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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 11, 2007

FA Cup final hero Porterfield dies age 61

The man whose goal produced one of the greatest FA Cup final shocks has died at the age of 61.

Ian Porterfield, who fired Second Division Sunderland to victory over the mighty Leeds at Wembley Stadium in 1973, died at a hospice in Surrey tonight.

Porterfield was diagnosed with colon cancer earlier this year, but carried on with his duties as manager of Armenia's national team until just before his death.

Indeed, he took charge of his side for their superb 1-1 draw against Portugal in Yerevan on August 22 which left Luiz Felipe Scolari's superstars facing a fight to qualify for the European Championship finals in Austria and Switzerland next summer.

Porterfield's widow Glenda said: 'He may have been a football man all his life, but I know him best as a wonderful human being who was liked by everyone he came in contact with.

'He had his wish to die in harness. Just over two weeks ago, we flew to Armenia for the Portugal game and I'll always remember what happened at the open training session at the stadium on the day before the game.

'The stadium was packed to see all the Portuguese stars like Ronaldo, Deco and the rest, but when Ian walked out, they all stood up and shouted his name. It was very moving.'

Dunfermline-born Porterfield began his management career in December 1979 at Rotherham, where he guided the South Yorkshire club to the Division Three title, and had a successful spell at Sheffield United before replacing Sir Alex Ferguson at Aberdeen following his compatriot's departure for Manchester United in 1986.

He also took charge at Reading and, for 20 months until February 1991, Chelsea, before embarking upon his international odyssey.

Porterfield took charge of the Zambia, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Oman and Trinidad and Tobago national teams, as well South Korean club side Busan I'Park, before accepting the Armenian FA's offer of employment.

Ferguson said: 'His death so young is a tragedy for his family and for football.

'It isn't long ago when he was coaching in Korea that I spoke with him with the intention of getting a few young players over to United.

'I played against him when he was with Raith Rovers. He was an exceptional footballer, blessed with a lot of natural talent.'

It is as a player that Porterfield will be most fondly remembered on Wearside.

Along with goalkeeper Jimmy Montgomery's heroics and manager Bob Stokoe's run across the Wembley turf on the final whistle, his FA Cup final goal is one of the abiding memories of an afternoon which for 34 years has been a central component of Sunderland folklore.

That 31st-minute volley with his weaker right foot overturned seemingly insurmountable odds to secure a remarkable giant-killing act.

Midfielder Porterfield began his playing career at Raith before making a £45,000 move to Sunderland in December 1967.

He made 266 appearances for the club and scored 19 goals before, after a loan spell at Reading, leaving for Sheffield Wednesday during the summer of 1977.

In the meantime, he had been left seriously injured by a car accident in which he suffered a fractured skull and a broken jaw in December 1974.

Porterfield made 130 appearances for Wednesday before hanging up his boots and climbing on to the coaching ladder.

His death robs football of one of its most travelled managers and Wearside of a genuine hero, but one whose exploits on that May afternoon in 1973 will never be forgotten.

The tributes have been coming in for Porterfield, who is best remembered for scoring the only goal of the 1973 FA Cup final which conquered top flight Leeds and won the cup for Division Two Sunderland.

Jimmy Montgomery, in goal for the Wearsiders that day, told Sky Sports: 'It's a very sad day indeed.

'I have known him since he first signed for the club and he was just a wonderful man, a gentleman who would do anything for anybody.

'We had not seen each other for quite a while because of his travels all over the world - but whenever he came back he kept in touch.

'It's a great loss.'

Porterfield was diagnosed with colon cancer earlier this year, but carried on with his duties as manager of Armenia's national team until just before his death.

As well as managing Rotherham, Sheffield United, Aberdeen, Chelsea and Reading, the Dunfermline-born striker took charge of the Zambia, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Oman and Trinidad and Tobago national teams, as well South Korean club side Busan I'Park.

And Montgomery continued: 'All the lads (from the 1973 final) keep in touch.

'I've just spoken to Billy Hughes and Ritchie Pitt tonight. We are all abs devastated.

'The picture he brings to my mind is with his arms in the air and his wide eyes when he got the goal.

'It was absolutely wonderful.'

John Hollins, one of Porterfield's predecessors as Chelsea manager, was also saddened to hear of his passing.

Hollins, the Blues boss from 1985-88, said: 'I hadn't seen him for such a long time but the memories of him are strong. He was always bright, always bubbly.

'He was still a young man in terms of football and it is a terrible loss.

'He had football in his blood and you couldn't change that - he wouldn't want to change that anyway.'

Porterfield managed at Stamford Bridge from 1991-93, leading the Blues at the start of the Premier League era.

He went on to take a number of jobs around the world.

Hollins added: 'It is a tough place to manage, especially in those early days.

'He put himself in the line and obviously learnt a lot of lessons.

'He then globe-trotted everywhere and left a mark on wherever he was.

'We have to live our lives and live every moment. He really packed a lot into his lifetime but there was still a lot left in him.'

Montgomery, now 63, added: 'We had a fantastic time when we came back after winning the cup.

'It took us hours to get 10 miles on an open top bus - it was an occasion we will never forget.

'When I saw Ian last he was bubbly and talked about that particular night.

'Vic Halom is in Bulgaria at present but the other players all hoping to get to the game on Saturday to pay their respect to him.'

Saturday's Premier League match at the Stadium of Light is ironically against Reading - who Porterfield managed for 20 months until February 1991.

On the Scot's stint in charge of Armenia, he added: 'They had a tremendous result (beating Poland 1-0).

'He was warned not to go because of the circumstances (his illness) but he just loved football and being involved and couldn't wait to go back over there.

'I'm really glad there were 17,000 or so singing his name on the pitch at end of the game against Portugal.'

Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn told the club's website, www.safc.com: 'It is a very, very sad day for the football club and of course our immediate thoughts are with Ian's wife Glenda and his family during what is a tremendously difficult time.

'The word legend can be very much over-used in the modern era of football, but Ian is what I would call a true legend of the game.

'He is part of what can only be described as an institution in the long and proud history of Sunderland AFC - the famous FA Cup-winning team of 1973.

'His appearances for the club during 10 loyal years at Roker Park, not to mention his winning goal at Wembley, also ensure that his name is up there with the likes of Charlie Hurley, Raich Carter and Bobby Gurney.'