FA Cup hero Porterfield dies
Former Sunderland midfielder will be forever remembered for his FA Cup winning goal
Staff and agencies
Tuesday September 11, 2007
The man whose goal produced one of the greatest FA Cup final shocks has died at the age of 61.
Ian Porterfield, who fired Second Division Sunderland to victory over the mighty Leeds at Wembley Stadium in 1973, has died at a hospice in Surrey.
Porterfield was diagnosed with colon cancer earlier this year, but carried on with his duties as manager of Armenia's national team until just before his death.
Indeed, he took charge of his side for their superb 1-1 draw against Portugal in Yerevan on August 22 which left Luiz Felipe Scolari's superstars facing a fight to qualify for the European Championship finals in Austria and Switzerland next summer.
Porterfield's widow Glenda said: "He may have been a football man all his life, but I know him best as a wonderful human being who was liked by everyone he came in contact with.
"He had his wish to die in harness. Just over two weeks ago, we flew to Armenia for the Portugal game and I'll always remember what happened at the open training session at the stadium on the day before the game.
"The stadium was packed to see all the Portuguese stars like Ronaldo, Deco and the rest, but when Ian walked out, they all stood up and shouted his name. It was very moving."
Dunfermline-born Porterfield began his management career in December 1979 at Rotherham, where he guided the South Yorkshire club to the Division Three title, and had a successful spell at Sheffield United before replacing Sir Alex Ferguson at Aberdeen following his compatriot's departure for Manchester United in 1986.
He also took charge at Reading and, for 20 months until February 1991, Chelsea, before embarking upon his international odyssey.
Porterfield took charge of the Zambia, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Oman and Trinidad and Tobago national teams, as well South Korean club side Busan I'Park, before accepting the Armenian FA's offer of employment.
Ferguson said: "His death so young is a tragedy for his family and for football. It isn't long ago when he was coaching in Korea that I spoke with him with the intention of getting a few young players over to United.
"I played against him when he was with Raith Rovers. He was an exceptional footballer, blessed with a lot of natural talent."
It is as a player that Porterfield will be most fondly remembered on Wearside though. Along with goalkeeper Jimmy Montgomery's heroics and manager Bob Stokoe's run across the Wembley turf on the final whistle, his FA Cup final goal is one of the abiding memories of an afternoon which for 34 years has been a central component of Sunderland folklore.
That 31st-minute volley with his weaker right foot overturned seemingly insurmountable odds to secure a remarkable giant-killing act.
Midfielder Porterfield began his playing career at Raith before making a £45,000 move to Sunderland in December 1967. He made 266 appearances for the club and scored 19 goals before, after a loan spell at Reading, leaving for Sheffield Wednesday during the summer of 1977.
In the meantime, he had been left seriously injured by a car accident in which he suffered a fractured skull and a broken jaw in December 1974.
Porterfield made 130 appearances for Wednesday before hanging up his boots and climbing on to the coaching ladder.
His death robs football of one of its most travelled managers and Wearside of a genuine hero, but one whose exploits on that May afternoon in 1973 will never be forgotten.
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