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. He was famous as one of the Busby Babes and survived the Munich air disaster. After his retirement as player, he became a coach and spent most of his managerial career in the United States for various professional and school teams.
Viollet (front row, second from right) in a
Manchester United team photo in 1957
|Full name||Dennis Sydney Viollet|
|Date of birth||20 September 1933|
|Place of birth||Fallowfield, Manchester, Lancashire, England|
|Date of death||6 March 1999(aged 65)|
|Place of death||Jacksonville, Florida, United States|
|1978–1980||New England Tea Men (assistant)|
|1980–1982||Jacksonville Tea Men (assistant)|
|1983–1984||Jacksonville Tea Men|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
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 played a key role in the championship-winning teams of 1956 and 1957, which paved the way for United's first two campaigns in the European Cup, where they reached the semi-finals both times.
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 because Old Trafford had no floodlights until March 1957.
After recovering from a gashed head and facial injuries suffered in the Munich air disaster, Viollet returned to the United side before the end of that season, and with Tommy Taylor and Liam Whelan being among the fatalities, Viollet found himself playing alongside crash survivor Bobby Charlton and new signing Albert Quixall from the start of 1958–59 season.
He proved his worth by scoring 32 goals in 36 games in the 1959–60 season, a club record. 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.
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. 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. 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. 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. That win gave Stoke the impetus to embark on an unbeaten run of 18, ended by Leeds United on 15 December. 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. 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". Shortly after his death in March 1999 he was honoured by the club having a street near the Britannia Stadium named 'Dennis Viollet Avenue'.
Shortly after leaving the Victoria Ground, he came out of retirement to join NASL team Baltimore Bays in the United States for a season. 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.
Coaching career in the United StatesEdit
In 1974, Dennis Viollet became the first Head Coach for the Washington Diplomats of the NASL. 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. The Team Men won the ASL, bringing the City of Jacksonville its first ever professional sports championship. Viollet in 1985 coached the varsity boys soccer team at St. Johns Country Day School located in Orange Park, Florida. He also coached the Jacksonville Knights, a professional indoor soccer team, in 1989. 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.
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 Highbury, in which he scored in a 4–1 win over Luxembourg.
Viollet was born in Fallowfield, Manchester, in September 1933, the youngest of three children born to Charles Sydney Viollet (1890–1961) and Hannah Tomlinson (1893–1992); he had two older sisters, Vera (born 1917) and Audrey (born 1930). He grew up as a Manchester City supporter.
He married Barbara Mavis Southern at St Edmund's Church, Manchester, in 1951, when he was 17 years old. Their daughter Stephanie was born later that year, and they later had two sons, Roger (born 1957) and Malcolm (born 1961), and another daughter, Deborah (born 1958). They divorced in 1969, and in June that year, Viollet married Helen B. Greeph; they were married until his death nearly 30 years later. Their daughter Rachel (born 1972) became the British number one ranked tennis player when she reached the second round of Wimbledon in 1996. During her tennis career, she won one ITF singles tournament and one ITF doubles tournament.
In 2010, Viollet was inducted into the Washington, D.C. Soccer Hall of Fame. Viollet was also inducted into the first class of the United Soccer League 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.
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Other[A]||Total|
|Manchester United||1952–53||First Division||3||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||3||1|
|Stoke City||1961–62||Second Division||13||5||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||13||5|
|Crewe Alexandra||1 August 1971||1 November 1971||15||4||2||9||26.67|
- Matthews, Tony (1994). The Encyclopaedia of Stoke City. Lion Press. ISBN 0-9524151-0-0.
- Stoke City 101 Golden Greats. Desert Islands Books. 2002. ISBN 1-874287554.
- "Duncan Edwards A prodigious talent cut down in his prime". Daily Mirror. Archived from the original on 16 October 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
- "The tragedy of Munich Airport". thebusbybabes.com. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
- "Dennis Viollet". Manchester United F.C. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
- "England match data 1960–1964". englandfc.com. Archived from the original on 29 February 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
- "Career Bio". Dennis Viollet.com. Archived from the original on 7 April 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
- "Dennis Viollet". englandfootballonline.com. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
- Harris, Nick (26 June 2002). "Baltacha saves day as home players fall". The Independent. Retrieved 19 May 2008.
- Foster, Peter (26 June 2002). "Being on court is triumph for Busby babe's daughter". Telegraph.co.uk. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 19 May 2008.
- "Dennis Viollet". Manchester Evening News. MEN Media. 17 February 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
- Dennis Viollet at the English National Football Archive (subscription required)
- Viollet, Dennis at National-Football-Teams.com
| Manchester United captain