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On This Day: 1920


12:08 31st January 2013

Happy Birthday Bert!

January 31 1920 saw the birth of one of the finest goalkeepers ever to represent both Wolves and England.

Bert Williams MBE - who turns 93 today - made over 400 appearances for Wolves, and won both the league title and FA Cup during his long spell at Molineux.

Born in Bilston, Williams began his career at Walsall. Despite standing at a relatively short 5'9, his subsequent appearances for club and country earned him the reputation as one of the best goalkeepers of his generation.

The early period of his career was curtailed by the outbreak of World War II, during which Williams joined the RAF as a Physical Training Instructor.

When the conflict was over, Wolves paid £3,500 for his services - immediately making him first choice goalkeeper at Molineux. His debut, against Arsenal in 1946, also saw the first game in gold and black for another Wolves great, Johnny Hancocks.

Under the management of Stan Cullis, the club was about the enter the most successful spell of its history, with the first major honour won by Wolves in over forty years coming in the shape of the 1949 FA Cup.

Williams lined up alongside the likes of Hancocks, Billy Wright and Jimmy Mullen as Wolves beat their East Midlands rivals 3-1 at Wembley.

International recognition soon followed, and Williams made his England debut later that same year, in a friendly against France. Another friendly display against Italy saw Italian journalists christen him 'Il Gattone' - The Cat - a nickname that stuck throughout his career.

He held on to the number one jersey throughout England's 1950 World Cup campaign - which was cut short due to the shock 1-0 defeat to the USA in the group stages.

In the 1953/1954 season, Williams played an integral role as Wolves clinched the league title for the first time in their history.

Marshalled by Williams, Wanderers' defence conceded the fewest goals in the top division as Cullis's team overhauled West Bromwich Albion to win the title by four points.

During the 1950s, Williams also played his part in some of the most famous matches in the club's history - the floodlit friendly victories over Honved, Spartak and Dynamo.

He retired in 1957, at the age of 37, having played 420 times for Wolves.

Williams was inducted into the Wolves Hall of Fame in 2010, the same year in which he was awarded an MBE for his services to football and charity work. 

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