Peter Shilton

Peter Leslie Shilton OBE (born 18 September 1949) is an English former footballer who played as a goalkeeper. He currently holds the record for playing more games for the England men's team than anyone else, earning 125 caps, and holds the all-time record for the most competitive appearances in world football – 1,390.[4][5][6] The IFFHS ranked Shilton among the top ten goalkeepers of the 20th century in 2000.[7]

Peter Shilton
Shilton in December 2008
Personal information
Full name Peter Leslie Shilton
Date of birth (1949-09-18) 18 September 1949
Place of birth Leicester, England
Height 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)[1]
Position(s) Goalkeeper
Youth career
1963–1966 Leicester City
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1966–1974 Leicester City 286 (1)
1974–1977 Stoke City 110 (0)
1977–1982 Nottingham Forest 202 (0)
1982–1987 Southampton 188 (0)
1987–1992 Derby County 175 (0)
1992–1995 Plymouth Argyle 34 (0)
1995 Wimbledon 0 (0)
1995 Bolton Wanderers 1 (0)
1995–1996 Coventry City 0 (0)
1996 West Ham United 0 (0)
1996–1997 Leyton Orient 9 (0)
Total 1005 (1)
National team
1968–1972 England U23 13 (0)
1970–1990 England[2][3] 125 (0)
Teams managed
1992–1995 Plymouth Argyle
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

His 30-year career included spells at 11 clubs and he had the distinction of playing over 100 league games for five clubs. During his time at Nottingham Forest, Shilton won many honours, including the First Division championship, two European Cups, a UEFA Super Cup, and the Football League Cup. He also represented England at UEFA Euro 1980, the 1982 FIFA World Cup, the 1986 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 1988 and the 1990 FIFA World Cup. He is worldwide known for being the goalkeeper who received the two goals of Diego Maradona in the quarter final of 1986 FIFA World Cup, "The hand of god" and "The goal of the century". Shilton did not make his World Cup finals debut until the age of 32, but he played in 17 finals matches and shares the record of 10 clean sheets in World Cup finals matches with French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez.[8]

Club career

Leicester City

Shilton was a 13-year-old pupil at King Richard III Boys School, Leicester, when he started training at schoolboy level with his local club Leicester City in 1963. He caught the eye of first-team goalkeeper Gordon Banks, who commented to the coach about how promising he was.

In May 1966, a 16-year-old Shilton made his debut for Leicester against Everton and his potential was quickly spotted to the extent that the Leicester City management sided with their teenage prodigy and soon sold World Cup winner Banks, to Stoke City. Shilton settled into first team life thereafter, even managing to score a goal at The Dell against Southampton in October 1967 direct from a clearance at the opposite end of the pitch. The Southampton goalkeeper, Campbell Forsyth, misjudged Shilton's long punt upfield, which, instead of splashing harmlessly in the mud, spun off the pitch and flew over Forsyth's head into the goal. Leicester won the game 5–1.[9]

The following season Leicester had a mixed season; suffering relegation from the First Division, but reaching the FA Cup Final at Wembley and a 19-year-old Shilton became one of the event's youngest-ever goalkeepers. It did not go his way, however, as a single goal from Manchester City's Neil Young early in the match was enough to win the game. Despite the many honours and accolades which were to come Shilton's way, he would not appear in an FA Cup Final again.

Stoke City

Shilton joined Stoke City in November 1974 for £325,000, a world record for a goalkeeper at that time.[10] Shilton played in 26 matches for Stoke in 1974–75 as they narrowly missed out on the league title.[10] He was an ever-present in 1975–76 playing in all of the club's 48 fixtures that season.[10] However, in January 1976 a severe storm caused considerable damage to the Victoria Ground and to pay for the repair work Stoke had to sell off their playing staff.[10] The summer of 1976 saw Manchester United lodge a bid for Shilton. Stoke agreed a fee of £275,000 for the goalkeeper, but they could not agree on Shilton's wage demands, which would have made him the highest paid player at the club.[11] He remained with Stoke in 1976–77 and a young and inexperienced side suffered relegation to the Second Division.[10] He was sold to Nottingham Forest in September 1977.[10]

Nottingham Forest

Nottingham Forest made an offer of £250,000[12] and Shilton signed a month into the new season. Forest had just been promoted to the First Division and were riding high under the management of Brian Clough. They won the League Cup in a replay after initially drawing with Liverpool at Wembley, though Shilton missed that as he was cup-tied, and then won the League title in their first season back in the first division. Shilton made a save in the clinching 0–0 draw against Coventry City which critics regarded among his greatest ever – a vicious close range header from Mick Ferguson seemed destined for the net with Shilton slightly out of position, but he got across to palm it over the bar. During the season as a whole, Shilton conceded just 18 goals in 37 league appearances.[13] Shilton subsequently won the PFA Players' Player of the Year award, voted for by his fellow professionals.

Forest won the League Cup again in 1979 – this time Shilton played as they defeated Southampton 3–2 at Wembley – before reaching the European Cup final where a Trevor Francis goal was enough to beat Swedish side Malmö in Munich. Shilton had another eventful season with Forest, reaching a third consecutive League Cup final, with Wolverhampton Wanderers the opponents at Wembley. There was no third successive victory, however, a communication error between Shilton and defender David Needham resulted in a collision on the edge of the Forest penalty area, leaving Andy Gray free to tap the ball into the net for the game's only goal.

Forest then reached the European Cup final again in 1980 – as holders they were entitled to defend the trophy and faced SV Hamburg in Madrid. Like the 1979 final, the game was tight and one goal settled it from Forest winger John Robertson. Among the disappointed Hamburg players was Keegan, now Shilton's captain at international level.

Life began to decline for Shilton afterwards. Forest failed to continue their trophy-winning form while Shilton began what would be a long-standing gambling addiction which would cause considerable strain to his family. There were also stories of an extramarital affair and a conviction for drink-driving, with the player fined £350 for the offence.[14] All of this contributed to Shilton's decision to leave Nottingham Forest in 1982 and start afresh.


Shilton left Forest for Southampton, where his former international teammates Keegan and Alan Ball were both playing. Shilton suffered FA Cup semi final defeat again when he was beaten by a last minute Adrian Heath header which gave Everton a place in the final.

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in March 1986 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at London's Waterloo Station[15]

Derby County

Shilton helped the Derby side of Mark Wright, Dean Saunders and Ted McMinn finish fifth in the league, and they only missed out on competing in the UEFA Cup due to the ban on English clubs in European competition (which ran from 1985 to 1990) arising from the Heysel disaster. In 1991, Derby were relegated and Shilton started to consider his playing future. He was 42 years old and was ready to become a coach or manager. In early 1991, he had rejected an offer to replace Stan Ternent as Hull City manager for geographical reasons.

Later career

He finally left Derby in February 1992 on accepting an offer to become player-manager of Plymouth Argyle – a turbulent era that is documented in the 2009 book, Peter Shilton's Nearly Men. Plymouth were battling against relegation in the Football League Second Division but Shilton's efforts were unable to save Plymouth from the drop. His £300,000 record signing Peter Swan proved to be a disaster as the player had an awful relationship with both his teammates and the fans.[16]

In 1994, he started to concentrate solely on management and Plymouth reached the Division Two play-offs, but lost in the semi finals to Burnley. In January 1994, he had been linked with Southampton for a possible return as manager following the departure of Ian Branfoot, but the job went to Alan Ball instead.[17] The following February, with Plymouth heading for relegation, he left the club and announced his intention to start playing again. He was now 45 years old.

He joined Wimbledon in the Premier League for a short period, as injury cover for the first choice goalkeeper Hans Segers, but did not play a first team game for them. He subsequently signed for Bolton Wanderers, making a couple of appearances, including the Division One play-off semi final against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux. Bolton lost 2–1, but eventually overcame Wolves in the second leg, Shilton however did not play in this game; Keith Branagan did instead. He then signed for Coventry City, where he failed to make a first-team appearance, before joining West Ham United, where again he never played a first-team game, although he was selected as a substitute on several occasions.

With 996 Football League matches to his name, Shilton was anxious to reach 1,000 and he did when he joined Leyton Orient in November 1996, in an exchange deal for 39-year-old Les Sealey. His thousandth League game came on 22 December 1996, against Brighton & Hove Albion, which was screened live on Sky Sports and was preceded by the presentation from the Football League of a special edition of the Guinness Book of Records to Shilton. He played five more matches before retiring on 1,005 league games at the age of 47 at the end of the 1996–97 season. By the time of his retirement, he was the fifth oldest player ever to have played in the Football League or Premier League. Shilton recovered from financial troubles caused by business decisions and gambling,[18] and became a prolific after-dinner speaker.

International career

Early career

Despite playing at a lower level, he impressed England manager Alf Ramsey sufficiently to give him his debut against East Germany in November 1970. England won 3–1. Little more than six months later, Leicester were promoted back to the First Division. His second England cap came in a goalless draw against Wales at Wembley; and his first competitive match for his country was his third appearance as England drew 1–1 with Switzerland in a qualifying game for the 1972 European Championships. At this stage, Banks was still England's first choice keeper, but the remaining brace of back-ups from the 1970 World Cup, Peter Bonetti and Alex Stepney, had been cast aside by Ramsey so Shilton could begin to regard himself as his country's number two goalkeeper at the age of 22. His fourth and fifth England caps came towards the end of 1972, before a tragic incident suddenly saw Shilton propelled into the limelight as England's number one keeper. In October 1972, Gordon Banks was involved in a car crash which resulted in the loss of the sight in one eye and thus ended his career. Liverpool goalkeeper Ray Clemence was called up to make his debut a month later for England's opening qualifier for the 1974 World Cup, (a 1–0 win over Wales). Shilton ended up with over 100 caps compared to Clemence's 61.

In the summer of 1973, Shilton kept three clean sheets as England defeated Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Against Scotland, Shilton made a right handed save diving to his left from Kenny Dalglish's shot that Shilton considered among his best saves. While drawing with Czechoslovakia earned Shilton his tenth cap – as a warm-up to a crucial World Cup qualifier against Poland in Chorzów a week later. This went badly for England, with Shilton unable to stop both goals in a 2–0 defeat and therefore making victory in the final qualifier, against the same opposition at Wembley four months later, a necessity if England were to make the finals. By now he and Ray Clemence were battling to be regarded as England's top goalkeeper, and each was given their share of caps. In 1975, however, Clemence seemed to be getting the edge, winning eight of the nine caps available under Don Revie, though England failed to reach the 1976 European Championships during this period.

Ron Greenwood started to select Shilton as regularly as Clemence, eventually reaching the stage where he made a point of alternating them, seemingly unable to choose. This indecision attracted some adverse comment, with some commentators questioning Greenwood's ability to manage at the highest level. Shilton then featured heavily as England qualified for the 1980 European Championships in Italy – their first tournament for a decade. Shilton had won his 30th England cap in a 2–0 win over Spain in March 1980; his 31st would not come until the European Championships themselves. It was a 1–0 defeat to Italy, which proved crucial as England failed to get through to the knockout phase.

1982 FIFA World Cup

In the midst of Shilton's issues, he had the matter of the 1982 World Cup to consider. Shilton had played in half of the qualifying games – wins over Norway, and Switzerland, a goalless draw against Romania, and a vital 1–0 win over Hungary. The latter was the last game of the campaign, and England had to win to qualify for the finals in Spain, leading to a potential repeat of the events against Poland in 1973. The result went England's way this time and they qualified for their first World Cup for a dozen years, with Shilton appearing in the finals for the first time at the comparatively mature age of 32.

Clemence had played in the friendlies building up to the competition, but it was Shilton who was selected for the opening group game against France in Bilbao. England won 3–1 and Shilton stayed in goal for the two remaining group games. That was sufficient to advance to the second phase.

UEFA Euro 1984 and 1986 FIFA World Cup qualifiers

With Bobby Robson now running the England team, Shilton's international career flourished, playing in Robson's first ten matches and even captaining the side in seven of them in the absence of Bryan Robson and Ray Wilkins. One game, a 2–0 win over Scotland, earned Shilton his 50th cap.

Clemence returned for a qualifier for the 1984 European Championships against Luxembourg, but this game, Clemence's 61st for his country, also proved to be his last.

England failed to qualify for the European Championships. However, he was now the established first pick goalkeeper for his country, and would remain so through to the end of his international career. Almost half his international caps (61 out of 125) were earned after his 35th birthday. It was 1985 before another goalkeeper was selected for an England game, when Robson could give a debut to the Manchester United goalkeeper Gary Bailey in a relatively unimportant friendly match. Shilton was still the keeper for the qualifying campaign for the 1986 World Cup, which thus far had seen three wins from three matches and no goals conceded.

A 70th cap came Shilton's way in a 1–0 defeat against Scotland at Hampden Park; he later saved a penalty from Andy Brehme as England beat West Germany 3–0 in a tour match in Mexico, a year before England were hoping to return there for the World Cup.

England accomplished going through the whole qualifying campaign undefeated. By the time they played Mexico in an acclimatisation match prior to the competition, Shilton was 80 games into his England career, having beaten Banks' record for a goalkeeper of 73 caps the previous year against Turkey.

1986 FIFA World Cup

At the World Cup itself, England started slowly, losing the opening group match to Portugal and then drawing against outsiders Morocco, during which time Robson was led off injured and Wilkins was sent off. In their absences, Shilton was handed the captaincy as England found their form to defeat Poland 3–0 in their final group game – Gary Lineker scored them all – and progress to the second round.

There they met Paraguay and though Shilton did have to make one fingertip save during the first half, England were rarely troubled. Lineker scored twice and Peter Beardsley once as England went through 3–0 and into a quarter final meeting with Argentina, a match which again would ultimately form part of the legend of Shilton's whole career.

Argentina captain Diego Maradona had been the man of the tournament thus far, but in a tight first half England managed to keep his creativity reasonably at bay. But early in the second half, Maradona changed the game, much to Shilton's anger.

Maradona began an attack which seemingly broke down on the edge of the England box as Steve Hodge got a foot to the ball. The ball was skewed back towards the penalty area and Maradona, continuing the run from his initial pass, went after it as Shilton came out to punch the ball clear. Maradona managed to punch the ball over Shilton and into the net. Shilton and his teammates signalled that Maradona had used his hand – a foul for any player except a goalkeeper – but the Tunisian referee Ali Bin Nasser allowed the goal. A photograph subsequently showed Maradona outjumping Shilton and his fist clearly making contact with the ball as Shilton was still midway through his own stretch, arm extended (having not anticipated Maradona's action). Maradona later said the goal was scored by the Hand of God. Nasser never refereed at such a high level again, having missed such a blatant infringement.

Shortly afterwards, Maradona scored a legitimate individual goal, taking on almost the whole England defence and Shilton before shooting into an empty net. In 2002, the goal was voted 'Goal of the Century' as part of the buildup to the 2002 FIFA World Cup tournament on the FIFA website. Lineker pulled one back and nearly equalised in the closing seconds, but England were out.

In 1987, Grandslam Entertainment released a computer game with the unsubtle title of Peter Shilton's Handball Maradona!.

UEFA Euro 1988

However, he continued to play for England, featuring in a straightforward and successful qualification campaign for the 1988 European Championships, which were to be held in West Germany.

Shilton had won his 90th cap for England in a 2–0 win over Northern Ireland in a European Championship qualifier.

Shilton's 99th cap came in a 1–0 defeat to the Republic of Ireland with Shilton beaten by an early Ray Houghton header. Shilton's 100th was against the Netherlands. Marco van Basten eliminated England from the tournament with a second half hat-trick as England lost 3–1. Robson left Shilton out of the third and final group game as it was now meaningless, but England still lost it, also 3–1. Chris Woods, longtime understudy to Shilton (and his teenage understudy a decade earlier at Forest – he had played in the League Cup final when Shilton was cup-tied) was given a rare game.

1990 FIFA World Cup

Shilton played in all bar one of the England games over the next 18 months – the one he missed saw a debut for a future England goalkeeping first choice, David Seaman of Queens Park Rangers. In June 1989, Shilton broke his old England skipper Bobby Moore's record of 108 appearances for his country when he won his 109th cap in a friendly against Denmark in Copenhagen. Prior to the match he was handed a framed England goalkeeper's jersey with '109' on the front. He had, by this time, kept three clean sheets in three qualifying matches for the 1990 World Cup and would ultimately concede no goals at all as England qualified for the tournament, to be held in Italy.

His 119th appearance for his country saw England draw 1–1 with the Republic of Ireland in the opening group game; England got through the group, beat Belgium 1–0 in the second round match, and then edged past Cameroon 3–2 in the quarter finals, thanks to two Lineker penalties after England went 2–1 down. Then came the West Germans in the semi finals, Shilton's 124th England game.

It was goalless at half time, but shortly after the restart Shilton was beaten by Andreas Brehme's deflected free kick that looped off Paul Parker's shin and dropped into the net over Shilton's head, despite his back pedalling attempts to tip the ball over. Lineker's late equaliser salvaged a draw for England but Shilton could not get close enough to any of the penalties taken by the Germans in the deciding shoot out, while England missed two of theirs and went out of the tournament.[19]

Shilton was the keeper for the third place play-off game, which ended in a 2–1 win for hosts Italy, Shilton suffering an embarrassing moment when he dithered over a back pass and was tackled by Roberto Baggio who scored as a result of Shilton's error.[20] It was his 125th appearance for his country and, after the tournament ended, he announced it would be his last. His final appearance came just four months before the 20th anniversary of his international debut, making his full international career one of the longest on record. He was never booked or sent off at full international level.[21]

Style of play

Considered by pundits to be one of the best goalkeepers in the world in his prime, as well as one of the best shot-stoppers of his generation, and as one of England's greatest players ever in his position, he is even being described by some in the media as one of the greatest keepers of all time. Shilton was an intelligent and efficient goalkeeper, who was regarded above all for his physical presence, handling, positional sense, composure and consistency, as well as his ability to communicate with his teammates, organise his defence, and inspire confidence in his back-line. He possessed significant physical strength, which made him an imposing presence in the area, despite not being the tallest of goalkeepers. Furthermore, he was known for his agility, and also possessed excellent reflexes, and good shot-stopping abilities. Known for his work-rate, mentality, discipline in training, and physical conditioning. He also stood out for his exceptional longevity throughout his career, which spanned four decades. He retired at the age of 47, having competed in over 1,000 professional matches.[22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36] However, he also drew criticism in the English media at times for his increasing lack of pace and agility with age in his later career, which along with his timing and relatively modest stature for a goalkeeper, is thought to have limited him when facing penalties, most noticeably in England's penalty shoot-out defeat to eventual champions West Germany in the 1990 World Cup semi-final; indeed, throughout his international career, his penalty–saving record was not particularly impressive, with his only save coming against Andreas Brehme of West Germany in 1985.[19][37]

Personal life

Shilton married Sue Flitcroft in September 1970,[1] and the couple have two sons, Michael and Sam, who later became a professional footballer.

In December 2011, it was announced that Shilton had split from his wife after 40 years of marriage.[38]

In March 2015, it was announced that Shilton was to marry his second wife, jazz singer Stephanie Hayward, the pair having got engaged in 2014.[39] The couple were married at the Parish of St Peter and St Paul Church in West Mersea, on 10 December 2016.[40]

Shilton was charged with drinking and driving in March 2013.[41] He was banned for 20 months and ordered to pay £1,020 costs.[42]

Shilton has expressed support of Britain's withdrawal from the European Union.[43]

In January 2020, Shilton revealed that he had overcome a 45-year gambling addiction with the help of his wife, Steph. Shilton was now working with the Government to raise awareness of associated issues including mental health problems.[44]

Career statistics



Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Other[A] Total
Leicester City 1965–66 First Division 1000000010
1966–67 First Division 4000000040
1967–68 First Division 351400000391
1968–69 First Division 420803000530
1969–70 Second Division 390507000510
1970–71 Second Division 400505000500
1971–72 First Division 370201020420
1972–73 First Division 410201030470
1973–74 First Division 420702040550
1974–75 First Division 5000100060
Total 2861330200903481
Stoke City 1974–75 First Division 250100000260
1975–76 First Division 420501000480
1976–77 First Division 400102000430
1977–78 Second Division 3000100040
Total 11007040001210
Nottingham Forest 1977–78 First Division 370600000430
1978–79 First Division 4203080100630
1979–80 First Division 42020100110650
1980–81 First Division 400603050540
1981–82 First Division 410105000470
Total 20201802602602720
Southampton 1982–83 First Division 390105020470
1983–84 First Division 420602000500
1984–85 First Division 410307020530
1985–86 First Division 370606030520
1986–87 First Division 290108020400
Total 1880170280902420
Derby County 1987–88 First Division 400102020450
1988–89 First Division 380303030470
1989–90 First Division 350205020440
1990–91 First Division 310105010380
1991–92 Second Division 310303000370
Total 1750100180802110
Plymouth Argyle 1991–92 Second Division 7000000070
1992–93 Second Division 230106020320
1993–94 Second Division 4000000040
Total 340106020430
Wimbledon 1994–95 Premier League 0000000000
Bolton Wanderers 1994–95 First Division 1000001020
Coventry City 1995–96 Premier League 0000000000
West Ham United 1995–96 Premier League 0000000000
Leyton Orient 1996–97 Third Division 90100000100
Career Total 10051870102055012491
A. ^ The "Other" column constitutes appearances and goals in the Anglo-Scottish Cup, European Cup, FA Charity Shield, Football League Trophy, Full Members Cup, Intercontinental Cup, Texaco Cup, Screen Sport Super Cup, UEFA Cup, UEFA Super Cup and Football League play-offs.



National teamYearAppsGoals
England 197010



Leicester City

  • Second Division: 1970–71
  • FA Charity Shield: 1971

Nottingham Forest

  • First Division: 1977–78
  • League Cup: 1978–79
  • FA Charity Shield: 1978
  • European Cup: 1978–79, 1979–80
  • European Super Cup: 1979




  • IOC European Footballer of the Season: 1979–80[47]
  • PFA First Division Team of the Year: 1974–75, 1977–78, 1978–79, 1979–80, 1980–81, 1981–82, 1982–83, 1983–84, 1984–85, 1985–86
  • PFA Team of the Century (1977–1996): 2007[48]
  • PFA Players' Player of the Year: 1977–78[49]
  • Nottingham Forest Player of the Season: 1981–82
  • Southampton Player of the Season: 1984–85, 1985–86
  • FWA Tribute Award: 1991
  • English Football Hall of Fame: Inducted 2002
  • Football League 100 Legends

See also

  • List of men's footballers with 100 or more international caps
  • List of men's footballers with the most official appearances


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