Patrick O’Connell was a superstar and a cheat. He was a superstar of soccer in Ireland, Britain and Spain and cheated on his family - marrying two women with the same name and same appearance.

Patrick, or Paddy O'Connell, played for Ireland in the early days of the national game and he led the country to its first Home Championships title in 1914. 

He was tall, broad-shouldered, good-looking and robust: he played the final game against Scotland with a broken arm. 

He was also an ace in league football. Manchester United paid £1,000 for him in 1914 – they had to pay the transfer fee in installments. But he was also captain of Manchester United when it was involved, with Liverpool, in one of the most notorious match-rigging scandals of the twentieth century, in 1915.  

Paddy married a Dublin woman, Ellen Treston, and she followed him to Manchester - they had four children. After WWI, Paddy's playing career petered out. He travelled around England and Scotland for a few years, working as a player/manager. 

He didn't bring his family with him and it soon became clear that, as well as chasing work, he was running away from his family.

They were left destitute and Ellen had to work as a cleaner to make ends meet. Meanwhile, Paddy's footballing career took off again when, in 1922, he went to Spain to manage Racing Santander.

Spanish soccer was in awe of the British game and managers from the British leagues were revered. Paddy earned that reverence; he had the Midas touch. In 1935, he brought minnows, Real Betis, to La Liga victory and, the following year, he brought FC Barcelona to the Spanish cup final where they lost 2-1 to Real Madrid.

1936 was also the year that the Spanish Civil War broke out.

Paddy was home on holiday at the time and FC Barcelona sent word that he didn't need to come back – Barcelona was in the middle of Anarchist massacres of priests and nuns.    

But Paddy decided to return to the war zone. Perhaps because of his passion for the game but also because he had a wife there, another Ellen - Ellen O'Callaghan, from Cork.

This Ellen, as well as having the same name as his first wife, and as well as being Irish, she also looked exactly like the first Ellen.

Paddy finally retired from football and went to live in Seville with Ellen O'Callaghan. Then, in the 1950s, his son, from his first marriage, Dan, decided to track Paddy down.

Paddy agreed to meet Dan when he came to Seville, but only in a public park and, if anyone asked, Dan was to say he was Paddy's 'nephew'.

Something happened during Dan's visit that Ellen found out who he was and discovered Paddy's secret.

Shortly afterwards, they split up and Paddy returned to England to live with his brother in London. He was 71 and penniless and died of pneumonia in 1959.

Both the Ellens died decades later, both in their 90s. Ellen O'Callaghan, his Seville wife, is buried in Midleton in Cork. On her headstone, her name is carved as “Ellen O'Connell”.

'The Man Who Played Offside' by Richard Fitzpatrick will also be broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 at 2pm on Saturday.