Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Sir Stanley Matthews (February 1 1915 - February 23 2000) was a football player of genius and one of the greats of the English game. His nickname in England was The Wizard of the Dribble and on the continent he gained the name of The Magician.
Matthews was born in Seymour Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent and was the third of four sons. His father, Jack Matthews, was a renowned local boxer who fostered a sense of discipline, determination and sportsmanship that would serve his son well during his long career. He attended St Lukes School.
A natural right-winger, he showed early promise and played for England schoolboys against Wales. He signed professional terms with Stoke City F.C. in 1932. His international debut came in 1934, scoring in the England side which beat Wales 4-0. In 1937 he scored a hat-trick in a game against Czechoslovakia.
The war interrupted his career, during which time he served in the RAF and was stationed near Blackpool. After falling out with Stoke, he transferred to join Blackpool F.C. with whom he won an FA Cup winners medal in 1953 - a match dubbed the 'Matthews Final' in recognition of his pivotal role.
He played his final England game in 1957; he remains the oldest player to have played in an England shirt. He played in 54 England games in total, not including the 29 wartime games in which he appeared. His England career is the longest of any player ever to play for the side, stretching from his debut on September 29 1934 to his last appearance on May 15 1957, almost 23 years later.
In 1961 (aged 46) he rejoined his hometown club Stoke City where he remained until the end of his playing career, hanging up his boots just after his 50th birthday. In 1965 his services to sport were officially recognised when he became the first football player to be knighted.
He then went on to manage several clubs.
During his illustrious career he gained respect, not only as a great player, but also as a gentleman. This is exemplified by the fact that despite playing in over seven hundred league games, he was never booked.
There is a statue of Matthews outside Stoke City's Britannia Stadium and another in the centre of Hanley. The dedication on the former reads: His name is symbolic of the beauty of the game, his fame timeless and international, his sportsmanship and modesty universally acclaimed. A magical player, of the people, for the people.
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