His name may not trip off the tongue these days for younger fans, but Norman Whiteside can boast many achievements during a career reflected in the collection of football memorabilia he is now selling at Surrey auction house Ewbank’s on July 29.
The lots include his FA Cup winner’s medals from 1983 and 1985, United shirts from both the 1983 League Cup Final and 1985 FA Cup Final, as well as World Cup shirts and international caps from his 38 Northern Ireland appearances (nine goals).
Whiteside beat Pele’s record as the youngest World Cup player ever in NI’s 0-0 draw with Yugoslavia at the 1982 tournament in Spain. Aged 17 years and 41 days, he had played only two competitive games at club level by that point.
He scored 68 goals in 278 league appearances, ending his career through injury at Everton in 1991.
Securing his future
“No one’s pressurised me to do it, but now I’m turning 55 I want to make sure that all my pension provisions are in place,” says Whiteside. “I get a small pension from my footballing days, but we didn’t earn much in those days before the Premiership, so I want to put that together with what the auction will raise to secure the future.”
The chasm between football salaries then and the millions earned by Premier League players today as a result of TV rights is clear from Whiteside’s Manchester United contracts, also up for sale. From 1982 to 1984 as their star player, his basic wage was just £250 a week, rising to £400 from 1986 to 1987.
By the time he left the club for Everton at the end of the 1980s, his annual salary had risen to £60,000. That’s the equivalent of about £125,000 today, compared with an annual salary of £15m – or 120 times what Whiteside earned – for Paul Pogba, who plays in similar positions for the club. Another document showed FA Cup bonuses went from £300 for a second-round win to £2000 for the final.
Some of the lots that will be on offer have been in the Manchester United museum for 30-odd years.
Looking back on his career, Whiteside declares it “a bit surreal” when he thinks of all the firsts he achieved, but says his most cherished memories are his winning goal against Everton in extra time in the 1985 FA Cup Final and the spectacular winning goal against Arsenal at Villa Park in the 1983 FA Cup Semi-Final.
Arguably his greatest regret was the knee operation he underwent at the age of 16. He says: “They removed the cartilage, so I was playing bone on bone for 10 years.
"Around six months after I had the operation keyhole surgery started to be more widely used. If I’d had that instead, I would probably have been able to play for longer instead of having to retire through my knee injury at just 26 in June 1991 – and then I would have had the chance to play in the Premiership, which started in 1992.”
Trained as a podiatrist after retiring from playing, Whiteside has also worked in the corporate hospitality department at Manchester United since 1994.
Other highlights include a match ball and pair of boots from the 1985 FA Cup final, a Home International winner’s medal from 1984, a signed ball commemorating his FA Cup quarter final hat-trick against West Ham in 1985, Whiteside’s youngest ever World Cup player shirt from 1982 and a number of Northern Ireland World Cup shirts.