Obituary: Frank Munro, footballer

Teenage goalscorer who won honours as a defender with Wolves and Scotland

Frank Munro, footballer.

Born: 25 October, 1947, in Broughty Ferry.

Died: 16 August, 2011, in Wolverhampton, aged 63.

FORMER Scottish internationalist Frank Munro, who has died after a long illness, was never a huge star, but he enjoyed a long and successful career, during which he was respected by his peers and the public.

Born and raised in Broughty Ferry, he showed enough promise as a schoolboy to be offered a ground staff position at Chelsea, but soon he returned to Tayside, where manager Jerry Kerr, who was embarking on the experiment of developing the club's own players, signed him for Dundee United. A centre forward in those days, Munro was in the first team at Tannadice as a 17-year-old, quickly winning Scottish Youth team honours and, aged still only 19, and with barely 50 first team games behind him, Eddie Turnbull paid 10,000 to take him to Aberdeen, in October 1966.

Under Turnbull's coaching he developed into a good, young centre back. In April 1967, he was a member of the Aberdeen team which lost to Jock Stein's Celtic - less than a month away from Lisbon immortality, in the Scottish Cup final. With Celtic winning everything that season, the Dons went into the European Cup Winners Cup the following season. Their first opponents were RK Reykjavic. Munro scored the opener, Aberdeen's first goal in Europe, on his way to a hat trick in the Dons' 10-1 first leg victory at Pittodrie.

His time at Pittodrie was to be almost as short as his Tannadice stay. After the 1967 cup final, Turnbull's team had crossed the Atlantic, been re-named Washington Whip and contested one of the fledgling attempts to import "soccer" to the USA. They reached the grand final, but lost narrowly to LA Wolves, in reality Wolverhampton Wanderers, but Munro's goal-scoring stuck in the mind of Wolves boss Ronnie Allen and in 1968, after a 55,000 cheque changed hands, Munro joined Molyneux.

He had found his place and time. The all-conquering days of Stan Cullis and Billy Wright were gone, but Wolves were still a mid-to-upper table First Division club and in Derek Dougan, they still had a sprinkling of stardust. They just needed some steel at the back, which Munro provided. Cup semi-finals became regular events; Wolves won the Texaco Cup in 1971 and lost narrowly to Tottenham Hotspur in an all-English Uefa Cup Final the following year.

They finally lifted silverware in the 1974 League Cup final and throughout these successes, major and minor, Munro wore the No 5 shirt.

He still scored the odd goal, none more celebrated than his opener in Wolves surprise 2-1 win over Don Revie's "Damned (Leeds) United" in 1972. That win denied Leeds a league and cup double. Wolves were relegated in 1976, but, with Munro as captain, bounced straight back into the top flight.However, in 1977, after 371 games, and 19 goals for Wolves, he returned to Scotland, his move, initially on loan, to Celtic allowed him to finally wear the Hoops he had followed as a boy and enjoy the status of being Jock Stein's final Celtic signing. He was even given the captaincy on his debut, against St Mirren in a League Cup tie at Celtic Park.

But his was not a happy debut. Under pressure from Frank McGarvey for the whole game, he even scored an own goal. The move to Celtic was made permanent in December, but his stay was short. After barely two seasons and a mere 21 games, he left to try his luck Down Under.

There was a short spell as player-coach with Albion Rovers but, in effect, he played out his career in Australia, turned to coaching and management, and 20 years ago, returned to the UK and settled in Wolverhampton.

He won four Under-23 caps and nine full caps for Scotland. These were spread over four years - four during the dog days of Bobby Brown's reign as Scotland boss in 1971, then, after being ignored by Tommy Docherty when he was enjoying his greatest success with Wolves, he was recalled by Willie Ormond in 1975 to add a further five caps.

He only enjoyed one victory in Scotland's colours, a 3-0 Hampden win over Northern Ireland in the 1975 Home Internationals, but he had the misfortune to be involved in some of the "Great Scotland Disasters" of that time - the 1971 and 1975 Wembley beatings, a dire 1-0 loss to Northern Ireland in 1971 and the abject losses to Denmark and USSR which brought an end to the Brown reign weeks later.

He was also unlucky in that there was genuine competition for the No 5 shirt back then.

His failed marriage to Margaret produced sons, Stuart and Grant, while his long years of suffering, wheelchair bound, after a stroke in 1994 were eased by the love and care of long-term partner Naomi and the visits of his former Wolves team mates.

He had been confined to a Staffordshire nursing home and had been receiving treatment for pneumonia in recent months.

On 16 August, his condition deteriorated. He was finding it difficult to breathe and was rushed to New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton, where he died later that evening.