Brennan James Seamus "Shay" Anthony
Born: Manchester 1937-05-06 Died: Waterford 2000-06-09
An Irish international, Shay Brennan, was thrust into the top level of English football early in his career by the 1958 Munich air disaster. He went on to become a fixture in the Manchester United side and was a member of the team that became the first England to capture the European Champions Cup.
Brennan was actually born in Manchester of Irish parents and joined United as an apprentice professional straight from school in 1953 and appeared in their F.A. Youth Cup-winning side two years later, as an inside-forward, although he was to establish his top class career as a right-back.
The Munich disaster meant that Brennan made his first team debut in the first match played by United after the tragedy in an unaccustomed position on the wing. He scored twice in a 3-0 win and scored again in the semi-final against Fulham. He missed out on place in the Cup Final as more senior players became available to United.
After that he returned to the reserves and did not begin to appear regularly for the senior side until 1959/60. He was again unlucky to miss a place in the F.A. Cup Final in 1963 when he played in the first four rounds but lost his place in the Final (which United won) to fellow Irishman, Tony Dunne, after missing the semi-final through injury.
However, he was by now a regular member of the first team when fit and he began to win major honours. In 164/5 he was ever-present in the Championship side and he won another Championship medal in 1966/7. The following season he played in the team that won the European Champions Cup by beating Benfica 4-1 at Wembley.
By now Shay was a regular international in the Republic of Ireland team, having qualified through the parentage ruling. He won 19 caps for his country and he moved to the Republic when he eventually left United in 1970. He was the first English born player to represent the Republic of Ireland. He had made 292 Football League appearances (3 goals), 36 F.A. Cup (3), 4 F.L. Cup (0), 24 Europe (0), 2 F.A. Charity Shield (0) and 1 World Club Cup (0) for a grand total of 359 appearances and 6 goals.
He became player-manager of Waterford - winning his last three international caps with the League of Ireland club. He settled in Waterford later running a parcels delivery service until going into semi-retirement following a heart bypass operation. In 1986, after he suffered his first heart attack, 10,000 people attended a testimonial match in Dublin between United and Shamrock Rovers. It was his second testimonial game that United had played for him. He also became the first player to receive a pension from the club.
As a player he was cool, constructive fullback. He was strong and brave in the tackle and having played in a variety of positions he read the game well.
In retirement he spent a lot of time playing golf and was passionate about the game. He died on the golf course at Tramore, Co Waterford.