Tuesday, May 15, 2012

15 May 1957 - Stanley Matthews' International Farewell

On 15 May 1957, Stanley Matthews made his last appearance for England, setting two national team records in the process.

The occasion was a World Cup qualifier against Denmark in Copenhagen. When Matthews stepped onto the pitch, he was 42 years, 103 days old, making him the oldest player in national team history. It was the 54th national team appearance for the outside right, bookending a career that reached all the way back to 29 September 1934, when he made his debut in a win against Wales. He would have had many more caps but for the intervention of World War II, which put a halt on international football for a seven-year period from 1940 through 1946. Still, his tenure of 22 years, 228 days remains the longest term of service for any England player.

England proceeded to beat the Danes 1-4, virtually securing their World Cup berth with one qualifier remaining. But Matthews, despite having featured in each of the preceding qualifiers for the tournament, was not called up for the final one and retired from international football soon afterward.

He continued to play at the club level, however, finally putting his boots away in 1965 at the age of 50.

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