Sunday's match at Old Trafford is the 65th anniversary of a truly remarkable ach
Sunday's match at Old Trafford is the 65th anniversary of a truly remarkable achievement - Willie Hall scored what is still the quickest ever international hat-trick...
English football history is littered with great players who did their country a great service but whose achievements, having come in an era before mass media coverage of football, are now consigned only to faint memory and the record books.
George William Hall, better known as Willie, was one such player. Between 1933 and 1939, Hall won ten caps for England, scoring nine goals - a strike rate that any modern day forward would be proud to have.
Having signed for Tottenham Hotspur from Notts County in December 1932 for a then-massive £2,500, Hall made his England debut against France in December 1933 at, appropriately enough, Spurs' White Hart Lane.
Five years and five further caps later came Hall's great moment. In a Home Championship match between England and Northern Ireland at Old Trafford on 16 November 1938 - exactly 65 years ago this Sunday - Hall scored three goals in three and a half minutes to register what is still the fastest ever hat-trick in international football.
His goals came after 36, 38 and 40 minutes and followed up Tommy Lawton's header on eight minutes. An inspired Hall then struck twice more after the break before Stanley Matthews finished things off with a goal fifteen minutes from time.
Not only is that hat-trick still a world record but Hall's five goals also equalled Steve Bloomer's 1896 record of the most goals in a match by a single player for the Three Lions. Malcolm Macdonald would become the third player to achieve five in a game 37 years later.
Hall 's career all but ended with the outbreak of the Second World War but in total he made 34 League appearances for Notts County, scoring seven times and 205 appearances for Tottenham, knocking in 27 goals.
George 'Willie' Hall died in the town of his birth, Newark, in May 1967.
England: V Woodley, W Morris, E Hapgood (c), C Willingham, S Cullis, J Mercer, S Matthews, G Hall, T Lawton, J Stephenson, J Smith
Northern Ireland: Twoomey, Hayes, Cook, Brolly, McMillen, Browne, Cochrane, Stevenson, Baird, Doherty, Brown
Goals: Lawton (8), Hall, (36, 38, 40, 55, 65), Matthews (75)
Referee: Peter Craigmoyle (Scotland)
Hall made his name at Notts County and, in the matchday programme for their FA Cup First Round tie against Shildon, the Magpies ran a great article all about the life and times of the player. For more, check out nottscountyfc.co.uk