Dennis Viollet

Dennis Viollet
Personal information
Full name Dennis Sydney Viollet
Date of birth (1933-09-20)20 September 1933
Place of birth Fallowfield, Manchester, Lancashire, England
Date of death 6 March 1999(1999-03-06) (aged 65)
Place of death Jacksonville, Florida, United States
Playing position Inside forward
Youth career
1949–1953 Manchester United
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1953–1962 Manchester United 259 (159)
1962–1967 Stoke City 182 (59)
1967–1968 Baltimore Bays 34 (7)
1969 Witton Albion 8 (2)
1969–1970 Linfield 11 (5)
Total 494 (232)
National team
1960–1961 England 2 (1)
Teams managed
1971 Crewe Alexandra
1974–1977 Washington Diplomats
1978–1980 New England Tea Men (assistant)
1980–1982 Jacksonville Tea Men (assistant)
1983–1984 Jacksonville Tea Men
1990–1995 Jacksonville University
1995–1996 Richmond Kickers
1997–1999 Jacksonville Cyclones

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Dennis Sydney Viollet (20 September 1933 – 6 March 1999) was an English footballer who played for Manchester United and Stoke City as well as the England national team.[1][2]

Club career

Manchester United

Viollet joined Manchester United on 1 September 1949. He came through the junior ranks at United and turned professional in 1950. His first game for the club came against arch-rivals Newcastle United on 11 April 1953. He was a striker, along with Tommy Taylor for the Busby Babes of the 1950s. He was a survivor of the Munich air disaster. Viollet was a big part of the two championships that were won by United in 1956 and 1957. Dennis scored 178 goals in 291 games for United. He was a lightning quick player, who combined well with Taylor's height to form a terrific strike force. One of his finest games came on 26 September 1956, in United's European Cup preliminary round second leg tie against Belgian champions Anderlecht, in which he scored four goals in a 10–0 win at Maine Road.[3]

After recovering from a gashed head and facial injuries suffered in the Munich air disaster Viollet proved his worth by scoring 32 goals in 36 games in the 1959–60 season, a club record.[4] It was during this season and the one following it that he received his two caps for England, in a defeat against Hungary and a victory over Luxembourg, in which he scored one goal. In January 1962, Matt Busby surprisingly sold 28-year-old Viollet to Stoke City for £25,000 after scoring 179 goals in 293 appearances for United.[5]

Stoke City

He joined a team being re-built by Tony Waddington, containing experienced players such as Stanley Matthews, and Jackie Mudie and also emerging talent such as John Ritchie and Eric Skeels.[2] His signing was viewed as a coup for Stoke as at 28 Viollet was still in his prime although the press insisted he would just be another veteran playing out his final seasons at the Victoria Ground.[2] He made a decent start to his Stoke career scoring five goals towards the end of the 1961–62 season meaning that hopes were high for 1962–63.[2] While six games without a win heralded another poor start for Stoke, Viollet kick started Stoke's season with four goals against Charlton Athletic on 12 September.[2] That win gave Stoke the impetus to embark on an unbeaten run of 18, ended by Leeds United on 15 December.[2] The winter of 1962–63 saw no matches played for two months and once football resumed in March Stoke lost once in their next 13 matches and won the Second Division title with Viollet scoring 23 goals. With Stoke back in the First Division after a ten-year absence Waddington decided to move Viollet into midfield.[2] He played and scored in the 1964 Football League Cup Final as Stoke lost 4–3 to Leicester City. He continued to play for Stoke until the summer of 1967 when he announced his retirement after scoring 66 goals in 207 matches for the "Potters".[2] Shortly after his death in March 1999 he was honoured by the club having a street near the Britannia Stadium named 'Dennis Viollet Avenue'.[2]

Later career

Shortly after leaving the Victoria Ground, he came out of retirement to join NASL team Baltimore Bays in the United States for a season.[2] On returning to Britain, he played for non-league Witton Albion, before finishing his career at Linfield helping them to win the Irish cup in 1970. Once his playing career finished, he had spells coaching at Preston North End, and Crewe Alexandra briefly in 1971.[2]

Coaching career in the USA

In 1978, Viollet was selected by his former United teammate, head coach Noel Cantwell, to serve as assistant coach of the New England Tea Men of the North American Soccer League. After three seasons in the Boston area, the team relocated to Jacksonville, Florida in 1981 where Viollet continued as assistant coach, ultimately becoming head coach, of the Jacksonville Tea Men of the NASL, ASL and United Soccer League. Violet in 1987 coached the varsity boys soccer team at St. Johns Country Day School located in Orange Park, Florida. [St. Johns Country Day School] He also coached the Jacksonville Knights in 1989 a professional indoor soccer team. [Jacksonville Knights]In 1990, Viollet took the reins of the Jacksonville University Dolphins, where he stayed until 1995. Jacksonville University and their primary rivals, the University of North Florida, compete annually for the Dennis Viollet Cup. He then took the USISL Richmond Kickers to the 1995 American Double (USISL Premier League and US Open Cup titles). He stayed with Richmond for 2 seasons, then served as coach of the A-League Jacksonville Cyclones before his death from cancer on 6 March 1999, aged 65, in his adopted home of Jacksonville, Florida.[2]

International career

On 22 May 1960, at the end of his record-breaking season with Manchester United, Viollet won his first full England cap in a 2–0 friendly defeat to Hungary in Budapest. His second and final appearance came on 28 September 1961, in a qualifying game for the 1962 World Cup at Wembley Stadium, in which he scored in a 4–1 win over Luxembourg.[6]

Personal life

Dennis Viollet was born in Fallowfield, Manchester, in September 1933, the youngest of three children born to Charles Sydney Viollet (1890-1961) and Hannah Viollet (1893-1992); he had two older sisters, Vera (born 1917) and Audrey (born 1930). He grew up as a Manchester City supporter.[7]

He married Barbara Mavis Southern at St Edmund's Church, Manchester, in 1951. They divorced in 1969. Six months later, Dennis married Helen Greeph; they were married until his death nearly 30 years. Their daughter Rachel (born 1972) became the British number one ranked tennis player when she reached the second round of Wimbledon in 1996.[8][9] During her tennis career, she won one ITF singles tournament and one ITF doubles tournament.[10] Dennis also had four children with his first wife Barbara. Stephanie (born 1951), Roger (born 1957) Deborah (born 1958) and Malcolm (born 1961).

His death in March 1999 came after a two-year battle against cancer, with a brain tumour first being diagnosed during 1997, despite treatment and surgery during that time to combat the illness.[11]

He was portrayed by actor James David Julyan in the BBC film United about the Munich air disaster.[12]

In 2010, Viollet was inducted into the Washington, D.C. Soccer Hall of Fame. Viollet was also inducted into the first class of the USL Hall of Fame in 2002. The annual University of North Florida/Jacksonville University soccer match has been contested for the Viollet Cup since 2001. The Dennis Viollet Soccer Training Center was dedicated in 2006 and located at the Complete Soccer Academy in Longwood, Florida.

Career statistics

Playing career

Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Europe Other[A] Total
Manchester United 1952–53 First Division 310000000031
1953–54 First Division 2911100000003011
1954–55 First Division 3420300000003720
1955–56 First Division 3420110000003520
1956–57 First Division 2716500069113926
1957–58 First Division 2216330064103223
1958–59 First Division 3721100000003821
1959–60 First Division 3632300000003932
1960–61 First Division 2415100210002616
1961–62 First Division 13700000000137
Total 25915918421131321294178
Stoke City 1961–62 Second Division 13500000000135
1962–63 Second Division 3723101000003923
1963–64 First Division 3210326100004113
1964–65 First Division 3413323100004016
1965–66 First Division 32610510000377
1966–67 First Division 32210100000342
Total 1825994163000020766
Baltimore Bays 1967 NPSL 124124
1968 NASL 223223
Total 347347
Career Total 475225278184131321535251
A. ^ The "Other" column constitutes appearances and goals in the FA Charity Shield.

Managerial career

Team From To Record
G W D L Win %
Crewe Alexandra 1 August 1971 1 November 1971 15 4 2 9 26.67


Manchester United
Stoke City


  1. Matthews, Tony (1994). The Encyclopaedia of Stoke City. Lion Press. ISBN 0-9524151-0-0.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Stoke City 101 Golden Greats. Desert Islands Books. 2002. ISBN 1-874287554.
  3. "Duncan Edwards A prodigious talent cut down in his prime". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  4. "The tragedy of Munich Airport". Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  5. "Dennis Viollet". Manchester United F.C. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  6. "England match data 1960–1964". Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  7. "Career Bio". Dennis Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  8. Harris, Nick (26 June 2002). "Baltacha saves day as home players fall". The Independent. Retrieved 19 May 2008.
  9. Foster, Peter (26 June 2002). "Being on court is triumph for Busby babe's daughter". Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 19 May 2008.
  10. "BBC Two Programmes – United". BBC. April 2011. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Bill Foulkes
Manchester United captain
Succeeded by
Maurice Setters
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