Bill Irwin (footballer)

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Bill Irwin
Personal information
Full name William Irwin
Date of birth (1951-07-23) 23 July 1951 (age 65)
Place of birth Newtownards, Northern Ireland
Height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Playing position Goalkeeper
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1967–1971 Bangor ? (?)
1971–1978 Cardiff City 180 (0)
1978–1980 Washington Diplomats 73 (0)
1981 Dallas Tornado 28 (0)
1982 Portland Timbers 25 (0)
1982–1983 Golden Bay Earthquakes (indoor) 27 (0)
1983–1984 Golden Bay Earthquakes 50 (0)
1985–1986 Minnesota Strikers (indoor) 14 (0)
1986–1987 Wichita Wings (indoor)
National team
1971 Northern Ireland amateur 2 (0)
Teams managed
1987–2003 University of Portland (assistant)
2003–15 University of Portland
2007– US women's U23
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

William "Bill" Irwin (born 23 July 1951, in Newtownards) is a Northern Irish former professional footballer, currently working as director of soccer at the University of Portland and head coach of the United States women's under-23 side.

Personal life[edit]

Irwin and his wife, Liz, live in Portland with their two sons Bryan, who played for the Portland university team, and Nicholas.

Playing career[edit]

An Irish amateur international, Irwin began his career at Bangor where he was managed by Charlie Tully. During his spell at the club, he helped win the clubs first honours when they won the County Antrim Shield and the City Cup in successive seasons. Prior to his death Tully had recommended Irwin to his former club Celtic but the move never materialised and he eventually joined Welsh side Cardiff City in 1971.[1]

Brought in to replace Frank Parsons, Irwin was thrown straight into the Cardiff side and performed admirably, including winning the 1971–1972 BBC save of the season award for a spectacular save during a 2–0 defeat in the FA Cup against Leeds United in February 1972.[2] He also became the first Cardiff goalkeeper to be sent off during a match after receiving his marching orders against Bangor City during the 1972–73 Welsh Cup final. Irwin held the position of first choice goalkeeper for four seasons, beating off competition from Parsons and Jim Eadie, until the arrival of Ron Healey in 1974 saw him lose his place. He eventually left the club in 1978 and went to play for the Washington Diplomats in the NASL.

He went on to play at various teams in the NASL before finishing his career with two years playing indoor football in the Major Indoor Soccer League.

Coaching career[edit]

After his retirement Irwin took up an assistant manager role at the University of Portland alongside former Cardiff teammate Clive Charles. During his time at the University he has an impressive record of training goalkeepers. The five starting goalkeepers who have trained under Irwin, Greg Maas, Kasey Keller, Stuart Dobson, Scott Hileman, Curtis Spiteri and most recently Luis Robles, have all gone on to play professional football. Following the sudden death of Charles in 2003 Irwin was promoted to headcoach after serving as his assistant for sixteen years.[3]

Irwin has been involved with goalkeeper coaching throughout the US women's teams and various youth levels of the men's team and in 2007 he was appointed as head coach of the US under-23 women's team, winning the Nordic Cup in his first year.[4]



Cardiff City
1972–73, 1973–74, 1975–76
1971–72, 1974–75


United States women's under-23
  • Nordic Cup Winner: 1


  • Hayes, Dean (2006). The Who's Who of Cardiff City. Breedon Books. ISBN 1-85983-462-0. 
  1. ^ "Bill Irwin". NI footballing greats. 19 January 2009. Retrieved 15 September 2009. 
  2. ^ "Best Ninian Park 11:goalkeepers". 9 April 2009. Retrieved 15 September 2009. 
  3. ^ "Bill Irwin". Retrieved 11 March 2008. 
  4. ^ "Bill Irwin". Retrieved 15 September 2009.