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O's Great Woosnam Dies

22 July 2013

PHIL Woosnam, one of Leyton Orient's greatest players, died in Atlanta, Georgia last Friday, aged 80.

He joined the O's as an amateur from Sutton United and made his first team debut in April 1955. The following season, this classy midfield playmaker was a key member of the side that won Division Three (South), the club's first promotion.
 
Phil was a football academic, who combined his playing stint with Orient with his full-time job as a teacher at nearby Leyton County High School, where he taught science and maths. This limited his appearances tally but he still played 112 league and cup games (19 goals) spanning five seasons.
 
He only turned pro in January 1957 but a move to a top flight club was inevitable. He left to join West Ham in November 1958 - just a month after winning the first of his 15 senior Welsh caps - for a then club record (incoming) fee of £30,000, which was considered huge at the time.
 
After four years at Upton Park, he moved on to Aston Villa in a £27,000 deal and actually scored for them on his return to Brisbane Road in March 1963.
 
At the age of 34, he emigrated to the USA in 1966 and became a highly respected coach at Atlanta. But Woosnam was always a visionary on a mission and his greatest legacy was undoubtedly his pioneering role in the development of soccer States-side, as Commissioner of the North American Soccer League and culminating In America hosting the 1994 World Cup finals.
 
Phil died after complications arising from prostate cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
 
Leyton Orient sends sincere condolences to his wife Ruth and the rest of their family and friends.


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