John Joseph Carey (born Dublin, Ireland February 23, 1919; died August 23, 1995), also known as Johnny Carey or Jackie Carey, was an Irish footballer and manager. As a player Carey spent most of his career at Manchester United where he was team captain from 1946 until he retired as a player in 1953. As an international, he played for and captained both Ireland teams - the FAI XI and the IFA XI. In 1947 he also captained a Europe XI which played a Great Britain XI at Hampden Park. In 1949 he was voted the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year and in the same year captained the FAI XI that defeated England 2–0 at Goodison Park, becoming the first non-UK team to beat England at home. Carey was also the first non-UK player and the first Irishman to captain a winning team in both an FA Cup Final and the First Division. Like his contemporary Con Martin, Carey was an extremely versatile footballer and played in nine different positions throughout his career. He even played in goal for United on one occasion.

Club Career

Early Years

As a schoolboy Carey played soccer for Home Farm. As a youth he also played Gaelic football and was selected to represent Dublin at minor level before he signed for St James's Gate at the start of the 1936-37 season. After just two months of League of Ireland football, he was spotted by Billy Behan, a Dublin-based Manchester United scout. Behan convinced the United chief scout, Louis Rocca, to check him out and in November 1936 United signed him for a then League of Ireland record fee of £250. He made his debut as an inside-left for United on September 23 1937 against Southampton. During his first season with United, Carey, together with Harry Baird, Jack Rowley, Tommy Breen and Stan Pearson, helped United gain promotion to the First Division.

Johnny Carey
Personal information
Full name John Joseph Carey
Date of birth February 23 1919
Place of birth    Dublin, Ireland
Playing position Defender / Midfielder / Forward
Youth clubs
Home Farm
Dublin GAA (gaelic football)
Senior clubs1
Years Club App (Gls)*
St James's Gate
Manchester United
→ Manchester City (guest)
→ Middlesbrough (guest)
→ Everton (guest)
→ Liverpool (guest)
Played in Italy
Manchester United

X (10)

X (7)   
National team2
Ireland (FAI)
Ireland (IFA)
Europe XI
27 (3)
9 (0)
1 (0)
Teams managed
Blackburn Rovers
Republic of Ireland
Leyton Orient
Nottingham Forest
Blackburn Rovers
1 Senior club appearances and goals
counted for the domestic league only and
correct as of May 1 2007.
2 National team caps and goals correct
as of May 1 2007.
* Appearances (Goals)

Second World War

During the Second World War, Carey continued to play for Manchester United and between 1939 and 1943 he played 112 games and scored 47 goals in the wartime regional leagues. He also played as a guest for several other clubs including Manchester City, Everton, Liverpool and Middlesbrough. He later served with the British Army in both Italy and the Middle East and while in Italy, he also played part-time for several different clubs using the nickname Cario. When the war ended Carey received several offers to stay on in Italy but chose instead to return to United.

Return to Manchester United

On his return to Manchester United, Carey began playing as a midfielder and defender. He was also appointed team captain by Matt Busby. He captained United to victory in the 1948 FA Cup final and to second place in the First Division four times before eventually winning the title in 1952. His team mates at United during this era included among others, Jack Rowley, Charlie Mitten and John Aston. During his career with United, Carey played 304 league games, scoring 17 goals. He played a further 38 games in the FA Cup and scored 1 further goal. Carey also played twice for United in the FA Charity Shield.

Irish international

When Carey began his international career in 1937 there were, in effect, two Ireland teams, chosen by two rival associations. Both associations, the Northern Ireland - based IFA and the Republic of Ireland - based FAI claimed jurisdiction over the whole of Ireland and selected players from the whole island. As a result several notable Irish players from this era, including Carey played for both teams. In September 1946 Carey even played for them within three days of each other, both times against England. On the 28th at Windsor Park he played for the IFA XI in a 7-2 defeat. Then on the 30th at Dalymount Park he played for the FAI XI in a 1-0 defeat.


Between 1937 and 1953 Carey made 29 appearances and scored 3 goals for the FAI XI, making his debut against Norway on November 7 1937 in a team that also included Jimmy Dunne and fellow debutant, Kevin O'Flanagan. The game which was a qualifier for the 1938 FIFA World Cup finished as a 3-3 draw. He scored his first goal for the FAI XI in a 3-2 win against Poland on November 13 1938 and scored his second in the very next game, a 2-2 draw with Hungary on March 19 1939. Carey captained the FAI XI on 19 occasions. On September 21 1949, he was captain when an FAI XI that included Con Martin and Peter Farrell, defeated England 2–0 at Goodison Park, becoming the first non-UK team to beat England at home. Carey scored his third goal, a penalty, for the FAI XI in a 2-2 draw with Norway on November 26 1950. He played his last game for the FAI XI on March 25 1953 in a 4-0 win over Austria.


Carey also made 9 appearances for the IFA XI between 1946 and 1949. In 1946 he played in the Victory Internationals against Scotland and Wales. On November 27 1946 he played for the IFA XI in a 0-0 draw with Scotland. He was one of seven players born in what is now the Republic of Ireland, to play for the IFA XI that day. The draw helped the team finish as runners-up in the British Home Championship in 1947.

Coaching Career

Carey retired as a player in 1953 and almost immediately accepted the position as manager of Blackburn Rovers. In 1958 he guided Rovers into First Division. He then became manager at Everton but, despite leading them to fifth place in the 1960-61 season, their highest post-war position, he was infamously sacked in the back of a taxi by director John Moores. He next managed Leyton Orient and took them into the First Division in 1962, their only season in the top division. However his greatest success as a manager came with Nottingham Forest. In 1967 he guided them to the FA Cup semi-finals and to second place in the First Division. Between 1955 and 1967 Carey also served as team manager of the Republic of Ireland. However Carey had very little power as the team itself was chosen by a selection committee.



Manchester United

  • FA Cup
    • Winners 1948: 1
  • First Division
    • Winners 1951-52: 1
    • Runners Up 1946-47, 1947-48, 1948-49, 1950-51: 4
  • FA Charity Shield
    • Winners 1952: 1
    • Runners Up 1948: 1
  • Second Division
    • Runners Up 1937-38: 1


  • British Home Championship
    • Runners Up 1946-47


Blackburn Rovers

  • Second Division
    • Runners Up 1957-58: 1

Leyton Orient

  • Second Division
    • Runners Up 1961-62: 1

Nottingham Forest

  • First Division
    • Runners Up 1966-67: 1
Preceded by
Stanley Matthews
Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year
Succeeded by
Joe Mercer
Preceded by
Jackie Bestall
Blackburn Rovers F.C. Manager
Succeeded by
Dally Duncan
Preceded by
Eddie Quigley
Blackburn Rovers F.C. Manager
Succeeded by
Ken Furphy


  • The Boys In Green - The FAI International Story (1997): Sean Ryan [1]
  • Soccer at War – 1939 - 45 (2005): Jack Rollin [2]
  • Who’s Who Of Everton (2004): Tony Matthews [3]
  • Who’s Who Of Liverpool (2006): Tony Matthews [4]

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