One of the greatest footballers England has ever produced, and arguably the greatest. In 1948, at 33, Matthews was remarkably only approaching the midway point of his career.
Matthews began his incredible career at Stoke City, making his debut as a 17 year-old and was an England international at 19. Between 1933 and 1957 Matthews represented England 54 times despite losing six of his peak years as a 24 to 30 year-old to the Second World War.
Upon the resumption of his career post-war Matthews transferred from Stoke City to Blackpool. He represented the Seasiders more than 400 times over the course of 15 seasons, with his most famous game the victorious 1953 FA Cup final, one that has since been christened the ‘Matthews Final.’
This was to be Matthews’ only top flight honour in the game, although he did win two Second Division titles with Stoke 30 years apart in 1933 and 1963.
The latter of which saw Matthews impress to such an extent that despite playing in the second tier and aged 48 he was named Footballer of the Year for the second time.
Matthews’ reputation in the world game was as high as it was in England and in 1956 he was voted the first winner of the prestigious Ballon d’Or.
Sir Stanley Matthews, The Wizard of the Dribble, professional footballer from the age of 17 to 50, a truly remarkable man and deserved recipient of the inaugural trophy.
What Stan said:
“Winning the Footballer of the Year award for the second time at the age of 48 was a big moment for me, but could not match my first win in 1948.
“To be the first winner was marvellous and still to be around and invited to the 1997 dinner as guest of honour to mark the 50th anniversary underlines what I mean about the significance of that award to me.
“When I look back over my career, those two Footballer of the Year awards mean so much to me. They represent what I achieved over a long period, and I am very, very proud of them.”