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Sir Stanley Matthews Encyclopedia Article Find Print E-mail Blog It Sir Stanley Matthews (1915-2000), English soccer player, who played professionally at the top level until the age of 50. Matthews was born in Hanley. He made his debut at age 17 for the local First Division professional team, Stoke City. Two years later, he was selected to play for England. A right winger, Matthews was a master dribbler whose subtle body swerves, acceleration, and superb ball control unsettled virtually every defender he faced. At age 41, Matthews won the first-ever European Player of the Year award. In 1965 Matthews was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, becoming the first active soccer player ever to receive the honor. Widely respected as the perfect sportsman, Matthews was never cautioned by a referee throughout his 33-year career. More than 35,000 fans attended Matthews's retirement game in 1965. So many of the world's top players came to the game to honor Matthews that four teams formed and played a double-header.