Player #461

Appearances:

2

Starts:

2

Goals:

0

Seasons:

2

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Arthur Sabin

Position

Goalkeeper

From

1956-57

To

1957-58

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Arthur Sabin

Seasons Quick-View

Seasons

1956-57
1957-58

Age*

17
18

Division

D1
D1

Appearances

2
1
1

Starts

2
1
1

Substitute

0
0
0

Unused

0
0
0

Goals

0
0
0

*Age on opening day of the season

FAC: FA Cup; FL: Football League; D1: Division 1; D2: Division 2; D3: Division 3; PL: Premier League; CH: Championship

Arthur Henry Sabin

Birth Date

Wednesday, 25 January 1939

Birth Place

Kingstanding, Birmingham

Birth Country

England

Villa Youth

Aston Villa Youth |

From

Transfer in

Birmingham County FA

For

Free

On

January 1957

Previous Clubs

Aston Boys |
Birmingham County FA |

Loans Out

None

Transfer Out

To

Died

For

£0

On

March 1958

Subsequent Clubs

Died |

Villa Career

Seasons Active, Fee, Starts (Sub) | Goals |

1957 Aston Villa, Free, 2 | 0 |

Played Under

Eric Houghton |

First Squad Appearance

Saturday, 13 April 1957

Debut Appearance

Saturday, 13 April 1957

Sheffield Wednesday (h), Division One

First Goal

Did not score

Final Appearance

Saturday, 16 November 1957

Tottenham Hotspur (h), Division One

Final Squad Appearance

Saturday, 16 November 1957

Honours

Played for the Villa

Height

Foot

International Team

Not selected

Died

5 March 1958, Aged 19

Arthur Sabin

Player #461 for Aston Villa, Arthur Henry Sabin, played as a goalkeeper for the club.

Arthur played for Villa in 1956-57 and 1957-58 making 2 appearances however his legend is so much more than that.

Arthur was born in Kingstanding, just 3 miles from Villa Park, on 25 January 1939 and made his debut appearance for Villa on Saturday, 13 April 1957 aged just 18.

Villa had taken Arthur from youth football in June 1955 and he signed professional forms on 2 January 1957. Arthur was the 55th custodian of the Villa goal in professional football.

Arthur was earmarked as Villa’s latest superstar goalkeeper but tragedy would prevent him realising his potential and leading a decorated career with Villa.

Arthur’s ascendancy to the Villa first team at such a young age was no surprise to the footballing community in the local area - a football reporter described him as a quiet boy with the agility of a cat whilst to his Peckham Road school mates and teachers in Kingstanding, he was simply the best goalkeeper they had ever seen.

Misfortune was to hit Arthur almost as soon as he signed professional forms with Villa. On his 18th birthday, 25 January 1957, Arthur was playing for Villa’s third team against Bedworth United when, minutes into the second half, he was injured diving at the feet of an opposing forward.

For 19 agonising minutes Arthur lay motionless on the ground before being taken to the nearby Manor Hospital with a suspected broken neck. X-rays later showed he had escaped with a chipped vertebra.

Arthur’s resilience however saw him return to training just two months later. Indeed despite the set back Arthur, on April 13 1957, made his first-team debut in front of a crowd of 28,000 at Villa Park - keeping a clean sheet in the 5-0 drubbing of Sheffield Wednesday.

The contemporary match report in the Sports Argus for that game, described how - despite the apparent ease of the scoreline - Arthur had pulled off a succession of brilliant saves as Villa won 5-0, with two goals from Peter McParland - a feat he repeated at Wembley a few weeks later as Villa won the FA Cup. Nigel Sims was Villa’s first-choice ‘keeper at the time, and got the nod to play in the final ahead of Sabin.

Villa legend, Sims, said at the time: “I always know I have to stay on top of my form to keep a place in the first team. Once I go off, this lad Sabin will walk into my place.”

Arthur had to wait until November of the following season, 1957-58, to play his next Villa first team game during which he put in another excellent display as Villa drew 1-1 with Tottenham Hotspur.

Tragically that was to prove Arthur’s final game. Arthur was struck down with a mystery illness just after Christmas 1957, and taken into hospital on January 14 for observation. His condition was more serious than first thought. He was suffering from a kidney disease. Two specialists were called in, but still he failed to respond to treatment.

On March 5, 1958, Arthur died in Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth hospital. He was just 19. At his funeral, some of the Villa players who had graced the Wembley turf just 10 months earlier carried his coffin to church. Hundreds of fans turned out to pay tribute.

Paying tribute in the Birmingham Despatch, sports writer Dennis Shaw said Arthur “Bore the stamp of a future England goalkeeper. The loss to Aston Villa is tremendous”. And manager Eric Houghton remarked: “We have lost a fine young goalkeeper, a very good prospect. We are all depressed.”

School-mate Raymond Sturch later reminisced: “He was a very good player. Right from an early age there was something special about the way he kept goal. We won a few cups here and there with Arthur in our side.

“There was a slope at the Perry Hall Park pitches where we used to play. When it rained it would run down to the bottom of the pitch. We’d often end up playing in three inches of mud.

“I can also remember playing in a blizzard. Hail, rain or sunshine, we’d still turn out to play football.”

“It was tragic what happened to Arthur. I’ve never forgotten him.”

Arthur’s sister Janet Mancuso recalls the rough treatment he used to receive on the pitch:

“It was terribly sad. He was the kindest, most lovely person you could ever meet. He had kidney failure and, at that time, there was nothing I could do. We always thought it was caused by the kicks he received.”

In the 1950s, keepers were given a very rough ride by the opposition. Midlands sports fans knew they had lost a boy wonder.