Sir Stanley Matthews was born in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, and Staffordshire being the third out of four sons of Jack Matthews (local boxer known as “Fighting Barber of Hanley”. At the age of fifteen and with the help of Tom Mather (who convinced his father) he joined Stoke City staff working as an office boy for 1 pound a week.
He was regarded as one of the greatest players of the English game, he is the first and only player to have been knighted while still playing, as well as being the first winner of both the European Footballer of the Year and the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year awards. Matthews' nicknames included "The Wizard of the Dribble" and "The Magician". A true legend, not just of English football but for the whole soccer world.
Matthews was also an inaugural inductee to the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002 to honor his contribution to the English game.
Franz Beckenbauer said “almost no one in the game could stop him".
John Charles noted that "he was the best crosser I've ever seen – and he had to contend with the old heavy ball".
Johnny Giles said that "he had everything – good close control, great dribbling ability and he was lightning quick. He was also an intelligent player, who knew how to pass the ball".
He spent 19 years from 1932 to 1947 in Stoke City, playing for the "Potters", and then again from 1961 till 1965. He helped his team to the Second Division title back in 1932-1933 and 1962-1963. In between his two spells at Stoke he spent fourteen years with Blackpoll, where he became an FA Cup winner in 1953 (known as the Matthews Final), after he was on the losing side in the 1948 and 1951 finals. Between 1937 and 1957 he won 54 caps for England, playing in the FIFA World Cup in 1950 and 1954, and winning nine British Home Championship titles.
Before 1937-1938 he had scored 38 goals in four seasons, and full-backs began to mark him more tightly; because of this he decided to drop deeper to collect the ball and aim to play pinpoint crosses as opposed to going for glory himself. Though he would never again score more than six goals in a season, this made him more an effective team player and a greater threat to the opposition.
He was never booked or sent off throughout his entire career, and teammate Jimmy Armfield noted that Matthews would never retaliate to the many extremely physical challenges opponents would often make to try and take him out of the game. Indeed he ran the full gauntlet of emotions that all footballers run, but always retained a level-head on the pitch, never losing his temper or allowing his emotions to affect his game.
He retired in 1965, and played his last game in the same year, five days after his 50th birthday. His final appearance in a football match was in a testimonial in 1981 age 66. Sir Stan passed away in February 2000, just 3 weeks after turning 85.
“I grew up in an era where he was a god to those of us that aspired to play the game. He was a true gentleman and we shall never see his like again” Brian Clough
795 games for Stoke City and Blackpool, scoring 81 goals
54 games for England, scoring 11 goals
Never booked or sent off
Missed 6 seasons due to the Second World War
Great players from all over Europe including Lev Yashin, Alfredo di Stefano and Karl-Heinz Schnellinger came to Stoke to take part in his testimonial match on April 28, 1965.
It's astonishing to think that the man only won one major medal, in that famous 1953 FA Cup final.
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.
Watch 1953 FA Cup Final Blackpool v Bolton W The Matthews Final