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|Name||Sir Stanley Matthews (Midfielder)|
|Born On||1st February, 1915|
|Played For||Clubs: Stoke City, Blackpool|
|Team||England National Football Team|
|World Cup Played||Played 1950 World Cup|
|Played 1954 World Cup|
“The First Gentleman of Soccer”, Sir Stanley Matthews has been a national icon as he has earned fame for himself and pride for his country. An outside right forward player, he was one of the greatest dribblers in the history of football and one of the greatest players from England. He was the first from the Britain to be knighted and also the only footballer to be knighted while still active in the game.
Stanley Matthews was born on February 1, 1915 in Hanley town (Stoke-on-Trent) of Staffordshire county, England. He was the third son of his parents and his father was a local boxer named Jack Matthews who was popularly known as Fighting Barber of Hanley’s. Matthews joined Hanley’s Wellington Road School where he was a perfect learner. At an early age he was very fond of playing football and especially keen on his dribbling skills in school with children and countless hours in the backyard of his house.
When he reached the age of thirteen, he has decided to become a footballer but his father wanted him to become a professional boxer and follow his footsteps. His father started training him boxing and once he was taking a rigorous training session under his father, he started vomiting. At that time his mother stood firm and convinced his father that their son should follow his own passion and become a footballer. His father recommended him to join England Schoolboy club and he received his first call-up in 1929 in a dramatic way in front of around 20,000 people at Dean Court, Bournemouth. His father died in 1945 and he made a promise on his deathbed that he would win an FA Cup final and look after his mother Elizabeth.
In 1932, he became a professional footballer and two years later played for his country for the first time in an international competition. After completing war service in the RAF in 1947, he left Stoke city and switched to Blackpool Football Club where he played for the next 14 years. Matthews then rejoined its home town Stoke City in 1961 and ended his international career as a football player in 1965. He then went on to coach and manage Stoke’s rival club Port Vale and stepped down as manager in 1968. He toured and coached several clubs across the world and returned back to Stroke-on-Trent with his wife in 1989. While on a holiday with wife Mila in Tenerife, he fall ill and died on 23rd February 2000. Pel said “Stanley was the man who taught us the way football should be played”.
SCORE BOARD :
Sir Stanley Matthews was more popular with the nicknames such as “The Magician” and “The Wizard of the Dribble” as he has gained proficiency in dribbling skills and quickness in passing the ball. Under Stoke City Football League Second Division, he played two seasons 1932-33 and 1962-32 and emerged victorious in both. While playing under the Blackpool football club, he won the FA Cup in 1953 which is also known as “Matthews final” but his team was on the losing side (runners-up) in 1948 and 1951 finals. He won a total of 54 caps for England in between in 1937-1957. He also participated in the World Football Cup twice in 1950 and in 1954. The interesting trait of his personality is that he was fit enough to play at the highest level at the age of 50. He was also the oldest player to play for England’s top football division and also the oldest player to represent his country.
In his long-term football career he has achieved immense appreciation. He is the winner of nine British Home Championships titles in his career. He was declared FWA Footballer of the Year twice in 1948 and 1963, European Footballer of the Year 1956, Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) 1957, Knight Bachelor 1965 and inducted in inaugural English Football Hall of Fame in 2002. He was also voted as the eleventh greatest player of the 20th century by IFFHS.
EXTRA TIME :
Matthews married Betty Vallance in 1934 who was the daughter of Stoke City trainer Jimmy Vallance. Matthews had two children from her namely Jean and Stanley Jr. who went on to become a professional tennis player. While managing Port Vale in 1967, he met 40-year old Mila on a tour of Czechoslovakia. She was the group interpreter of the trip, while Matthews was still married, he was convinced that he had found his true love of his life in Mila. He divorced Betty and married Mila with whom he spent his remaining life. A statue of him is installed outside Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium and another one in Hanley. He also dedicated an autobiography written on him named The Way It Was in the memory of his wife Mila. His friend Les Scott helped him in writing this autobiography.
TIE BREAKER :
Sir Stanley Matthews will remain an ideal source of inspiration for millions of his fans who often call him A magical player, of the people, for the people.