Full back 60-67
6ft 0" 13st 3lbs
b.Cork, Ireland, 28th Feb 1932
d. 8th September 2005  
Debut v Cardiff City (a) 26/11/60

Noel Cantwell - Obituary

Irish footballer who was one of the best full backs of his generation
Brian Glanville
The Guardian

Noel Cantwell, who has died aged 73, was one of the best full backs of his
generation, with West Ham United, with Manchester United and with the Irish
international team. He guided Manchester United to the FA Cup in 1963, and
was a double international, representing his country at both football and
cricket. Tall, handsome and well built, ever fluent and humorous, Cantwell
was born in Cork and emerged with the local team, Cork Athletic. In the
second half of the 1952-53 season he went to east London to join West Ham
United, making three League appearances, but the following season saw him
gain a regular place, making 22 appearances. That season also saw him win
the first of his 36 international caps for the Republic of Ireland.

Cantwell was a committed and intelligent thinker about the game making West
Ham his ideal club. There with him, at that time, were the likes of Malcolm
Allison, later an outstanding coach with Manchester City and Crystal
Palace, then a centre-half, and Phil Woosnam, a Welsh international
inside-forward with a BSc degree, a background in school teaching, and
subsequently a leading role in the development of professional football in
the US. These three were mentors of the young Bobby Moore.
Essentially a left-back, though versatile enough in the years after he had
moved, in season 1960-61, to represent Ireland at centre-forward, Cantwell
was a strong header of the ball, an excellent positional player and, those
were the days before the four-man defence and the overlapping full back,
always eager to move upfield and have a crack at goal. He scored 16 League
goals for West Ham, and another 19 for Manchester United.

At corners, he never liked to stay on the post, but, given his heading,
preferred to be able to attack the corner kick as it came in. This led to a
somewhat amusing episode, when playing for Manchester United. Informing the
manager, Matt Busby, of his preference, he was told that someone must stand
on the line and the lot fell to a young Ulsterman. who, in his confusion,
took up position, in the next game, right in front of a full back who was
already standing on the post! "He'll never be a great player," said Noel.
For West Ham, between 1953 and 1960, he made 245 League appearances, 33 of
them when the club were promoted from the Second Division in season 1957-58
when he got four League goals. He had a notable partnership with right-back
John Bond. With Manchester United, he had 121 League appearances and was at
left-back when they beat Leicester City 3-1, in the FA Cup Final of 1963.
Winning his first Irish cap in 1953, he ultimately got the last of the 35
in season 1966-67, scoring 14 goals.

Retiring from the game in 1967, when he seemed able to continue to play
successfully at the top level, Cantwell became manager of Coventry City, a
club which at that time clung uneasily to its First Division status.
Indeed, in the first of his five seasons there, Cantwell saved them from
relegation by a single point, but in 1969, the team emerged as one of the
more promising in the First Division. In 1972, he became manager of
Peterborough United, where he stayed for five years winning the
Championship of the Fourth Division and promotion in season 1972-73. He had
a second managerial spell at Peterborough between 1986 and 1988, after
which he continued for a time as the club's general manager, making his
home in the city. There, in 1991, he opened a pub. To his delight, he was
enlisted by England's Swedish manager Sven-Goran Eriksson to go scouting
for him, reporting on potential England players. An accomplished all-round
sportsman, he played seven times for Ireland's cricket team and, after
Essex representatives watched him making 47 runs against the New
Zealanders, was asked to join that county. Cantwell turned this down,
saying that he didn't want to spend his whole year in England!

During a five-year spell in the US, with the Boston and Jacksonville
professional teams. he won the Eastern Division Championship of the North
American Soccer League in 1978 with the New England Teamen. His family life
was cruelly blighted when his 22-year-old son, one of his three children
was killed in a car crash. · Noel Cantwell, footballer, born December 28
1932; died September 8 2005