Ian Porterfield

IAN PORTERFIELD Footballer and manager

Born: 11 February, 1946, in Dunfermline. Died: 11 September, 2007, in Surrey, aged 61.

IAN Porterfield had a long and distinguished career as footballer and manager, but is best remembered for a single goal which won the 1973 FA Cup final for Sunderland.

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A Lochgelly man, he went from the local junior team to Raith Rovers, where his elegant play in midfield quickly brought him comparisons with Jim Baxter and, indeed, in 1967 Sunderland paid the Stark's Park club 45,000 to take him to Roker Park as a direct replacement for the sublime Baxter, who had gone to Nottingham Forest.

Then, as now, the Black Cats drifted between First and Second Divisions and in 1973, as a Second Division side, the Wearsiders staged a remarkable FA Cup run, all the way to Wembley. There, they were to face Don Revie's Leeds United, a team then perhaps at the zenith of their powers.

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This final was seen as a total mis-match, but Sunderland manager Bob Stokoe's side, with a core of Scots journeymen - Dick Malone, skipper Bobby Kerr, Billy Hughes and Porterfield - produced the cup shock of the 20th century by beating the Billy Bremner-led Tykes.

Goalkeeper Jim Montgomery produced the defining moment of the match with his late double save from Trevor Cherrie and Peter Lorimer, but that moment of magic would have been meaningless had not Porterfield volleyed home Kerr's early corner from the left to give Sunderland the lead.

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In the wake of his goal, Porterfield was spoken of as a possible Scotland player, but, though he continued to play, he was never the same player after a serious car crash in December 1974, from which he was fortunate to escape with nothing worse than a fractured skull and a broken jaw.

He went on to play more than 250 games for Sunderland before, after a short spell with Reading, winding down his playing career with Sheffield Wednesday. He retired in 1979 after nearly 500 games and 37 goals, switching straight to coaching with the Owls.

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From Hillsborough it was but a short hop into management with Rotherham United and immediate success as Third Division winners.

Sheffield United were on one of their under-achieving periods and Porterfield was invited to get them out of the Fourth Division and back to the first, given a five-year contract in which to achieve this in 1981.

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By 1986, the Blades were becalmed in mid-table Division Two, their manager's act needed sharpening, so he stepped into probably the most difficult job in football, when he succeeded Alex Ferguson as Aberdeen manager. This task would have beaten most men and Porterfield was no exception. Ferguson's wonderful team, which had brought such silverware to the Silver City, was breaking up, adequate replacements were impossible to find and one trophy, the Tennent's Sixes in 1987, wasn't what the Aberdeen fans expected.

He and Aberdeen parted company in 1988 and after a few months on the dole, Porterfield returned to management, with former club Reading, in 1989.

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He did well enough with Reading to earn another big job, with Chelsea, certainly not the glamour club they are today, but still a First Division outfit with a residue of the sheen which the likes of Tommy Docherty, Terry Venables, Charlie Cook and Peter Osgood had brought to Stamford Bridge in the 1960s.

The Blues were founder members of the English Premiership in 1992, but Porterfield became the first Premiership manager to fall when he was sacked the following year. Apart from a few months as assistant to former Sunderland team-mate Colin Todd, with Bolton in 1996, this was Porterfield's final fling at management in Britain.

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He then became a Scottish soccer missionary, taking his talents to the far corners of the world.

His first stop was Zambia, where he had to rebuild the national side after a devastating air crash claimed the lives of the country's top players. So successful was he in this task, he was given the freedom of Zambia, where he remains a national football hero.

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His wanderings then took him to Zimbabwe, to club posts in Oman and Saudi Arabia and to the Caribbean, where, as manager of Trinidad and Tobago, he polished the rough diamond that was Marvin Andrews, today a cult hero with Raith Rovers.

Porterfield's next stop was the Far East, where he took Korean side Busan l'Park to national cup glory in 2004, before returning to Europe to manage Armenia.

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In March this year, he was diagnosed with colonic cancer, but he continued to guide Armenia between chemotherapy sessions and only last month he master-minded a wonderful result when his unrated minnows held Portugal to a draw in a Euro 2008 qualifier.

He returned home to Great Britain for ongoing chemotherapy before, earlier this week, in a hospital in Surrey, he lost his battle against the disease.

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He was perhaps unlucky as a player and manager - the 1974 car crash probably denied him a Scotland cap when he was in the form of his life; succeeding Ferguson was mission impossible; he went to Chelsea when the club was in dire financial straits; with Zambia and Trinidad and Tobago he couldn't quite produce World Cup qualifying performances, but, as he proved in his final match as a manager, he could lift sides to great feats.

Ian Porterfield is survived by his wife, Glenda.