Jimmy O'Neill (footballer, born 1931)
|Full name||James Anthony O'Neill|
|Date of birth||13 October 1931|
|Place of birth||Dublin, Republic of Ireland|
|Date of death||15 December 2007(aged 76)|
|Place of death||Ormskirk, England|
|Height||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|1966–1967||→ Cork Celtic (loan)||16||(0)|
|1952–1959||Republic of Ireland||17||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
James Anthony O'Neill (13 October 1931 – 15 December 2007) was an Irish international football goalkeeper. He played 405 league games in a 17-year career in the Football League, and also won 17 caps for the Republic of Ireland. Though only 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m), he was able to use his acrobatic ability to save the ball.
He spent the whole of the 1950s with Everton, helping the "Toffees" to win promotion out of the Second Division in 1953–54. He was sold on to Stoke City for £5,000 in July 1960, and helped the "Potters" to top the Second Division table in 1962–63. He moved on to Darlington in March 1964, before signing with Port Vale in February 1965. He was loaned out to Cork Celtic in December 1966, before being allowed to join the club permanently on a free transfer in May 1967. He retired the following year, and later ran a taxi firm in Ormskirk.
Dublin-born O'Neill played junior football in Republic of Ireland for Bulfin United, and was an Irish schoolboy international. He was spotted in a youth international match in Brentford by Everton and signed as a professional with the club in May 1949, the "Toffees" seeing him as a potential replacement for 39-year-old Ted Sagar. He made his début as an 18-year-old against Middlesbrough in August 1950. Everton were relegated out of the First Division in 1950–51. They finished seven points short of promotion in 1951–52, before dropping to 16th in 1952–53, just five points above relegation. O'Neill played in the 1953 FA Cup semi-final against Bolton Wanderers, and shared the goalkeeping duties with Harry Leyland during the promotion campaign of 1953–54, as Cliff Britton led the club to a second-place finish, behind champions Leicester City on goal average but ahead of Blackburn Rovers by a single point. Everton then finished 11th in the top-flight in 1954–55, and 15th in 1955–56. New boss Ian Buchan led the club to 15th in 1956–57 and 16th in 1957–58. O'Neill did not get along with new manager Johnny Carey and so became unsettled. He remained though for further mid-table campaigns in 1958–59 and 1959–60, and played a total of 213 league and cup games during his time at Goodison Park.
He joined Tony Waddington's Stoke City for £5,000 in July 1960. He played 47 games in 1960–61, as the club struggled in Second Division, He played 46 games in 1961–62, as Stoke were boosted by the return of the legendary Stanley Matthews. O'Neill was an ever-present in the 45 match 1962–63 season, as the "Potters" won the Second Division championship. However, in 1963–64 Waddington placed his faith in the new signings of Bobby Irvine and Lawrie Leslie and O'Neill, the eldest of the three, was now the third choice keeper. Unable to accept this arrangement he moved on to Fourth Division club Darlington in March 1964. He had made 149 league and cup appearances in four years at the Victoria Ground. Darlington finished one point above the re-election zone in 1963–64, and again struggled in 1964–65. He made 32 league appearances during his eleven months at Feethams.
In February 1965 he moved on to Port Vale, who were then managed by Jackie Mudie. He was preferred ahead of Ken Hancock and Reg Davies, and played 13 games of the 1964–65 season, as the "Valiants" were relegated out of the Third Division. He played 35 games in 1965–66, but lost his place to new signing Stuart Sharratt in March.
In December 1966 he was loaned out to Cork Celtic back in his home country, and made his League of Ireland debut on 18 December. He joined permanently on a free transfer in May 1967. He retired in 1968.
O'Neill won his first Republic of Ireland cap in a 6–0 defeat at the hands of Spain on 1 June 1952 in Madrid. Despite conceding six it was Ireland's defenders who were culpable for the goals and so O'Neill was retained, and went on to win another 16 caps for his country. He played three games of qualifying for the 1954 FIFA World Cup, and one game of qualifying for the 1958 FIFA World Cup. He fell out of the international scene after Alan Kelly established himself as Ireland's number one.
Style of play
O'Neill was not a tall man, but he was an extremely acrobatic keeper with a natural ability to catch powerful airborne shots and make it look easy. He was adept at dealing with crosses and had excellent handling abilities.
- Sourced from Jimmy O'Neill profile at the English National Football Archive (subscription required)
|Club||Season||Division||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Total|
|Stoke City||1960–61||Second Division||41||0||6||0||1||0||48||0|
|Port Vale||1964–65||Third Division||13||0||0||0||0||0||13||0|
|Republic of Ireland national team|
- with Everton
- with Stoke City
- Kent, Jeff (1996). Port Vale Personalities. Witan Books. p. 220. ISBN 0-9529152-0-0.
- Stoke City 101 Golden Greats. Desert Islands Books. 2002. pp. 149–50. ISBN 1-874287-55-4.
- Ponting, Ivan (21 December 2007). "Jimmy O'Neill: Crowd-pleasing goalkeeper". The Independent. Retrieved 14 June 2009.
- "Tributes as ex-Everton goalie dies, aged 76", Ormskirk Advertiser, Issue 13,698, 20 December 2007 page 12.
- "Jimmy O'Neill". National Football Teams. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
- Matthews, Tony (18 December 2008). The Legends of Stoke City. Derby, United Kingdom: Breedon Books. pp. 132–3. ISBN 978-1-85983-653-8.