We look back at the career of Chelsea, Man Utd and AC Milan great Ray Wilkins.
As England’s young hope of the late 1970’s Ray Wilkins went on to experience a distinguished international career as well as an illustrious club career around Europe.
Wilkins won 84 caps for England, scoring three goals and also captaining his country on occasion. At club level, he became Chelsea’s youngest ever captain at the age of 18 before big money moves to Manchester United and AC Milan.
Born in Hillingdon on 14 September 1956, he was described by many as a smart, classy player with pin-point vision, and his talents were noticed very early on as Ron Stuart drafted Wilkins in to the Chelsea first team in 1973 at the age of just 17.
In a crucial match at the end of that season, new manager Eddie McCreadie made the 18-year old Wilkins captain and, although Chelsea were relegated after defeat at Spurs, Wilkins in no way seemed over-awed in his new role.
He was Chelsea’s star of the next two seasons as the club strove to regain top flight status, and he earned his first England call up along the way in a friendly against Italy in New York in 1976.
Although Chelsea were promoted back to the First Division in 1977, Chelsea were relegated again the following season and Wilkins was in need of a big move, which came in the form of a £875,000 transfer to Manchester United.
It was here where Wilkins, now an established member of the England set-up having travelled to Spain for the 1982 World Cup, experienced his first silverware, helping United to the FA Cup in 1983 after a 4-0 replay win over Brighton.
Having made 160 appearances for United and scoring seven goals, Wilkins left for the continent in 1984 when AC Milan paid £1.5 million for his services. Although making 74 appearances over three seasons, Wilkins only scored twice and was also sent off for England at the 1986 World Cup against Morocco.
After a short spell in France with Paris St.Germain, Wilkins returned to Britain in 1987 and played an integral part in Glasgow Rangers’ resurgence in Scotland under Graeme Souness. By this stage, Wilkins’ England career had run its course, but he still considers the highlight of his career to be the superb volley he struck in a 5-1 victory against Old Firm rivals Celtic.
Wilkins finished his top level playing career back in West London with QPR, where he made 154 appearances, scoring seven goals between 1989 and 1994 before taking over as player-manager.
Although being relegated with the club in1996, Wilkins made a handful of playing appearances for a variety of British clubs before officially hanging up his boots in 1997 at the age of 41. He has since experienced coaching roles at Chelsea, Watford and Millwall.