|Full name||Cornelius Franklin|
|Date of birth||24 January 1922|
|Place of birth||Shelton, Staffordshire, England|
|Date of death||9 February 1996 74)(aged|
|Place of death||Stoke-on-Trent, England|
|1950||Independiente Santa Fe||6||(1)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Cornelius "Neil" Franklin (24 January 1922 – 9 February 1996) was an English footballer who played for Crewe Alexandra, Hull City, Stockport County and Stoke City as well as the England national team.
Franklin was born in Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent and emerged from Stoke City's nursery club Stoke Old Boys.At 15 he won schoolboy international honours as a right half and signed professional forms with Stoke in January 1939. The outbreak of World War II soon gave opportunities to Stoke's apprentices and Franklin made his senior debut at the end of 1939–40, before volunteering with the Royal Air Force in February 1941. He converted to centre back due to the absence of Billy Mould and also took his place of captain. Franklin thrived in his new-found position and his positioning and tackling ability was described by the press as 'perfection'. Franklin helped remove the stereotype of centre backs as being just stoppers as he was very comfortable on the ball and earned his first England cap in February 1945. His goalkeeper Dennis Herod was often left frustrated by Franklin's genius. "He was a great player, but so unpredictable. If he was under pressure he would shout to me Dennis, come on and I would come out expecting him to give me the ball. Nine times out of ten he would do a u-turn and trot off up the field. It was like playing in a minefield. He didn't believe he could have a bad game and was the only one who didn't suffer with nerves."
Stoke narrowly missed out on their first league title in 1946–47 losing their must win match against Sheffield United 2–1.Stoke manager Bob McGrory was becoming frustrated with his side's best players, and after selling Stanley Matthews to Blackpool and his gripe soon turned to Franklin. McGrory wanted him to play the ball earlier rather than keep possession and be more physical in his defensive work which led him to handing the captaincy back to Mould. McGrory's campaign against him eventually led Franklin to announcing his intentions to leave Stoke in the summer of 1949. A world record bid of £30,000 from Hull City was mooted but the Stoke directors rejected Franklin's request and he re-signed four games into the 1949–50 season. However, he won a large bet of £250 which gave him the confidence to make an astonishing announcement to the football world. He declined a place in the England squad for the 1950 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, saying that his wife was due to give birth in the summer and he was to spend time playing in Colombia for Independiente Santa Fe.
Santa Fe's president, Luis Robledo, had studied at Cambridge and believed that high quality football could put an end to the country's civil war.Robledo also tempted Franklin's Stoke teammate George Mountford to join him in Bogotá. The pair were paid £60 per week plus a huge £2,000 signing-on fee, more than four times the maximum wage in England. England manager Walter Winterbottom tried to persuade him not to go but he ignored his request and left for Santa Fe on 8 May 1950. In Colombia they joined up with Manchester United's Charlie Mitten. Colombia had been expelled by FIFA for poaching players from around the world and the 'rebel' players were also banned by FIFA. On arriving in Colombia Franklin was full of bravado, saying that "We'll live finer than any footballers in the world." Despite a good start with Santa Fe, problems soon arose. A 6.30 pm curfew limited their ability to socialise, and his wife was struggling with the culture and unrest, so Franklin returned to England by August.
On his return to England Franklin faced the wrath of the Football Association and Stoke who suspended him indefinitely and then sold him to Hull City in February 1951 for £22,500.Damaged knee ligaments restricted Franklin's movement and he failed to reach his former high standards. In February 1956 he joined Crewe Alexandra and then ended his career with Stockport County and finally non-league Macclesfield Town.
In 1958 Franklin emigrated to New Zealand to become player-manager at Wellington Town.He returned to Europe in 1963 and managed APOEL in Cyprus where his time was cut short again due to civil war. He joined Colchester United in 1964 and got the club promoted in 1965–66, however relegation followed in 1967–68 and he was sacked.
Billy Wright, when selecting his Dream Team for the 50th Anniversary of the Footballer of the Year award, had no hesitation in selecting Neil Franklin:
Stanley Matthews also rated Franklin:
Tom Finney also selected Neil Franklin for his Dream Team:
In August 2019, the story of Neil Franklin's life and career was published in a book entitled England's Greatest Defender: The Untold Story of Neil Franklin by author Alfie Potts Harmer; the creator of the YouTube channel HITC Sevens.
|Independiente Santa Fe||1950–51||Categoría Primera A||6||1||0||0||6||1|
|Hull City||1950–51||Second Division||14||0||0||0||14||0|
|Crewe Alexandra||1955–56||Third Division North||13||3||1||0||14||3|
|1956–57||Third Division North||41||1||2||0||43||1|
|1957–58||Third Division North||12||0||0||0||12||0|
|Stockport County||1957–58||Third Division North||20||0||4||0||24||0|
|Macclesfield Town||1960–61||Cheshire League||13||1||0||0||13||1|
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