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Stan Cullis


English centre-half who captained England before the Second World War.  It is as a manager, however, that he is best known.  Under his guidance, Wolves would challenge Manchester United as the major force in English football for more than a decade.

Born on 25 Ocotber 1916 at Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, Cullis was the youngest in a family of five boys and five girls.   At fourteen Cullis played for Ellesmere Port Wednesday.  In 1933, he had an unsuccessful trial with Bolton Wanderers but a year later signed for Wolves.  

Cullis won the first of his England caps in 1938.  He won a total of twelve caps and was made captain - then the youngest ever a 22 years 211 days - in what turned out to be England's last international before the war, against Romania in Bucharest in 1939.  That same year he  collected a runner-up medal in the FA Cup.   

After the war Cullis was appointed assistant manager of Wolves, and then manager in 1948.  Confident, determined and unsparing in his criticism of his players, his reign saw Wolves win the FA Cup in 1949 and in the League Championship in 1953, 1958 and 1959; a second FA Cup followed in 1960.

Cullis favoured a direct style of play based mainly on long passes to two great wingers, Johnny Hancocks and Jimmy Mullen.  The defence was also rock solid.  Cullis nurtured and developed many great players including Billy Wright, Bill Slater, Peter Broadbent, Eddie Clamp and Ron Flowers. They famously feared and respected their austere boss as the club enjoyed the most successful period in its history.

The 1960s saw Wolves begin to struggle as Cullis struggled to replace an ageing group of players.  By September 1964 they were near the bottom of the league and Cullis was sacked.  He swore he would never work in football again. After a short spell working as a sales representative, he did return to the game as manager of Birmingham City  in December 1965, but could not reproduce the success he had enjoyed at Wolves.

Cullis retired from football in March 1970, and worked for a sports management agency and later for a photographic firm in which he had invested.   He died on 28 Febuary 2001 at the age of 84.