|Full name:||Stanley Matthews|
|Date of birth:||February 1, 1915|
|Date of death:||February 23, 2000|
|Clubs played for:||Stoke, Blackpool|
|Clubs managed:||Port Vale|
Recognised as one of the most outrageously talented footballers of all-time, Matthews had the kind of close ball skills that most players can only dream of. He signed for his hometown club, Stoke, early in 1932 and made his league debut away at Bury on March 19, becoming a firm favourite with the fans over the following 15 years.
He moved on to Blackpool for £11,500 in 1947 at the age of 32, where people expected him simply to play out the last couple of years of his career. Instead, a rejuvenated Matthews remained with the Seasiders for a staggering 14 years as a key player in the club’s most successful era, winning the FA Cup in 1953 and performing at the highest level of the game throughout. He was named Footballer Of The Year in 1948, European Footballer of The Year in 1956 and was awarded a CBE in the 1957 New Year’s Honours List.
After rejoining Stoke in 1961, Matthews helped the club to the Second Division Championship in 1963 and was again voted Footballer Of The Year for his key role in the club’s success. Matthews finally bowed out of top-level football in 1965, but continued in the game as Port Vale manager for a time before moving to Malta to play and coach Hibernians. He was still playing and coaching the game he loved into his 60s.
Matthews died aged 85 in February 2000. His legacy to the world of football is immense and to many he was the greatest English player of all-time.
Matthews made a scoring debut for England against Wales in 1934 and represented his country for the last time in 1957, making his the longest ever England career. He appeared at both the 1950 and 1954 World Cups and would doubtless have won many more caps had World War II not interrupted his career.
International Career Stats
England 5-4 Czechoslovakia (International friendly, December 1, 1937)
England took on Czechoslovakia at Tottenham’s White Hart Lane ground and in a ding-dong do it was Matthews who produced the decisive performance to seal a 5-4 win. With the score at 2-1 for the home side, an injury to George Mills saw the player moved out to the wing and Matthews into the inside forward slot. It was from there that Matthews notched three goals, scoring the winner with a deflected shot. Incredibly, all three of his strikes were scored with his weaker left foot.
Blackpool 4-3 Bolton (FA Cup final, May 2, 1953)
After twice finishing on the losing side with Blackpool, it was third time lucky for Matthews in the 1953 FA Cup Final as the Seasiders came back from 3-1 down against Bolton to win 4-3. It was Matthews who almost single-handedly inspired the fightback, dribbling brilliantly out on the wing and providing two pinpoint crosses that resulted in vital goals. The game was subsequently dubbed ‘The Matthews Final’.
Stoke 3-1 Fulham (First Division, February 6, 1965)
At the astonishing age of 50, Matthews fittingly ended his extraordinary English career with his hometown club at the Victoria Ground. It was an astonishing 32 years since he’d first appeared for the Stoke first team. The team managed to give their favourite son an appropriate send-off as they beat Fulham 3-1 in this First Division fixture.
|Stoke||Second Division Championship||1933|
|Second Division Champonship||1963|
Did You Know...?
Matthews was voted the first ever European Footballer Of The Year in 1956.
Sir Stanley was a vegetarian teetotaler, which may well explain how he remained fit enough to play top-level football until the age of 50.
In more than 700 league games, Matthews was never once booked.
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