The biggest event in world football is kicking off now and Brentford history may be made. Henrik Dalsgaard is on the verge of becoming the first player contracted to Brentford FC to play at a World Cup after being named in the Denmark squad for the tournament. The 2018 FIFA World Cup is about to get underway in Russia as the hosts start the tournament against Saudi Arabia and Henrik’s historic moment could come on Saturday, 16 June, when Denmark face Peru.
But Henrik won’t be the first man with Brentford links to appear in the tournament. There have been more than a dozen players and managers to have featured in a World Cup in some way shape or form that have either been employed at Griffin Park before or after their momentous appearance. With thanks to Jonathan Burchill for his research, we are having a look at some of them.
On Monday we looked at six players that were part of England squads at World Cups and on Tuesday it was those that have represented other home nations in the tournament and also played for Brentford that were in the spotlight. Yesterday we investigated the seven players that have been involved in the competition for other nations. Finally, today, there are also those for whom their link to either Brentford or the World Cup is managerial.
We have been informed of one player with a Brentford connection that we missed in yesterday’s round-up, arguably the Bees player to have made the biggest contribution to the tournament. James Brown, known as Jim or Jimmy, played for the United States of America in the first World Cup in 1930. He appeared in three matches for his country, playing as they beat Belgium and Paraguay in the group stages. He then played in a World Cup Semi-Final and scored as USA lost to Argentina. A Scot by birth, he was on the books at Griffin Park during the 1935/36 season but only played one First Team game. That was probably the only dip in a celebrated career that included games for Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
As part of yesterday’s round-up we looked at Brian Turner, who has both a playing and coaching connection to the World Cup. He was in the New Zealand squad that reached the 1982 World Cup, their first appearance at the tournament. He was then in the coaching staff as they went back for the second time in 2010. The others on today’s list only have one link and all but one been involved in England World Cup campaigns.
The odd man out in that regard is Lee Carsley, who was a Republic of Ireland international. Carsley spent 14 months in West London after arriving in October 2014. He was initially Development Squad Manager and had a spell as Interim Head Coach in the autumn of 2015. During his spell in charge Brentford won five of ten games and he was named Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month for October. Carsley was in Ireland’s 2002 World Cup squad in Korea and Japan. He played one game as Ireland bowed out in the Second Round.
There are four other men with managerial links to either Brentford or the World Cup, some of the best-known names in football. Ray Lewington was on the coaching staff at Griffin Park from 1998 until 2001. He worked as a coach under Ron Noades and then took the helm in 2000. He led Brentford to the 2001 LDV Vans Trophy Final but left at the end of the 2000/01 season. He was assistant to England Manager Roy Hodgson for four years and went to the 2014 World Cup. That tournament was a disaster for England, they were knocked out after just two games and earned just one point.
Former Brentford player Ron Greenwood had a slightly more successful World Cup as England boss. He led The Three Lions to the 1982 tournament and they were unbeaten in five games but did not pick up enough points to make the Semi-Finals, bowing out in the Second Group Phase. Greenwood supported Brentford from the terraces and played for The Bees from 1949 until 1952, He played 142 league games for the Club before departing for Chelsea and captained Brentford before his departure. Greenwood managed England from 1977 until 1982 and was also West Ham United manager.
Another two men with Brentford links were part of Greenwood’s 1982 squad. Steve Coppell was Brentford Manager for just one season. He led The Bees in 2001/02 and almost earned promotion. Brentford finished third in the third tier that season, missing out thanks to a draw with Reading on the final day of the season when a win would have taken them up. He is best known for four spells in charge at Crystal Palace but earned 42 England caps, four of them at that tournament.
The final man on our list is one of England’s most celebrated players but had a Brentford career to forget. Terry Butcher won 77 caps and played in three World Cups. He was part of the England squad in 1982 and played in the 1986 Quarter-Final defeat to Argentina and then the Semi-Final loss to West Germany four years later. He appeared in 15 World Cup games for England overall, only Peter Shilton has played more. Butcher was appointed as Brentford Manager just after The Bees were relegated to the fourth tier in 2008. He lasted just over seven months in the job and Brentford won only five games when he was in charge.