Stoke City: Sir Stanley Matthews Would Be Proud

illya mclellanSenior Analyst IJune 25, 2008

All the recent furore over the comings and goings of Cristiano Ronaldo and his wickedly fast feet reminded me of another great dribbling exponent who is no longer with us, but whose memory serves as a testament to the game and the way people love to see it played.

Sir Stanley Matthews, undoubtedly one of the greats of the game, was thrilling crowds in much the same way Ronaldo does today 70 years ago, but that is where the comparison ends.

Reading up on the great man, I discovered that in 1938 he asked for a transfer from Stoke City, but after a public outcry—including placard bearing protesters outside the ground—he relented and stayed on at the club.

It was a testament to his responsibility to the fans, something that seems to be sadly lacking in the players of today.

Capped 54 times by England he ravaged the back-lines of the world's best sides on his way to some truly outstanding performances and also being the first ever European Footballer of the Year.

Thinking on this, I wondered to myself—what would he have been like using modern equipment? Light as a feather boots and balls, perfectly manicured pitches? Surely he would have been a modern day phenomenon. Comparisons of such things always prove irksome though, so I will not carry on.

With Stoke City taking on the big guns of the Premiership this season I think the old boy would be a happy man seeing his first club back up amongst the high fliers. Interestingly enough, he will be right there, as his ashes are buried under the centre circle of Brittania Stadium.

Hopefully for Stoke, the spirit of Sir Stanley will be with them as they take on the seemingly impossible task of a promoted club in the EPL. Here's to Sir Stanley Matthews—may he rest in peace and may fortune smile on his former club. Good luck Stoke City.