Goal.com's Top 50 English Players: Jackie Milburn (43)

Goal.com are counting down England's greatest players of all time and at number 43 is Newcastle United legend Jackie Milburn...
No.50 - John Terry
No.49 - Tony Currie
No.48 - Terry Butcher
No.47 - Gerry Hitchens
No.46 - Paul Ince
No.45 - George Camsell
No.44 - Wayne Rooney



Ashington, Northumberland (Died 9/10/88, Ashington, Northumberland)


 13 caps, 10 goals


Newcastle United, Linfield

Innocuous anecdotes regarding one-club-city Newcastle occur, at times, in conversation amongst southerners about the sheer extent of the religious following Tynesiders provide their United outfit. Terms such as “second-coming”, and “messiah” are oft-bandied about for a returning idol. Alan Shearer has been the most recent recipient, so too has Kevin Keegan witnessed such acclaim. Jackie Milburn - born 1924, died 1988, aged 64 -  may not be a name familiar to most outside of England, but there are few players whom Newcastle, and indeed the north-east as a whole, hold in higher esteem.

The late Milburn was a striker as talented as he was modest, and indeed – as claimed by his own son in Jackie Milburn: A Game of Two Halves – insecure. Despite scoring 238 goals from 492 appearances in all competitions, excluding six in one half during his debut game as a trialist, the reminiscent forward – who was granted a testimonial a decade after his retirement – feared that few would turn up to witness his curtain-closer. He is reported to have said, “I was worried to death that no-one would turn up. Ten years is a long time. People forget.”


Milburn & Winston Churchill
Little did he know that 45,404 were to bellow his praises for his belated bow while he jogged out alongside World Cup winning brothers Bobby Charlton and Jack Charlton, together with the famed Hungarian forward Ferenc Puskas. Bobby Charlton, an England icon and Manchester United ambassador, is reported to have said about Milburn, “He used to remind me of a wave breaking. He would just surge past defenders with his incredible pace. Everybody loved watching him.”

It is testament to his ability that the three-time FA Cup winner has two statues paying homage to him; one in Newcastle - where he made his name - and the other in his home town; Ashington.

‘Wor’ Jackie, as he was affectionately known due to a Geordie dialect where ‘Wor’ can be translated as ‘Our’, signed for Newcastle United for a £10 registration fee after replying to an advert in the local newspaper. Stan Seymour, himself an FA Cup winner with the club in 1924, was allegedly convinced that the Magpies had snapped up a star upon his arrival. Seymour proved a sound judge of skill, as Milburn’s prolific nature became immediately apparent when he scored on his debut, with his first kick of the ball.

Milburn was a versatile forward. His ability as an inside-forward, a spearheading centre-forward, together with his effectiveness on the flank, were all acknowledged by the coaching staff at the St. James’ Park outfit, although he was always deemed most dangerous utilising the former role.


"A true legend. Once scored 5 in one game for England. Should have had more caps." - Eddie | London
Add Your Comment Below!
He was largely accountable for United’s rise to the top tier in English football, and following on from the club’s promotion, there were a handful – at best – of defences who could contain his relentlessness. Not only was he a consistent 1:2 striker, but his creative nature has also been hailed. He could track back, break up play, burst forward and be a general nuisance to the opposition’s rear-guard. He was a net-bulging terror who did a lot of his best work inside the box. His electric pace proved hard to contain and, being a former professional sprinter, it was an option that was often employed. Milburn could run 200 yards in a near Olympic-speed, allegedly recording an eyebrow-exercising 19.7 seconds.

Milburn won back-to-back FA Cups in 1951 and 1952, before adding a third to his personal cabinet in 1955. He broke the then-record of the fastest FA Cup final goal by clocking in at 45 seconds, in front of a watching Winston Churchill, against an Arsenal side that commanded respect due to their unrivalled dominant years during the '30s.
His most memorable work occurred in the first of his finals, against Blackpool in ’51 - when he bagged a deuce, – both of which were impeccably executed. After the triumph, a euphoric Milburn was to jump head-first, bearing full clobber and cleats, into the dressing room baths by way of celebration.

During his pomp, the prestigious continental competition – the European Cup – was yet to be formed, but he managed to feature during his twilight years, and score, while representing Northern Irish club Linfield.

As a way of paying respect to their legend, Newcastle United named the West Stand at St. James’ Park after him, and he was one of the first iconic 'number nines' that the club continue to worship.


FA Cup (1951, 1952, 1955)

DID YOU KNOW... that while Milburn was at Newcastle United, he and his team-mates were awarded cigarettes as a club bonus. He was  later to die of lung cancer.

Alan Dawson, Goal.com

Goal.com invites the readers to leave their comments about Jackie Milburn below. The best one submitted within 24 hours - whether funny, informative or just purely passionate - will be added to the article. Keep them clean, fairly short and start writing now for your chance to be a part of the series!