|Full name||James Christopher Armfield, CBE|
|Date of birth||21 September 1935|
|Place of birth||Denton, Lancashire
(now Greater Manchester), England
|Playing position||Right back (retired)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
James Christopher "Jimmy" Armfield, CBE, DL (born 21 September 1935 in Denton, Lancashire) is an English former professional football player and manager who currently works as a football pundit for BBC Radio Five Live. He played the whole of his Football League career at Blackpool, usually at right back. Between 1954 and 1971 he played 627 games in all competitions, scored six goals, and spent a decade as the club's captain. He also captained the England national team fifteen times.
After Armfield's family moved to Blackpool from Denton, he was spotted in a practice match at Bloomfield Road by then-Tangerines manager Joe Smith. Impressed, Smith offered him a trial. On 27 December 1954, Armfield made his Blackpool debut at Portsmouth.
He was part of the Blackpool side that finished in what is to date still the club's highest ever league position when they finished as First Division (then the top flight in England) runners-up in the 1955–56 season.
Armfield was voted Young Player of the Year in 1959. In 1966, he narrowly lost out to Bobby Charlton for the Footballer of the Year award and had to content himself with being Blackpool's Player of the Year. He endured little success in his seventeen years with the Seasiders, the club having won the FA Cup the year prior to his arrival. The exception was promotion to the First Division in 1969-70.
Armfield was awarded a testimonial match, played on 2 September 1970, his 35th birthday, and thousands turned out to pay tribute to him. He played his final game for Blackpool on 1 May 1971, in front of a crowd of over 30,000 against Manchester United at Bloomfield Road, in what would be the last game played by Blackpool (to date) in the top flight of English football. He came back from a ten-game injury lay-off to make his swan song appearance.
Armfield was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Bloomfield Road, when it was officially opened by him in April 2006. Organised by the Blackpool Supporters Association, Blackpool fans around the world voted on their all-time heroes. Five players from each decade are inducted; Armfield is in the 1960s.
Armfield won 43 caps for England between 1959 and 1966, and captained his country on fifteen occasions. He made his international debut on 13 May 1959, against Brazil in front of over 120,000 fans. He played in the 1962 World Cup in Chile, where he was acclaimed as "the best right-back in the world". He was also voted "best right-back in Europe" between 1962 and 1964. He was included in the 1966 World Cup-winning squad but missed out on the tournament through injury.
In the 1966 World Cup final only the 11 players on the pitch at the end of the 4-2 win over West Germany received medals. Following a Football Association led campaign to persuade FIFA to award medals to all the winners' squad members, Armfield was presented with his medal by Gordon Brown at a ceremony at 10 Downing Street on 10 June 2009.
On 4 October 1974 Armfield took the helm at Leeds United, leading them to the European Cup final in the 1974-1975 season where they lost 2-0 to Bayern Munich. Assisted by Don Howe, Armfield was responsible for rebuilding Don Revie's ageing but still formidable side, a task which he achieved with some success. Armfield bought in players such as Tony Currie and Brian Flynn, and under his stewardship Leeds never finished outside of the top ten, qualified for the UEFA Cup, and reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup in 1976–77 and the League Cup in 1977–78. However, the Leeds Board of directors were impatient for greater success, and Armfield was sacked at the end of the 1977-78 season on 3 July 1978 and replaced by Jock Stein, who only lasted as manager until October 1978.
Leeds was Armfield's final managerial role, and he decided to work in the media. He worked as a journalist with the Daily Express from 1979 to 1991. Currently he is best known as a match summariser for BBC Radio Five Live and this year marks his 30th year on the BBC. To mark the occasion, Jimmy picked his personal Top 5 Players from each decade he had been summarising and these were broadcast as part of the 2009 FA Cup build up on 30 May 2009.
He is also a consultant with the Football Association and in this role was responsible for the appointment of Terry Venables as England coach in 1994 and was also a key figure in Glen Hoddle's appointment two years later. In 2000 he was awarded an OBE for services to football and in 2004 he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of his home county of Lancashire. In 2005–2006 he served as High Sheriff of Lancashire.
Although born in Denton, Armfield has spent most of his life living in Blackpool, moving there in a World War II evacuation, and in 2003 he was awarded the freedom of the resort. In 2004 he released his autobiography, Right Back to the Beginning: The Autobiography, which was described in a book review in The Times as "Authoritative and engaging, but at the same time warm-hearted and kind, there is not a harsh word, and hardly a critical one, in it".
On 23 September 2005 he received a civic reception in Blackpool just after his 70th birthday on 21 September when a tangerine flag was flown from the town hall for the day in his honour.
On 11 May 2007, he announced on BBC Radio Lancashire that he had been undergoing chemotherapy treatment for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in his throat, and was being advised to rest by his doctors, but he remained positive about his future. On 22 September 2007, Armfield was the half-time guest at Blackpool's Championship home match against Colchester United. He received a standing ovation, and he thanked the Blackpool fans for their support, which, he said, helped him get through the recent dark days.
On 2 March 2008, Armfield was awarded the Outstanding Contribution honour at the Football League Awards ceremony in London. On 18 September 2008 Armfield was awarded a place in the football Hall of Fame at the National Football Museum in Preston, joining fellow former Seasiders Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortensen in the list of Blackpool players selected. The panel which consisted of Bobby Charlton, Tom Finney and Mark Lawrenson opted to induct Armfield. He was presented with the honour by former England teammate, Jimmy Greaves at the National Football Museum Hall of Fame Night, held in London.
In July, 2009, he was honoured by Tameside Council in Denton, where he was born, and was presented with a lifetime achievement award by Denton and Audenshaw District Assembly.
Armfield's son, John, was also a footballer, albeit to a less successful level. In October 1980, he signed associated schoolboy forms with Manchester United, but never made a professional appearance before going on to play non-league football for Runcorn, Barrow and Workington.
The South Stand at Bloomfield Road, which is due to open in March 2010 is named the "Jimmy Armfield South Stand" with ARMFIELD emblazoned on the seats.
On 30 October 2009, Blackpool F.C. announced that a life-size statue of Armfield was being commissioned by Blackpool Supporters Association. It will cost £100,000, with the money to be raised by a series of fund-raising events. The aim is to unveil the statue, which will be positioned outside the main entrance, behind the West Stand facing Seasiders Way, on his 75th birthday in September 2010.
"I feel quite humble about it and I must be honest I will be very proud to see it as I am with the stand, as Blackpool is my team and my town. It is nice to think that anything I have done has been appreciated, all people like to think that."—Armfield talking in October 2009 about the statue commissioned of him at Bloomfield Road
As a player
As a manager