Mal Donaghy - Chelsea FC - Biography of his Chelsea career.

Photo/Foto: Nigel French

Date: 17 April 1993

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      Friday, 13 September 1957
      Belfast, Northern Ireland
  • Chelsea FC
    • Club Career Dates
    • League Debut
      Saturday, 15th August 1992 in a 1-1 draw at home to Oldham Athletic (Aged: 34)
    • Club Career
      63 League apps (+5 as sub), 3 goals
  • Luton Town FC
    • Club Career Dates
      1978-1988, 1989-1990
    • League Debut
      Saturday, 19th August 1978 in a 6-1 win at home to Oldham Athletic (Aged: 20)
    • Club Career
      (Inc. loan spell in 1989/90)
      415 League apps, 16 goals
  • Manchester United
    • Club Career Dates
    • League Debut
      Sunday, 30th October 1988 in a 1-1 draw at Everton (Aged: 31)
    • Club Career
      76 League apps (+13 as sub)
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Mal DONAGHY - Chelsea FC - Biography of his Chelsea career.

The ever-dependable Mal Donaghy had been a stalwart of the Luton Town defence for more than a decade before Alex Ferguson signed him for Manchester United. Four seasons and 89 appearances later, just a matter of weeks before his 35th birthday, Chelsea manager Ian Porterfield paid £100, 000 to take the Northern Ireland international to Stamford Bridge. A veteran of two World Cup campaigns - he was famously red-carded against host nation Spain in 1982 on a curious night when the referee allowed the Spanish team carte blanche to try every trick in the book to retrieve a losing situation - the versatile defender slipped in alongside Paul Elliott at the centre of Chelsea's defence for the opening game of the 1992/93 season, a 1-1 draw with Oldham.

The pair, team-mates during their time at Luton, quickly formed a solid partnership which was sadly ended after just seven matches when Elliott suffered his career-ending injury. Donaghy continued to impress alongside a variety of partners throughout the campaign and his 40 league appearances proved total vindication of Porterfield's decision to sign the veteran defender. Having failed to find the net for fully five years - not counting the own goal he slid in at the Stretford End to earn Chelsea a draw at Old Trafford just a few months before he joined the Blues - Mal began to fancy himself as a centre-forward when he followed up his late headed equaliser at Leeds with an important goal in the very next game, opening the floodgates in the second-half as Middlesbrough capitulated to a 4-0 defeat at the Bridge.

New manager Glenn Hoddle began 1993/94 with his favoured 'diamond' midfield system and asked Donaghy to play the midfield holding role. Despite many a raised eyebrow, and to the Irishman's great credit, the move was a success. However, Chelsea's league form was poor and Hoddle was forced to make changes. Mal captained the side on two occasions in the autumn but was rarely seen after Christmas as Eddie Newton made the holding role his own with a string of outstanding performances. Donaghy returned at left-back in February for a clash with Tottenham and scored his last professional goal in what was a 4-3 win for the Blues.

Chelsea reached the FA Cup final that year but Mal was just a spectator on a wet and desperate day at Wembley as Manchester United lifted the trophy with a 4-0 victory. Indeed, his final few appearances in league football came when Hoddle was resting players with one eye on the big cup games and his last appearance before hanging up his boots on an exemplary career at the end of that season came as a late substitute for Craig Burley in a 2-1 defeat by Coventry which was witnessed by less than 9,000 spectators. He probably deserved better. (Kelvin Barker)