Steve Death

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Steve Death
Steve Death.jpg
Personal information
Full name Stephen Victor Death
Date of birth 19 September 1949
Place of birth Norton, Suffolk, England
Date of death 26 October 2003(2003-10-26) (aged 54)
Place of death Reading, England
Height 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
Playing position Goalkeeper
Youth career
1967–1969 West Ham United
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1969 West Ham United 1 (0)
1969–1982 Reading 471 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Stephen Victor "Steve" Death (19 September 1949 – 26 October 2003) was an English football goalkeeper who played for Reading for almost the entirety of his career. Death was one of the longest-serving players to appear for Reading. He has been described as "Reading's greatest ever goalkeeper".[1]


West Ham United[edit]

Death was an England schoolboy international who made one League appearance for West Ham United on 30 April 1969 in a 1–1 away draw with Manchester City covering for regular goalkeeper Bobby Ferguson.[1] Death had originally joined West Ham as an apprentice in 1967 but by 1969 found his opportunities for first team football blocked by Ferguson and Peter Grotier[1]


He joined Reading in 1969 and went straight into the team as first choice goalkeeper, and despite being only 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m), the smallest goalkeeper in the Football League, he made the position his own for the next ten years with a total of 537 first team appearances.[1] There were doubts about his height as a goalkeeper immediately on joining Reading. He made his debut on 8 November 1969 in a 1–0 win[2] against Brighton after which the press described him as "an insignificantly built bundle of daredevil energy". Doubts about his height resurfaced after the next game on 22 November 1969 a 6–2 defeat by Southport[3] but Death continued to win the popularity of Reading fans so as to be named their player of the season in his first season for the club.[4]

Death set many other records during his time at Elm Park. He was elected Player of the Season four times for seasons 1969/70, 1972/73, 1973/74 and 1976/77, won PFA Divisional Awards in 1973–74 and 1978–79,[1] collected a Division Four Championship plaque in 1978–79, kept 26 clean sheets in that season,[5] and at one stage made 156 consecutive first team appearances; this remains a club record. Until 31 January 2009, Death held the record of 1,074 minutes without conceding a goal in English league football.[1][6] This record was subsequently broken by Edwin van der Sar playing for Manchester United versus Everton on 31 January 2009.[citation needed]

After football[edit]

Death was given a testimonial in the 1979–80 season, with over 7,000 watching his Testimonial Match against a Young England XI managed by his former manager at West Ham, Ron Greenwood.[1] He left the game in 1982 and returned to his native Suffolk. He subsequently returned to Reading to work as a greenkeeper at Mapledurham local golf course.[1]


Death died of cancer in 2003, aged 54 in the Duchess of Kent Hospice, Reading. He was survived by his partner, Sharon and his children Justin, Amber and Alexandria.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Hammers and Reading mourn Death". Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  2. ^ "Reading v Brighton and Hove Albion, 08 November 1969". Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  3. ^ "Southport v Reading, 22 November 1969". Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  4. ^ "Steve Death". Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  5. ^ Turner, Georgina (23 October 2013). "Which player has moved most in his career without a transfer fee paid?". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  6. ^ "The Story of Reading FC". Retrieved 29 October 2013.