James Lang (footballer)

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James J. "Reddie" Lang (born March 1851[1]) was a Scottish footballer who is generally considered to be the first professional player.[by whom?]

Football career[edit]

Jimmy Lang's playing career started with Glasgow Eastern, from where he moved to Clydesdale and then Third Lanark.[1] While with Clydesdale he played in the first ever Scottish Cup final. He also became involved with the Glasgow vs. Sheffield association matches and at the 1876 meeting he caught the attention of The Wednesday board. They subsequently invited him to play for their team. He was not paid by the club but instead gained employment with a company in Garden Street owned by one of the directors, Walter Fearnehough. Although the family business manufactured "Bayonet Spirals, Ledger Blades and Chaff Knives" Lang received no formal duties and he spent most of the day reading the paper.

Lang returned to Third Lanark in 1877 and played in their 1878 Scottish Cup final defeat but joined Wednesday for a second time in 1879. Remarkably, he prospered in Sheffield despite only having vision in one eye, having lost the use of the other in a shipyard accident in Clydebank.[1][2] When Lang part company with Wednesday in 1886 it was, ironically, due to the rise of professionalism. At that time Sheffield Wednesday were still an "amateur" club and he moved across the Pennines to the openly professional Burnley. He won two international caps for Scotland, the first on 25 March 1876 in a 4-0 win over Wales (the first international between the two countries) and the second in 1878, scoring two goals.


  1. ^ a b c Lamming, Douglas (1987). A Scottish Soccer Internationalists Who’s Who, 1872-1986 (Hardback). Hutton Press. (ISBN 0-907033-47-4). 
  2. ^ "Interesting and curious facts about full internationals and national players (1872-1900)". IFFHS. Archived from the original on 4 December 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2010.