Francis Burns joined Manchester United as a 15-year old in 1964. The
side won the 1967/68 League Championship whilst Francis was carving a
reputation in the reserves. He broke into the first team at 18 making
his debut on 2nd September 1967 in a 3-1 win against West Ham United at
Upton Park. His first goal came a week later on his home debut in a 2-2
draw with Burnley. He featured regularly throughout the season as the
team's left-back and appeared in the opening seven games of the European
Cup campaign up to and including the first leg of the semi-final when
United beat Real Madrid 1-0 at Old Trafford.
However, Francis missed out
on the final success against Benfica as Sir Matt Busby elected to play
the more experienced Shay Brennan. By the following season Busby had
seen enough to start with Francis as the European champions attempted to
defend their crown. They began impressively with a 10-2 aggregate win
against Waterford with Burns scoring in the second leg. He also played
in the first leg of the fiercely fought World Club Championship against
Estudiantes de la Plata.
Iinjury kept him out of the majority of
the remainder of the season, though he did return to feature in both
legs of the ultimately unsuccessful European Cup Semi-Final with AC
Milan. Wilf McGuinness took over the reins at Old Trafford for the
1969/70 season and he saw the talent in Francis, as Burns was virtually a
permanent fixture for the first three quarters of the campaign.
Francis' United career was curtailed thereafter by a series of cartilage
injuries and he left in June 1972, whilst Frank O'Farrell was in
charge, for a fee of £50,000 to Southampton. He made his final
appearance in a 0-0 home draw with Everton on 8th March 1972. (Steve
Senior Club career.
Years Team Apps† Goals
1965–1972 Manchester United 121 6
1972–1973 Southampton 21
1973–1981 Preston North End 273 9
1981–1982 Shamrock Rovers 16.
In February 1987, he emigrated to Perth, Western Australia where he set up an
industrial cleaning business as well as coaching in local football.