Posted by: crustynomad | March 12, 2009

Giggs, Shilton, Matthews, Jack and Meredith – Five players linked across 116 years of football.

In a quick scan of some old football statistics I noted that a few great players had faced each other at the opposite ends of their lengthy careers. This set me thinking about how far back you go with a minimum number of individuals. Of the current set of Premier League players Ryan Giggs is one of the more celebrated and is approaching 18 years at the very top of the game. Mental recollection told me that Peter Shilton would’ve appeared in one Giggs early matches and as he had made his debut in the 60s I knew Sir Stanley Matthews would have come into the equation too.

Using these three names to kick-off I started my research…

Now, Ryan Giggs made his debut for Manchester United in 1991. In his first season he played against Derby County who had Peter Shilton playing in goal for them. Shilton made his debut for Leicester City as a 16 year old in May 1966 but he had been with the club as a youth since 1963. This means he was on the books when Sir Stanley Matthews played his last game in February 1965.

Matthews made his debut for Stoke City back in 1932 just as David Jack’s career at Arsenal was coming to a close. Jack was the first player ever to score at Wembley and was the first footballer in the world to be transferred for more than £10,000. As he made his debut for Plymouth Argyle in 1919 he almost certainly would’ve faced striker Billy Meredith who played his last match in 1924. This was with Manchester City against Newcastle United in an FA Cup semi-final tie while at the age of 49 years and 245 days.

To bring the story full circle we should note that Meredith was born on 30 July 1874 just four months short of 100 years before the birth of Ryan Giggs (29 November 1973). Curiously they were both Welsh and both played for Manchester United with Meredith also playing for the blue half of the town. In fact, in Billy’s second game for Manchester City he was up against Newton Heath in what was the first Manchester derby. Newton Heath, of course, were later to be better known as Manchester United.

Giggs, Shilton, Matthews, Jack and Meredith played a total of 4143 games scoring 677 goals. These include 300 games and 37 goals at international level too. Between them they won a total of 16 League titles, 10 FA Cups, 4 League Cups and 4 European Cups. In addition there was a further 11 Charity Shields, 2 European Super Cups, a second division title and a World Club Championship. Wow! Just…wow!

Five legendary players linked across 116 years of fabulous football.


All total career stats include club and international games and goals.


League Championships: 10
FA Cup: 4
League Cup: 3
European Cups: 2
World Club Cup: 1
European Super Cups: 1
Charity Shields: 7
Games: 792  Goals:  148
International Caps: 64 (12) – Wales


League Championships: 1
League Cup: 1
European Cups: 2
European Super Cups: 1
Charity Shields: 2
Games: 1237  Goals:  1
International Caps: 125 (0) – England


FA Cup: 1
2nd Division Championship: 1
Games: 795  Goals:  81
International Caps: 54 (11) – England


League Championships: 3
FA Cups: 3
Games: 533  Goals:  260
International Caps: 9 (3) – England


League Championships: 2
FA Cup: 2
Charity Shields: 2
Games: 788  Goals:  187
International Caps: 48 (11) – Wales


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