NI legend in memorabilia sale to boost his pension
Northern Ireland and Manchester United legend Norman Whiteside is selling his football memorabilia in the hope of making up for the fortune he missed out on during his playing days.
In a nine-year career starting in 1982, Whiteside became the youngest man to play in a World Cup and the youngest to score in both League Cup and FA Cup finals.
Making his debut for Manchester United at 16, he was their youngest captain at 20 and was in two of their FA Cup-winning sides.
Now 55 and working as a podiatrist and in corporate hospitality at Old Trafford, Whiteside is selling his collection of career mementos - including his FA Cup winner's medals from 1983 and 1985 - at Ewbank's Auctions in Surrey on July 29. The auction is tipped to earn Whiteside at least £100,000.
He said: "No one's pressurised me to do it, but now I'm 55 I want to make sure that all my pension provisions are in place. 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 is clear from Whiteside's Manchester United contracts, also up for sale.
From 1982 to 1984, as one of their star players, his basic wage was just £250 a week, rising to £400 from 1986 to 1987.
By the time he left for Everton at the end of the 1980s his annual salary had risen to £60,000. That is the equivalent of about £125,000 today - less than what many top players now earn in a week.
Another document shows how FA Cup bonuses went from £300 for a third round win to £2,000 for the final.
The auction will feature medals, United shirts from both the 1983 League Cup final and 1985 FA Cup final, World Cup shirts and international caps.
A multitude of awards are also among the memorabilia directly linked to Whiteside, who won 38 caps for Northern Ireland and scored 68 goals in 278 league appearances, ending his career through injury at Everton in 1991.
Some of the lots on offer have been in the Manchester United museum for 30 years.
Whiteside added: "I thought it would be nice for the fans to have a chance to bid for something."
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.
Recalling his early days in Belfast, where he was the son of working-class parents, he said: "My mum and dad were very proud of what I did, but they were quite modest.
"Football is as popular as it is because it's a working-class game. The best Christmas present you could get was a football or a pair of boots.
"My mother bought my first pair of boots from the shoe club and was paying them off for years." By 15 Whiteside was leaving school early on a Friday to fly to Manchester United for weekend training. Training as a podiatrist after retiring from playing, he has also worked in the corporate hospitality department at Manchester United since 1994.
Other highlights of the auction 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 Northern Ireland World Cup shirts.
He has also added shirts he got in end-of-match swaps with other top players.
These include England shirts belonging to Ray Wilkins and Bryan Robson, Michel Platini's No 10 shirt for Juventus and a Brazil shirt.
"It's the most extraordinary and historic collection that ticks so many boxes," said Ewbank's specialist Alastair McCrea.
"Manchester United are the most iconic football team in the world and Norman Whiteside was the player of his generation.
"Having the chance to bid for any number of pieces in this consignment must be the ultimate dream for football fans and it's an honour - especially as a football-playing Northern Irishman myself - to handle this auction."