Irish former professional football player and manager

Date of Birth: 10 July 1956

Age: 68 years old

Zodiac sign: Cancer

Profession: Former footballer



Francis Anthony Stapleton is an Irish former professional football player and manager. He is best remembered for his time at Arsenal, Manchester United and as a pivotal player for the Republic of Ireland national team. He has also been manager at Bradford City and MLS club New England Revolution.

Playing career

Stapleton was a distinguished centre forward, once touted as being among the best in the world in his position, and an exceptionally strong header of the ball. He started his career with Arsenal, joining them in 1972 as an apprentice, after being turned down by Manchester United. He made his first-team debut in March 1975, at home to Stoke City, and would go on to form a potent striking partnership with Malcolm Macdonald; the two scored 46 goals between them in 1976–77. He was Arsenal's top scorer for the three following seasons, and helped the Gunners reach a trio of FA Cup finals; Stapleton scored one of the goals in Arsenal's 1979 FA Cup Final 3–2 win over Manchester United, and scored 108 goals in 300 appearances in total for the Gunners.

Stapleton went on to move to Manchester United in the summer of 1981 for £900,000 (a fee set by tribunal after the two clubs could not agree) as new manager Ron Atkinson began building a team capable of challenging for silverware after a disappointing 1980–81 season under Dave Sexton. He helped United win the 1983 and 1985 FA Cups. It was in the first of those finals, when he scored against Brighton, in which Stapleton made history by becoming the first man to score for two different clubs in FA Cup Finals. United finished in the top four of the league in each of Stapleton's first five seasons at Old Trafford, and came close to winning a league title medal in the 1985–86 season after United won their first ten league games of the season before their form slumped and they finished fourth. Atkinson was sacked and replaced by Alex Ferguson in November 1986, and Stapleton remained a regular member of the first team under the new manager, but soon after Brian McClair arrived at the club, Stapleton moved to Ajax on the recommendation of former team mate, Arnold Mühren in the summer of 1987. But the move failed to live up to expectations, as he made just six appearances and scored one goal against Dundalk in the Cup Winners Cup, before he made a short loan-spell at Belgian side Anderlecht at the end of 1987, without making a single performance. Stapleton then played on loan for three months with Derby County before heading to the European Championshipsin in 1988 as the captain of the Republic of Ireland side. He then played for French club Le Havre for a season, before returning to England again with Blackburn Rovers in 1989, followed by moves to Aldershot, Huddersfield Town (as player-coach) and Bradford City.

After three seasons as player-manager at Bradford, he was sacked following their narrow failure to qualify for the Division Two playoffs at the end of the 1993-94 season. He then had a brief spell at Brighton & Hove Albion in the 1994–95 season, playing two games before finally announcing his retirement as a player.


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Date of Birth: 10.07.1956. Age: 68. Zodiac sign: Cancer.
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