, aged 17, he moved to Tottenham Hotspur as an amateur footballer.
Learning his footballing skills under the managership of Bill Nicholson, Joe made his Tottenham debut on 8 April 1966 in a 4–1 home defeat by West Ham United. He spent ten years with Spurs, playing in the 1967 FA Cup Final against Chelsea, game Tottenham won 2–1. Joe made almost 200 league appearances for Tottenham, scoring two league goals. He won four major honours during his time at the club: the FA Cup in 1967; the UEFA Cup in 1972 and the EFL Cup on two occasions (in 1971 and 1973). In 1975, he moved to the Seagulls, where he made 18 appearances before retiring aged 30.