Irish Footballer that Played for Man Utd - Jackie Blanchflower
Jackie Blanchflower - Introduction
Jackie Blanchflower was born on 7 March 1933 in Belfast in Northern Ireland. He was the younger brother of the great Danny. Blanchflower was a fantastic talent whose burgeoning career was cut short due to serious injuries caused by the Munich air disaster in 1958. In May 1949 Blanchflower signed for Manchester United as a sixteen year old under legendary Reds manager Matt Busby.
Jackie Blanchflower & Manchester United
The Belfast boy graduated through the youth academy at Old Trafford having won a succession of FA Youth Cups. While still a teenager Jackie Blanchardstown made his debut for Manchester United on 24 November 1951 at Anfield against Liverpool FC. The teams played out a 0-0 draw. It would be almost two years before Blanchflower would appear again in the red of the United first team.
Jackie Blanchflower was not only a very talented footballer he was also extremely versatile. He began his United career playing up front as an inside forward but Matt Busby decided that the younger Blanchflower was better suited to central defence. Nevertheless he notched up 27 goals in 117 appearances. Blanchflower scored his first goal for Manchester United on 7 November 1953 in a 2-2 draw with Arsenal at Old Trafford. He scored the last of his 27 goals at Villa Park in a 4-4 draw with Aston Vila on 15 October 1955.
Jackie Blanchflower demonstrated his great versatility in the 1957 FA Cup Final when he replaced the injured United goalkeeper, Ray Wood, in goals. It was the time when there were no substitutes allowed and Wood had broken his cheek bone after just eight minutes of the final. His heroics in goal went unrewarded as Aston Villa won the final 2-1 thus depriving United of the double.
Blanchflower Injured in Munich Air Crash
On that fateful night on 6 February 1958 at Riem airport in Munich, the plane carrying the Manchester United team home after a European Cup tie in Belgrade crashed and burst into flames. Twenty-three passengers lost their lives in the tragedy but in addition to this terrible loss others were badly injured. Amongst those injured was Jackie Blanchflower who suffered horrendous damage including a broken pelvis, crushed kidneys, a severed arm, and many other fractures. Amazingly Blanchflower recovered from his injuries and made an attempt to return to football. Too much damage had been done though and Jackie Blanchflower had to retire from football in June 1959 at the age of just 24. His last appearance for Manchester United was on 30 November 1957 at Old Trafford in a 3-4 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.
Jackie Blanchflower - Northern Ireland Career
Jackie Blanchflower made his international debut for Northern Ireland on 21 March 1954 away to Wales. It was a World Cup qualifier and Northern Ireland won 2-1. Blanchflower went on to play for his country 12 times and scoring one goal. This came on 8 October 1955 in a 2-1 home win over Scotland, the last match in which he played up front for Northern Ireland.
Blanchflower's last match for Northern Ireland on 15 January 1958 at Windsor Park. A 2-1 win over Italy contributed significantly to Northern Ireland's qualification for the 1958 finals in Sweden.
Sadly Blanchflower's injuries from Munich deprived him of the opportunity to display his great football talents to the wider World.
Jackie Blanchflower - Manchester United & Northern Ireland Statistics
|Manchester United History - Irish Man Utd Players|
Trevor Anderson - Harry Baird - Billy Behan - George Best - Jackie Blanchflower - Robbie Brady
|Liverpool History - Liverpool Irish Players - Liverpool Supporters Clubs |
Glasgow Celtic History - Celtic's Irish Players
|Liam Brady - Damien Duff - Eamon Dunphy - Robbie Keane - Niall Quinn|