Manchester United needed a replay to beat Brighton and Hove Albion in the 1983 FA Cup Final. After a tense 2-2 draw in the first game, United breezed past their opponents 0-4 with Norman Whiteside scoring the second goal after half and hour. In doing so, Whiteside became the youngest player to score in an FA Cup Final at the age of only 18. He then went on to score the extra-time winner two years later in the 1985 Cup Final against Everton. But after his FA Cup exploits, what happened to Norman Whiteside?
Whiteside, nicknamed ‘The Scourge of the Scousers’, spent a total of seven years at Old Trafford and became a firm fans favourite. But when Ron Atkinson left the club in 1986 his replacement, Alex Ferguson, was less tolerant of the behaviour of some of his players and Whiteside’s drinking was a particular problem.
Whiteside moved to Everton in 1989 but injuries meant that he was never able to fulfil his potential and managed a mere 29 games in two seasons with the club. After 13 operations on his troublesome knee, Whiteside was advised to retire by doctors and at the age of only 26 he called it a day.
The two weeks following his retirement were difficult for the young man, but rather than sit around doing nothing, Whiteside went back to school. After spending a lot of time in the treatment room while at Old Trafford, then physio Jim McGregor inspired him to learn about anatomy. As a result, Whiteside attended Manchester and Salford Universities in order to earn himself GCSEs and A-Levels before finally achieving a BSc Honours degree in podiatry.
With the increasing concern over leg injuries in football, Whiteside was given a job by the PFA and has since worked free of charge with over 80 Football League sides. He works mostly with youth team players and seeks to diagnose and rectify problems before they become serious. Whiteside said of his work: “So often I see kids with shin splints, and by simply putting insoles into their boots I can solve the problem. The clubs that need me are the ones that can’t afford to have their own podiatrists, and because I’m employed by the PFA, they receive a free-of-charge service”.
Whiteside currently resides in Altrincham, is an accomplished after-dinner speaker and occasionally runs guided tours of Old Trafford.
Here’s a video of Whiteside’s 1985 FA winner: