Sir Stan takes on his opponent
Sir Stanley Matthews
Stoke City's favourite son, Sir Stanley Matthews, graced the football field with his silky skills for over 30 years. We look back over his career with photos, expert comment and your memories.
Sir Stanley Matthews - the first professional footballer to be knighted - was the most renowned player of modern times.
As an outside-right he was without compare.
His passing was extraordinarily accurate, and he was not so much a scorer as a creator of goals for others. Moreover, his sportsmanship was exemplary, and he was often referred to as "the first gentleman of soccer".
It was said Matthews' presence in a team could add 10,000 to away gates.
'Wizard of dribble'
Known as the 'Wizard of Dribble', Stanley Matthews was born February 1st, 1915 at Seymour Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.
In 1932 he became a full-time professional, and two years later played for England in a full international for the first time.
In 1947, after war service in the RAF, he left Stoke City, and joined Blackpool Football Club, with which he stayed for 14 years.
"The Matthews Cup Final"
It was during this period that he achieved his greatest triumph in what became known as "the Matthews Cup Final" of 1953, paving the way for Blackpool's last-minute victory against Bolton Wanderers.
In 1956, the first-ever European Footballer of the Year award ceremony was held, and, almost inevitably, it was Mathews who received the tribute.
Clean slate (he was never booked) Matthews rejoined Stoke City in 1961, when they were near the bottom of the second division.
The player was knighted in 1965, and played his last game in the same year, five days after his 50th birthday.
It's astonishing to think that the man only won one major medal, that of an FA Cup winner. However many Stoke City fans believe that their team would have won the First Division title in 1947, had not the club decided to sell him to Blackpool with just a few games remaining in the season.
After giving up playing, Sir Stan took on the thankless task of reviving Port Vale's fortunes as their manager (he was a Vale fan from his youth, ironically); but turned away from management after that unsuccessful stint to become better known as a coach, particularly in Malta and South Africa.
He never lost sight of his home town though, and in his last years returned to Stoke to live in the Penkhull district.
Following the death of his beloved wife, Sir Stan became more and more frail, and died in February 2000.
BBC Radio Stoke was present at Sir Stan's funeral in 2000. To remember the day, we have searched the archive and found the two documentaries made about the day. To hear both the programmes, click on the links on the top-right hand side of this page. (You will need Real Player installed to hear it.)
For more articles and photos about Sir Stan and his legacy in the city, see the links in the top right-hand corner of this page.
What do you think about Sir Stan?
If you saw the great man in action, or met him in later life, or have a handed-down memory - let us know on the comments board, below.
last updated: 04/01/2010 at 08:34
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