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Ed McIlvenny

Personal information
Full nameEdward Joseph McIlvenny
Date of birth21 October 1924
Place of birthGreenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland
Date of death18 May 1989(age 64)
Place of deathEastbourne, Sussex, England
Height5 ft 9 in
Playing positionHalf back

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Edward John "Ed" McIlvenny (21 October 1924 in Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland 18 May 1989 in Eastbourne, Sussex, England), also known as Eddie McIlvenny, was a Scottish-American soccer player who most notably captained the United States national team in their 1 - 0 upset of England in the 1950 FIFA World Cup.

He learned the game as a youth and was selected to Scottish Junior League on a tour of the North of Scotland. In 1947 he signed with the Welsh club Wrexham A.F.C., then in the Third Division North of the English Football League, but he only played seven games for them before moving to the U.S. in 1949 to stay with his sister.

McIlvenny excelled with the Philadelphia Nationals of the American Soccer League, where he teamed up with U.S. national team captain Walter Bahr, and was selected to join the national team during their 1950 World Cup appearance. He was given the honor of being captain for the game against England "because he was British", and in that game, it was this throw-in that led to the U.S. goal. Although he was not a U.S. citizen, he had declared his intention of becoming one and thus was eligible to play, according to the rules of the United States Soccer Football Association at the time.

However, he never did gain citizenship. Earlier that same year, he had played in an All-Star game against Manchester United and his play attracted the attention of United manager Matt Busby, who offered him a spot on the team after the World Cup. Upon his return to England, the English press called him "The Yank from the Tail of the Bank" (a reference to the sand bank that finishes at Greenock). He only had two appearances for them, however, and transferred to Waterford United of the League of Ireland instead. He played for them for four years and then returned to England to play for Headington United, after which he retired from playing and ran a football school.

In the movie The Game of Their Lives that depicted the U.S. victory over England, McIlvenny (played by U.S. soccer player John Harkes) was given a much smaller role and the captainship was given to Walter Bahr instead. McIlvenny's widow, Sheila, was reported as saying: "It's disappointing, but what do you expect from Hollywood?... It is not the true story, not at all. I think he would have accepted it, but I don't think he would have been happy with it because it wasn't the truth."

He was enshrined in the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame, along with the other members of the 1950 World Cup team, in 1976. He is also featured in the Scottish Football Museum.

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