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Willie Irvine

Personal information
Full nameWilliam John Irvine
Date of birth18 June 1943(age 73)
Place of birthEden, Northern Ireland
Height1.77 m (5 ft 10 in)
Playing positionCentre forward

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William John "Willie" Irvine (born 18 June 1943) is a former professional footballer who played as a centre forward. Born in Eden, County Antrim, into a large family, he grew up in the nearby town of Carrickfergus. He did well at school, but chose to pursue a career in professional football and initially played for local club Linfield. After a spell in amateur football, Irvine travelled to England for a trial with Burnley at the age of 16. He was offered a professional deal and spent three years playing for the youth and reserve teams, before making his senior debut at the end of the 1962 63 season. Over the following seasons, Irvine became a regular feature of the Burnley team and in the 1965 66 campaign, he scored 29 goals and was the highest goalscorer in the Football League First Division.

Irvine lost his place in the Burnley team after suffering a broken leg during a cup tie in 1967, and never properly regained his form for the club. He was later transfer listed, and joined local rivals Preston North End in March 1968. In the Football League Second Division, he began to score goals again and was Preston's top goalscorer in the 1968 69 season despite suffering a serious leg injury which forced him to miss much of the campaign. When Alan Ball was named Preston manager in the summer of 1970, Irvine found himself out of the team. He joined Brighton & Hove Albion in July 1971 after impressing during a loan spell earlier in the year. He moved to Halifax Town midway through the 1972 73 season, but left the club after six months. Irvine ended his football career with a spell at semi-professional Great Harwood, before retiring at the age of 29.

In addition to playing club football, Irvine also represented the Northern Ireland national football team. He won 23 caps for his country, scoring eight goals. After retiring from football, he ran his own do-it-yourself shop but suffered from severe depression when the

business collapsed. Irvine spent time in hospital after taking an overdose of medication, but recovered and later worked as a community worker before becoming a window cleaner. As of 2010, he works full-time in an aerospace factory, and also gives guided tours of Burnley's stadium, Turf Moor, on matchdays.

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