Eugene O’Callaghan

Leicester City In 100 Players: Eugene O’Callaghan

In this series, Club Historian John Hutchinson reviews the careers of 100 of the most outstanding players to represent Leicester Fosse and Leicester City in the Club’s 138-year history.

We continue with Wales international inside-forward Eugene O’Callaghan, who starred for both Tottenham Hotspur and City in the 1920s and 1930s. 

Born in Ebbw Vale in 1906, he played his junior football for Victoria United and Ebbw Vale before signing as an amateur for Spurs in 1924, who then loaned him out to Barnet and to Northfleet United.

He signed professional forms at White Hart Lane in December 1926. He broke into the first team, replacing the injured England international and war hero Jimmy Seed and, in the next nine seasons, he went on to make 263 league and FA Cup appearances for the Londoners, scoring 98 goals.

One of these appearances was in the famous FA Cup match at Filbert Street in February 1928 when he scored twice in front of City’s biggest ever crowd of 47,298.

In 1933/34, he was a key member of the Spurs’ ‘Greyhound’ side, which was renowned for the speed of its passing and which finished third in the top flight.

City manager Arthur Lochhead signed O’Callaghan in March 1935 in an attempt to bolster his side which was in danger of relegation from the top flight. Unfortunately at the end of the season, both Leicester and Tottenham were relegated.

By this time, O’Callaghan had won 11 Wales caps, having played against Scotland and England four times each and three times against Northern Ireland. He turned down a 12 cap in October 1935 when he was selected to play against Scotland, so he could captain City (and score twice) in a 6-0 defeat of Doncaster Rovers.

For the next two and a half seasons, his clever play, his dash and flair, his accurate passing of the ball and his ability to shoot powerfully with either foot made him a crowd favourite.  

He was a key member of the Leicester side which won the Second Division title in 1937, scoring 15 goals in the league and two in the FA Cup.

In October 1937, having scored 30 goals in 89 appearances for City, O’Callaghan, now aged 31, joined Second Division side Fulham. The Cottagers’ new manager was Jack Peart, who had been O’Callaghan’s team-mate at Ebbw Vale thirteen years earlier.

The inside-forward stayed at Fulham as a player until 1946 before becoming their reserve team trainer for the next 10 years, during which time he also trained the Indian national football team for the 1948 London Olympic Games.

O’Callaghan died in London, aged 49, in July 1956.

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