Playing over 600 games for Fulham and 56 times for England, Johnny Haynes was one of the great stars of the 1950s and 1960s. The left-footed Haynes was an inside forward of rare vision, famed for his long passing. His signature move was the diagonal through-ball, often delivered blind and on the turn, as if Haynes could sense the opening without having to see it.
The first £100-a-week footballer and one of the first to use an agent, he never won a single major honour as he spent his entire career with Fulham. For half his career he played with them in the 2nd Division and he received 32 of his International caps at that level, an indication of the value that England Manager Walter Winterbottom placed upon him. Captain of England on 22 occasions, he was at the heart of England’s historic 9-3 defeat of Scotland in 1960. In the same year he was voted Sportsman of the Year.
A precocious talent from an early age, he first caught the eye in an England Schoolboys win over Scotland at Wembley in 1950. Although Tottenham Hotspur wanted him, he opted to sign for Fulham because he felt he had a better chance of breaking into the first team. Making his Fulham debut in 1952, he was selected for England two years later, making him the first player to represent England at all five levels, from Schoolboy to Senior.
"Johnny was the greatest passer of a ball I’ve known" Alan Mullery
Haynes quickly emerged as a star both on and off the pitch. He took over from Dennis Compton as the face of Brylcreem, his smoothly oiled hair appearing on adverts across the country. His fame and regular selection for England did not endear him to all though and some in the North of England saw him as the South’s ‘golden boy.’
A serious car-crash at the age of 29 ended his England career in 1962 but after a year out of the game he came back to play for Fulham. He retired from English football in 1970. He died in 2005, aged 71.
His Fulham team mate Alan Mullery was in no doubt of his talent. ‘Johnny was the greatest passer of a ball I’ve known. He could lay it within six inches of a colleague. A yard wasn’t good enough for Johnny.’