Roy Bentley

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Roy Bentley
Personal information
Full name Roy Thomas Frank Bentley
Date of birth (1924-05-17) 17 May 1924 (age 93)
Place of birth Bristol, England
Playing position Striker/Defender
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1939–1946 Bristol City ? (?)
1946–1948 Newcastle United 48 (22)
1948–1956 Chelsea 324 (128)
1956–1960 Fulham 142 (23)
1960–1962 Queens Park Rangers 45 (0)
National team
1949–1955 England 12 (9)
Teams managed
1963–1968 Reading
1969–1972 Swansea City
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Roy Thomas Frank Bentley (born 17 May 1924) is an English retired football player who played 367 games for Chelsea and captained the club to their first League Championship in the 1954–55 season. He also won 12 caps for the England national side. He later became a manager. Bentley was, for a time, one of England's top centre forwards.

Club career[edit]

Early years[edit]

Bentley served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and afterwards played for both Bristol City and Bristol Rovers before signing for Newcastle United in 1946. He was with the club for less than two years, but formed a key part of a forward line which also included Jackie Milburn, Len Shackleton and Charlie Wayman. He reached an FA Cup semi-final with the club in the 1946–47 season, but they were defeated 4–0 by eventual winners Charlton Athletic.


In January 1948 Bentley signed for London side Chelsea for £12,500, partially because he had been advised by his doctor that a move south would be a remedy for the lung problems from which he occasionally suffered. He arrived at Chelsea as a replacement for Tommy Lawton, who had also moved to Chelsea in search of a cure for lung trouble, and was initially compared unfavourably with his predecessor. His Chelsea career took off slowly as he struggled to adapt to an unfamiliar style of play. They lost 2–4 at home to Huddersfield Town on his debut and he scored just three goals in his first four months with the club.

From there, however, Bentley's fortunes changed. He was an early exponent of the deep-lying centre forward position, an unorthodox tactic which often unsettled opposing defenders. This, combined with a strong heading ability and a powerful shot, saw him score 23 goals in his first full season with Chelsea, making him the club's top scorer, for which he also earned his first England call-up. Though Chelsea's league form during his time there was often patchy, he played a key part in their first major FA Cup run for almost two decades in 1950. He scored two goals in a 3–0 fifth round win against Chesterfield while in the quarter-final against Manchester United his thunderous shot from 30 yards clinched a 2–0 win. Chelsea were eventually knocked out in the semi-finals by Arsenal, despite Bentley giving them a 2–0 lead. During his time at Chelsea, he was picked for the London XI in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.

After another semi-final loss in 1952, again to Arsenal, Ted Drake arrived as Chelsea's new manager. Within three years, Bentley had captained Chelsea to their first League title, in 1954–55. In addition to being captain, he scored 21 league goals during the season, including a hat-trick against Newcastle and two strikes in a 4–3 win against principal rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers. Bentley remained with Chelsea for only one more season and was one of the first to leave as the ageing championship-winning side was gradually broken up by Drake.

Having scored 150 goals in 367 appearances, Bentley is, as of 2014, joint fourth in Chelsea's all-time goalscorers list, level with Peter Osgood as Frank Lampard topped the goal tally on 27 March 2010. He was top scorer at the club in each of his eight full seasons there.

Fulham & QPR[edit]

Bentley signed for Chelsea's West London neighbours Fulham in 1956. At Fulham Bentley was converted into a centre-half and they reached the FA Cup semi-finals in 1958, where he was once again on the losing side. In 1960 he left Fulham but again stayed in West London, this time moving to Queens Park Rangers, where he saw out the remainder of his playing career.

International career[edit]

Bentley was an England international for six years. He made his debut against Sweden and played for his country at the 1950 FIFA World Cup, including the 1–0 defeat to the USA. He scored the winning goal against Scotland in qualifying for that tournament. Although both finalists were guaranteed places in the World Cup (the top two finishers in the British Home Championships would qualify for the World Cup), the SFA had said that if they did not win the Home Nations, they would withdraw from the World Cup. As Scotland lost due to Bentley's goal, they withdrew and he was duly christened "the man who robbed Scotland of Rio." In November 1954 he scored a hat-trick against Wales. He earned twelve England caps and scored nine goals. Bentley is the only surviving member of England's 1950 World Cup squad.

England's goal tally first.

Playing statistics[edit]

Season Club Division League FA Cup Charity Shield Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
1947–48 Chelsea First Division 14 3 1 0 0 0 15 3
1948–49 40 19 3 2 0 0 43 21
1949–50 39 18 6 5 0 0 45 23
1950–51 38 8 5 3 0 0 43 11
1951–52 32 12 9 5 0 0 41 17
1952–53 32 12 9 5 0 0 41 17
1953–54 41 21 1 0 0 0 42 21
1954–55 41 21 3 0 0 0 44 21
1955–56 38 14 7 1 1 1 46 16
1956–57 4 0 0 0 0 0 4 0
Chelsea total 324 128 42 21 1 1 367 150


Following his retirement from playing, Bentley moved into management. He took over at Reading and later Swansea City, winning promotion to the old Third Division with the latter. He returned to Reading in 1977, this time as club secretary.


In the late 1980s Bentley lived in Chigwell, Essex. As of 2014 he lives in Reading, Berkshire. Following the death of Tom Finney in February 2014, Bentley became the only surviving player from England's 1950 World Cup squad.


  • Cheshire, Scott (1998). Chelsea: An Illustrated History. Breedon Books. ISBN 1-85983-143-5. 
  • Mears, Brian (2004). Chelsea: A 100-year History. Mainstream Sport. ISBN 1-84018-823-5.