Johnny Haynes achieved immortality in 1961 as the domestic game’s first £100-per-week footballer, but he should be remembered for the glittering skills that alerted Fulham to the 15-year-old Londoner’s wiles.
Haynes’ death in 2005 brought a spate of remarkable eulogies for a player who, said his England and Fulham team-mate George Cohen, “seldom put a foot wrong. He was the best ball-to-foot player I ever saw. If you compared him to Pelé, you won’t be far wrong.”
‘The Maestro’ had it all: stamina that allowed him to roam from front to back, a precise ability to win the ball and use it to killer effect and an ability to be in the right place at the right time, as shown by his goal-to-game ratio.
It was Haynes’ misfortune to be captain of England’s ill-starred 1962 World Cup campaign. He was man-marked out of the opening game, a 2-1 defeat by Hungary.
The team recovered to reach the quarter-finals, but lost 3-1 to Brazil. Haynes took most of the flak from the press. After a serious car crash that same year, he never played for England again.
Haynes only played club football for Fulham, making 594 League appearances between 1952 and 1969, scoring 146 goals.
The Stevenage Road stand at Craven Cottage was renamed in his honour, three years after his induction into the Football Hall of Fame.