The first big football manager

UK had so many successful managers during time, that it would take us days to write details about each of them. Even so, I decided to share a few amazing things about one special person. The first big manager of British football: Herbert Chapman.

He was born on 19th of January 1878 in Kiveton Park, in a family that had other 10 children. Despite playing at successful teams such were Sheffield United, Notts County or Tottenham Hotspurs, he did not won a single trophy as a footballer. But Chapman took his revenge as a coach. As a manager to be precise, because he is considered the first true trainer-manager of a football team. During eleven years (1907-1918) he trained small squads such as Northampton Town and Leeds City, before signing a contract with a powerful team of those times: Huddersfield Town. Arrived here, Herbert continued the successful Era of ‘the terriers’, which were champions in exercise. He won two consecutive leagues in the first two years and the single FA Cup that the squad has achieved in its’ whole existence.

But, when Arsenal made him an offer, in 1925, it was time to leave Huddersfield, after four years alongside with the team from ‘Leeds Road’. The trophies did not come suddenly, but after five years. In 1930, Chapman managed to win the FA Cup (against Huddersfield!) as well as he would obtain two league championships, in 1931 and in 1933. The first ever distinctions in internal football for ‘the gunners’. And Herbert could have surely won more titles, if it hadn’t been for his sudden death, in the first days of 1934. He was only 55 and passed away after he was struck by pneumonia while travelling to watch football games all over England. Eventually, Arsenal did won the championship in that year as well as they did in the following one, becoming the second side from English football to do so. And only two other done it until our days. Practically, Chapman fully participated to the ‘hat-tricks’ realized by both Huddersfield and Arsenal.

The British manager isn’t known only for the trophies that he won, but also for the innovations that he brought when he worked at Arsenal. He was one of the firsts to sustain the introduction as floodlights and he did so on ‘Highbury’, in 1932, but those were used only in trainings. The team played its’ first official home match, under floodlights, in the ‘50s. Also, Herbert got the idea that the players should were numbers on their kits. Plus, he did say that continental competitions are mandatory. Even though his dream came true after two decades, Chapman used to go with his teams often, to play friendly games abroad. He also bore the idea that clubs should transfer foreign and black players. But the sever interdictions from English football, forbid him to sign in 1930 Rudy Hidden, the goalkeeper of the Austrian national football team. Eventually he succeeded to bring Gerard Keyser, the first Dutchman that played in Great Britain.

As a curiosity we can say that, when he signed a player contract with Sheffield United, Chapman wished to remain with an amateur status, because that way he could take advantage of his engineer qualification, in that area.

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