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Dennis Sydney Viollet (20 September 1933 – 6 March 1999) was an Englishmarker footballer best remembered for his time with Manchester United in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Career

Viollet joined Manchester United on 1 September 1949. He came through the junior ranks at United and turned professional in 1950. His first game for the club came against arch-rivals Newcastle United on 11 April 1953. He is generally considered as one of the most underrated strikers of all time.

He was a striker, along with Tommy Taylor for the Busby Babes of the 1950s. He was a survivor of the Munich air disastermarker. Dennis was a big part of the two championships that were won by United in 1956 and 1957. Dennis scored 178 goals in 291 games for United. He was a lightning quick player, who combined well with Taylor's height to form a terrific strike force. After the Munich air disaster, Dennis proved his worth by scoring 32 goals in 36 games in 1960, a club record. It was during this season and the one following it that he received his two caps for England, in a defeat against Hungary and a victory over Luxembourg, in which he scored one goal.

In 1962, Matt Busby surprisingly sold 28-year-old Viollet to Stoke City for £25,000 after scoring 179 goals in 293 appearances for United. He joined a team being re-built by Tony Waddington, containing experienced players such as Stanley Matthews, and Jackie Mudie, and also emerging talent such as John Ritchie, and Eric Skeels. Although he joined Stoke as a striker, the majority of his appearances were as a midfield player. While at Stoke, he won a Second Division Championship medal in 1962-63 and a League Cup runners up medal in 1964, scoring in the second leg of the Final against Leicester City. In his time at Stoke he made 207 appearances (one as a substitute), and scored 66 goals. and was awarded a testimonial just before his retirement in 1967.

Shortly after leaving the Victoria Groundmarker, he came out of retirement to join NASL team Baltimore Bays in the United Statesmarker for a season.

On returning to the UK, he played for Witton Albion, before finishing his career at Linfield as player manager, leading them to win the Irish cup in 1970.

Once his playing career finished, he had spells coaching at Preston North End, and Crewe Alexandramarker briefly in 1971.

In 1978, Viollet was selected by his former United teammate, head coach Noel Cantwell, to serve as assistant coach of the New England Tea Men of the North American Soccer League. After three seasons in the Boston area, the team relocated to Jacksonville, Florida in 1981 where Viollet continued as assistant coach, ultimately becoming head coach, of the Jacksonville Tea Men of the NASL, ASL and United Soccer League. In 1990, Viollet took the reins of the Jacksonville Universitymarker Dolphins, where he stayed until 1995. Jacksonville University and their primary riveals, the University of North Florida, compete annually for the Dennis Viollet Cup. He then took the USISL Richmond Kickers to the 1995 American Double (USISL Premier League and US Open Cup titles). He stayed with Richmond for 2 seasons, then served as coach of the A-League Jacksonville Cyclones before his death from cancer on 6 March 1999, aged 65, in his adopted home of Jacksonvillemarker, Floridamarker. He had been ill for two years.

Honours

Viollet was inducted into the first class of the USL Hall of Fame in 2002. The annual University of North Florida/Jacksonville University soccer match has been contested for the Viollet Cup since 2001.

Private life

Dennis Violett's daughter, Rachel Violett, became the British number one ranked tennis player when she reached the second round of Wimbledon in 1996, and she lost in the first round in 2002. During her tennis career, she won one ITF singles tournament and one ITF doubles tournament.

References


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