Former Republic of Ireland international football star Noel Cantwell has died aged 73.

He had been suffering from ill-health for several years.

The Cork-born full-back, who guided Manchester United to the FA Cup in 1963, was a double international representing his country at both football and cricket.

Noel Euchuria Cornelious Cantwell played 36 times for his country and was captain for 22 of those games. He scored 13 goals for Ireland.

He made his debut against Luxembourg in October 1953 and made his final appearence for his country away to Turkey in February 1967.

Cantwell, from the Mardyke area of Cork City, began his career at Western Rovers before joining then top League of Ireland side Cork Athletic.

He was then spotted by West Ham and left for Upton Park at the age of 20.

He cost Manchester United £29,500 when he joined from West Ham United in November 1960.

Cantwell, signed by legendary United boss Matt Busby in the aftermath of the Munich air disaster, made 144 appearances for United and scored eight goals.

Cantwell stayed at Old Trafford for seven years, playing alongside the likes of Bobby Charlton and George Best, but played only four games as they won the 1967 League championship in his final season.

After ending his playing career, he moved into management with Coventry, resigning his post as chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association to take over at Highfield Road, and Peterborough before coaching in north America.

He then became a publican and settled in Peterborough.

A statement from the Football Association of Ireland expressed 'deep regret and sadness' at the death of Cantwell.

FAI chief executive John Delaney said: "Noel Cantwell was one of the great characters not only of football but of Irish sport in general.

"He was a great inspiration to those who played alongside him whether for club or country.

"On behalf of the FAI and the family of football in Ireland I extend sincere sympathy to Noel's family and friends. May he rest in peace."


Last year, Noel Cantwell featured on RTÉ Radio 1's 'Ireland's Soccer Top 20', produced and presented by Colm Keane.

Click below to listen to that programme