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Friday, July 15, 2011

Laurie Cunningham's Manchester United career remembered

We're the Famous Man United - Old Trafford in the '80s: The Players' Stories by Andy Mitten in paperback, now out for under £5!

this first appeared in Red News 156

A life tragically ended at the age of 33 in a car accident, his loan spell was the season before Crooks' as he came to us after his mixed time at Madrid (the first English player to play for them) to help us out as we prepared for the FA Cup Final of 1983, featuring five times, and scoring a belting overhead kick at home to Watford for his sole goal. Again Cunningham was not the player, after injury (and 18 months out for Madrid) and off field partying, that had done so well for West Brom and after pulling himself out with injury from the 1983 Cup Final squad after he was disappointed with his own performance in a training session in London (the late Alan Davies came in for him as a late call-up, as Stevie Coppell was out injured), he left to join up with Sporting de Gijón, still only 27 years old. It's a shame we never saw the real player, and a crying one that he didn't get more than his 6 caps for England. Gordon Mcqueen said of him: “Laurie was a fantastic player. He had played at Real Madrid where he came on loan to us from, yet did not pretend to be star. He was supposed to
play in the '83 Cup Final but got injured”. He himself said: “I don't think I have ever fulfilled my potential, Coaches and managers have not always ap- preciated how much I can do. Even at Real, I couldn't express myself fully because they treated me as an orthodox winger and I am capable of much more than that.” On his time at United: “To hear the crowd chanting my name was a terrific boost to me morale. I've been out of the big time for almost two years now”. Big Fat Ron explained his exit: “I really am sorry that the lad failed to overcome his fitness problems. He is the kind of player supporters of United would have loved to see in full flow. What little we did see is nothing compared to what he was capable of during his days with me at West Brom. In fairness, there was no way I could justify paying a large fee for him in his present condition”. A shame all round.