Laurie CUNNINGHAM

Laurie Cunningham - England - Brief biography of England Career.

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 23 May 1979

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    • POSITION
      Winger
    • DATE OF BIRTH
      Thursday, 08 March 1956
    • PLACE OF BIRTH
      London, England. Died 15th. July 1989 (Aged 33).
  • INTERNATIONAL
  • England
  • CLUBS
  • West Bromwich Albion
    • Club Career Dates
      1977-1979
    • League Debut
      Saturday, 12th March 1977 in a 2-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur (Aged: 21)
    • Club Career
      81 League apps (+5 as sub), 21 goals
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Laurie CUNNINGHAM - England - Brief biography of England Career.

Viv Anderson was famously the first black player to win an England cap and consequently got all the attention when he debuted against Czechoslovakia in 1978. Seven months and three matches later, the second black England player was given his moment. Laurie Cunningham, a precocious and extraordinarily quick winger, had burst on to the scene as one of the clumsily-labelled 'Three Degrees' players at West Bromwich Albion and had wantonly torn apart many a First Division defence by the time Ron Greenwood summoned him for the 1979 Home International tournament. It wasn't a stunning debut as England fought a drab goalless draw with Wales, but Greenwood saw enough confidence in Cunningham's wingplay to keep him in mind for the next set of non-competitive fixtures, by which time his facility to frighten any full back thrust before him had prompted Real Madrid to shell out huge money for his services.

 

First choice left winger Peter Barnes, ironically then signed by the Baggies to replace Cunningham, regained the No.11 shirt for the 1980 European Championships qualifier in Bulgaria but soon Cunningham was back in the team for friendlies against Sweden and Austria - the latter of which England lost 4-3 with Cunningham coming on as a substitute. He was then given his first competitive outing as England brushed aside the Republic of Ireland 2-0 in another straightforward qualifier for the European Championships, but he soon suffered - as did Barnes - from Greenwood's decision to operate only with one specialist winger in the run-up to the finals and narrow up the rest of the midfield. Cunningham didn't feature at the finals in Italy - as did no orthodox left winger - and he only made one more appearance for his country - again as a sub - at the end of 1980, making a meagre total of six caps without scoring. Despite a series of stunning continental performances from Cunningham in inspiring Real Madrid to the 1981 European Cup final, Greenwood was fixed on Arsenal's Graham Rix when he reverted back to a pair of natural flank players and Cunningham's career duly sank. (Matthew Rudd)