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Sunday, 17 February, 2002, 21:38 GMT
Sir Walter: A life in football
Sir Walter Winterbottom in his days as England manager
Sir Walter took England to four World Cups
Sir Walter Winterbottom, England's first national team manager and one of the world's best football coaches, has died aged 89.

Sir Walter Winterbottom was the first ever manager of the English national team, combining the job with the role of director of coaching.

Born in Oldham on 31 January, 1913, he began his career with Cheshire League side Mossley before being spotted by Manchester United.

Unfortunately for Sir Walter, he made just 27 appearances for the Old Trafford club at half-back before a spine disease forced him to quit during the 1937/38 season.

Sir Walter Winterbottom instructs his England squad
Sir Walter was regarded as one of world's best coaches
Even before his playing days were brought to a premature end, Sir Walter had begun to combine football with a second career.

"Before the First World War there was no floodlit football and league matches were generally played on Saturdays," he recalled.

"So while playing for United, I was able to be a schoolmaster, then a student at Carnegie Physical Education College, where subsequently I was appointed lecturer."

His skills were soon noted by the Football Association, who invited him to become a member of staff at their summer school.

After the Second World War, during which he served as an RAF wing commander, Sir Walter became the FA's director of coaching.

It was a post he held from 1946 to 1962 in tandem with his role as manager of England's amateur and professional sides.

Although he did not select the team, which was chosen by a committee, Sir Walter was responsible for setting up England's youth and under-23 teams.

  Winterbottom's England
Games: 139
Won: 79
Drew: 32
Lost: 28

He also established a national coaching scheme to nurture young players from the schools and county football associations.

His senior England team of the 1940s included several world-class players, notably Frank Swift, Stanley Matthews, Tommy Lawton, Wilf Mannion and Tom Finney.

So it is no surprise that Sir Walter's time with the senior team produced impressive statistics.

In his 16 years in charge, England won 79 matches, drew 32 and lost 28.

But although England qualified for four World Cups, when that achievement was considered to be little more than a formality, they reached no further than the quarter-finals on each occasion.

And his reign also included the shock 1-0 defeat by the United States at the 1950 World Cup, as well as the famous 6-3 thrashing by Hungary in 1953 at Wembley.

Sir Walter left the FA to become secretary of the Central Council for Physical Recreation from 1963 until 1972.

In 1965, he was also appointed as the first director general of the Sports Council.

Sir Walter Winterbottom presenting caps at the Football Academy's graduation day
Sir Walter won 79 of his 139 games in charge of England
In his 13 years there, he established coaching structures and support systems which laid the foundations for his successors.

Sir Walter, who was married with three children, was awarded an OBE in 1963, a CBE in 1972 and was knighted in 1978.

He was rated as one of the world's best football coaches, but his critics said he lacked the ruthlessness needed to be a successful international manager.

It was accepted that in his dual role at the FA he had a near-impossible task.

Therefore, it came as no surprise when the jobs were separated on his departure.

But Sir Walter was always receptive to new ideas and it was his exceptional organisational skills that constructed a framework which was to help bring the World Cup to England in 1966.

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