Irishman captained Man Utd and won La Liga with Real Betis
15 January ~ Patrick O’Connell became the first £1,000 player when he moved to Manchester United in 1915, and was also the first Irishman to play for the club. He went on to captain both them and Ireland, the latter during a British Home Championship win over England in 1914. O’Connell started his managerial career at Ashington before going on to win the 1935 La Liga title with Real Betis – their only championship to date. Later he saved FC Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War by organising a tour of Mexico that raised enough money to keep the club alive.
Despite his successful career, O’Connell died destitute in London in 1959 and is buried in an unmarked grave.Now a fund has been set up to build a memorial fitting to O’Connell in Kilburn, his place of burial. For more information on his career, the fund and details of an event at Hillsborough (O’Connell also played for Sheffield Wednesday) click here.