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Raymond Ernest "Ray" Wood (11 June 1931 – 7 July 2002) was a Manchester United goalkeeper who played in the 1956 and 1957 championship-winning teams. Wood was a very fast player, he had the opportunity to be a professional sprinter but chose to play football, and was very agile. He played for England three times.

Playing career

Wood started his career as an amateur with Newcastle United, though he failed to make a first team appearance and moved to Darlington in 1949. He only stayed for three months though before joining Manchester United, making his first team debut against Newcastle at Old Traffordmarker in December 1949.

During the 1957 FA Cup final against Aston Villa, Wood was the victim of what was then a perfectly legal shoulder charge. In the sixth minute of the game Wood successfully claimed a cross; however, Villa outside-left Peter McParland clattered into him, breaking Wood's jaw due to him ducking to avoid the challenge. As this game was played in the era before substitutes Jackie Blanchflower was forced to play in goal following the incident, Wood eventually came back on after treatment to play as a forward, United went on to lose the game 2–1. His compensation for this was a Football League First Division title medal to add to the first medal he had gained a year earlier.

In December 1957, United signed Harry Gregg from Doncaster Rovers for £23,500 - the world record fee for a goalkeeper at the time - and Wood found his first-team opportunities limited.

Wood was among the survivors of the Munich air disastermarker on 6 February 1958, suffering minor injuries, but played just one first-team game afterwards and was later sold to Huddersfield Town one year later. He spent seven seasons at Huddersfield, playing more than 250 first-team games. He then played one season at Bradford City, before finishing his career with two seasons at Barnsley. During the early 1960s, Matt Busby unsuccessfully tried to re-sign him for Manchester United when Harry Gregg was injured.

Managerial career

He continued as a manager in several countries including United Statesmarker, Irelandmarker, Zambiamarker, Canadamarker, Greecemarker, Kenyamarker, Kuwaitmarker and United Arab Emiratesmarker. He coached Cyprus and Kenya national football teams. He also coached the NASL team Los Angeles Wolves and the Cypriotmarker team APOEL in 1971–72.

Personal life

Wood married his wife Elizabeth during the 1950s, before the Munich crash. They had two daughters, but the couple divorced during the 1970s. He died in 2002 aged 71 in Bexhill-on-Seamarker.


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