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OBITUARY: ‘Singing winger’ Colin Grainger’s career included two against Brazil on his England bow

obituary: The fastest broad man in English football loved John Lennon and thought Ringo Starr ‘stupid’ when he shared a bill with the Beatles… debut

  • Colin Grainger, known as the ‘singing winger’, has died aged 89
  • The winger played for Sunderland and Leeds from 1950 to 1978
  • Musician Grainger played with the Beatles and met John Lennon and Ringo Starr
  • Grainger scored twice on his England debut in a 4-2 win over Brazil in May 1956

You don’t deserve a nickname as the ‘singing winger’ without having had an eventful life and no one can say that Colin Grainger hasn’t lived his life to the fullest.

Grainger, who has passed away at the age of 89, was once the fastest wide man in English football, running down the wing for Sheffield United, Sunderland, Leeds and more. During his England debut, he scored twice against Brazil.

Yet it was his singing talent that led this West Yorkshire-born footballer to sign with the HMV record label.

Colin Grainger made more outings for Sunderland between 1957 and 1960 than any other club

Colin Grainger made more outings for Sunderland between 1957 and 1960 than any other club

Grainger (fourth from right) is to Sir Tom Finney's left in this photo from their service in England

Grainger (fourth from right) is to Sir Tom Finney’s left in this photo from their service in England

He also found success in this new career, even splitting the bill with the Beatles at shows in Stockport and Manchester in 1963 while a player for Port Vale.

Speak with sports post in 2019 about his colorful past, Grainger was brilliantly candid when he said: “I was in a dressing room with all four of me.

“I liked John Lennon. He somehow seemed down to earth. And Ringo, well, he was a bit of an idiot – he had a Dinky toy and he said “I’ve got a car, I’ve got a car”. I thought, “You stupid bastard”.’

The left winger collected seven caps for England, scoring twice against Brazil on his 1956 debut

The left winger collected seven caps for England, scoring twice against Brazil on his 1956 debut

An opportunity to tour with American band The Hilltoppers and earn £5,000 a year was turned down, although the maximum he could earn as a footballer was £20 a week. He loved being a left winger and winning seven caps for England.

Grainger instead saved his singing for the off-season and spent his summers touring to earn money.

After winning over fans with his football – and the arguably tougher critics of the working men’s clubs with his singing – he became a scout for Barnsley, Leeds and others.

Sheffield United were among those to pay tribute to Grainger, praising his incredible past that few footballers could compete with.

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