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Jimmy Hagan

James (Jimmy) Hagan (born January 21, 1918, Washington, Tyne and Wear, UK, died February 28, 1998, aged 80) was an English football player and manager. He played between 1938 and 1958 for Sheffield United and once for England. As manager he had his greatest successes with SL Benfica in the early 1970s.

The Player

Just one full England cap, 1948 versus Denmark in Copenhagen (0-0), does not do justice to one of the finest British footballers of his era. A two-footed inside forward with an astonishing repertoire of tricks, Jimmy was also a regular goalscorer. His career was interrupted by World War II, but he remains a legend amongst Sheffield United fans for his performances during nearly 20 years service at "the Lane".

Following in the footsteps of his father, a former Newcastle United player, Hagan represented England at schoolboy level and after spells with Washington Colliery and Usworth Colliery; he joined the groundstaff of Liverpool before leaving for Derby County at fifteen years of age. He stayed at the Baseball Ground until the age of twenty when United's manager Teddy Davison met his Derby counterpart George Jobey and haggled over the £3,000 asking price, eventually agreeing to pay £2,925.

With a weekly wage of £7 per week plus a first-team appearance fee of £1, Hagan made his debut two days later on November 5, 1938 in a 2-1 victory against Swansea Town in Division 2. His first goal came 21 days later at Bramall Lane in a 3-1 victory over West Ham United. His first hat-trick for the club came in the last game of the 1938-39 season, with United needing to win to gain promotion instead of local rivals Sheffield Wednesday who having played all their 42 games were one point ahead on 53 with a superior goal average. Promotion was secured with a 6-1 win, Hagan contributing a goal.

After the war, Hagan initially refused to re-sign for United, missing the first four games of the 1946-47 season. Having got a job as a trainee chartered surveyor he only rejoined the team on a part-time basis. He continued to play for United until 1958, as captain between 1946 and 1949, despite United accepting what would have been a British record transfer fee of £32,500 from Wednesday in February 1951. Hagan rejected the transfer and Wednesday were relegated to the Second Division.

He finally retired after playing against his former club - Derby County on September 14, 1957, having scored 117 league goals in 361 league matches. His testimonial game was played on March 10, 1958 between a Sheffield XI and an International XI.

The Manager

He started his managerial career with Peterborough United where he worked between 1958 and 1962. He joined West Bromwich Albion in 1963 leading the team to the English League Cup in 1966. Sliding fortunes in the season thereafter put an end to this assignment.

His greatest successes were with SL Benfica in Lisbon where he led the club between 1970 and 1973 to three successive Portuguese championships and once to the national cup, a record no coach has since been able to repeat at the helm of the Águias. In this period Benfica also attracted Europe-wide attention when the team reached the semi-finals of the European Cup of Champions, where the team was only narrowly defeated 0-1 on aggregate by the legendary Ajax of that era.

In 1972/73 Benfica became the only ever club in Portugal to last a whole season without defeat and won 28 matches - 23 consecutively - out of 30, and drew two. In that year Eusébio also became Europe's top scorer with 40 goals, in what was his penultimate season as a Benfica player. The team scored 101 goals, breaking 100 only for the second time in their history.

Jimmy Hagan separated from the club in September 1973 after an argument concerning the line-up for the testimonial match for Eusébio.

Eusébio, with whom Hagan enjoyed a lifelong friendship since those days, described the coach as "a strong disciplinarian".

"All the players thought his training schedules were too punishing and some were physically sick after the first training session. But after a while, they realised it was worth it as we started winning games. He gave us the extra strength and he is the reason Benfica won three successive championships."

In Lisbon he also managed Benfica's local rivals Sporting in the 1976/77 season.


  • Clarebrough, Denis (1989). Sheffield United F.C., The First 100 years. Sheffield United Football Club. ISBN 0-9508588-1-1.
  • Young, Percy A. (1962). Football in Sheffield. Stanley Paul & Co. Ltd ISBN 0-9506272-4-0.

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