Peter Sillett

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Peter Sillett
Personal information
Full name Richard Peter Tudor Sillett
Date of birth (1933-02-01)1 February 1933
Place of birth Southampton, England
Date of death 13 March 1998(1998-03-13) (aged 65)
Place of death Ashford, Kent, England
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)[1]
Playing position(s) Right-back
Youth career
1949–1950 Southampton
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1950–1953 Southampton 59 (4)
1953–1962 Chelsea 260 (29)
1962–1965 Guildford City
1965–1973 Ashford Town
Total 319 (33)
National team
1955 England U23 3 (0)
1955 England 3 (0)
1957 England B 1 (0)
Teams managed
1965–1973 Ashford Town
1979–1983 Hastings United
1985–1987 Ashford Town
1988–1992 Hastings Town
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Richard Peter Tudor Sillett (known as Peter Sillett)[2] (1 February 1933 – 13 March 1998) was an England footballer. He played for Chelsea and Southampton as a right-back, and made three appearances for England. He was the older brother of John Sillett, who managed Coventry City to FA Cup success in 1987. Sir Stanley Matthews once said that Sillett was the best full-back he ever played against.


Peter was the son of Charlie Sillett (who was a full-back with Southampton from 1931 to 1938) and inherited his father's skills.[1] He joined the Saints in January 1949 and soon afterwards gained England Youth recognition.

Extremely well-built, weighing over 13 stone when only 18, Sillett matured quickly into a full-back of some distinction.[1]

In 1953, while he was doing his National Service in the RAF he came up against Stanley Matthews when Saints took Blackpool, the eventual winners, to an FA Cup replay.

Unfortunately, Southampton were facing mounting debts and, with this fact known to many of the country's top clubs, it wasn't too long before Sillett, together with his younger brother John, was "induced" to join Ted Drake's Chelsea, for a fee of £12,000.[1]

In his two seasons at The Dell, he made 65 appearances in all competitions and scored four goals.[2]


Sillett signed for Chelsea in 1953 and became club's established full-back when fit. A strong defender with a powerful shot, he scored 34 goals for Chelsea, which made him the highest scoring defender in the club's history until being overtaken recently by John Terry, and is acclaimed for scoring what is widely perceived as the 1954–55 title-winning goal. During a match against Chelsea's principal rivals, Wolves on Easter Saturday 1955 in front of a crowd of 75,043, Chelsea were awarded a penalty with that game at 0–0 after Wolves captain Billy Wright had handled the ball in the penalty area. Sillett stepped up to take it and nervelessly smashed the ball past goalkeeper Bert Williams to give Chelsea a 1–0 win and complete a league double over Wolves, one of five goals he netted in the run-in. Chelsea went on to wrap up the title in their next home game, against Sheffield Wednesday.

Playing in London, Peter continued to attract rave notices and England Under-23 caps were followed by his first full international against France in May 1955. He also turned out for the representative London XI in the 1955-58 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup alongside Chelsea teammates Ken Armstrong, Derek Saunders and Jim Lewis, during which the side reached the final, though they lost on aggregate to FC Barcelona. Sillett captained the England under-23 side on four occasions in 1955 skippering teams that included Ronnie Clayton, Bobby Robson, Johnny Haines and Duncan Edwards. That same year saw Sillett play for a Great Britain side against a Rest Of Europe team to celebrate the Irish Football Association's 75th anniversary at Belfast's Windsor Park in a team that also comprised Danny Blanchflower, John Charles and Stanley Matthews.

Sillett was a cultured distributor of the ball,his positional play was astute and he was exceptionally cool under pressure but it was as one of the most explosively powerful dead ball kickers of his and any era that earns him most renown. Indeed, Peter was a menace anywhere within 40 yards of the opponents' goal and was the author of some of the most spectacular strikes ever seen at Stamford Bridge. In fact opponents' often used to place defensive "walls" even when Sillett struck free kicks from the halfway line such was his power and accuracy. Chelsea legend and captain of the 1954/5 championship winning side, Roy Bentley, described Peter Sillett as one of the greatest passers of a ball he has ever seen and the first man in the game that could regularly produce 100 yard passes direct to a teammate.

Sillett played the game rather like a Rolls Royce, there was nothing that was showy or flashy about him but his exceptional natural talent and quality shined to the discerning observer and those within the game. Technically superb Sillett was courted by Italian giants Juventus but turned down the move in typically laid back fashion by reportedly stating that Italy was "too bloody hot for football". Sillett's reputation in Italy remains undimmed however, as he is one of only sixty-one English defenders' to be rated on the inexhaustible Italian football website:

England and Wolves captain and legend Billy Wright once said to Peter's brother, John Sillett " If I was a 100 cap player, then so was Peter." At one point Sillett was hotly tipped to be a captain of the England senior side but perhaps it was Sillett's cool, relaxed and modest attitude to both life and the game, allied to the fact that he was universally regarded as a notoriously poor trainer, which stopped Peter Sillett doing justice to the huge talent which should have made him one of the giants of British football.

Sillett made a total of 288 appearances for Chelsea and remained at the club until June 1962, when new manager Tommy Docherty made a series of sweeping changes to the playing squad.


Sillett was also an England international, winning three caps in 1955,[3] and was in England's squad for the 1958 FIFA World Cup.

Later career[edit]

He moved to Guildford City[4] in 1962. From 1965 to 1973, Sillett was player-manager at Ashford Town[3] guiding the team to promotion - a feat he repeated in 1987 in his second spell as their manager. He also had two spells managing Hastings [3] achieving promotion on each occasion. Arthritis forced him to quit the game. Sillett's influence can still be felt at the very top of the English game when as Ashford Town manager he signed the current England manager Roy Hodgson as a player for the 1972–73 campaign.

In 1998, he died aged 65 after a long battle against cancer.




  1. ^ a b c d Holley, Duncan; Chalk, Gary (1992). The Alphabet of the Saints. ACL & Polar Publishing. p. 309. ISBN 0-9514862-3-3.
  2. ^ a b Holley, Duncan; Chalk, Gary (2003). In That Number – A post-war chronicle of Southampton FC. Hagiology Publishing. ISBN 0-9534-4743-X.
  3. ^ a b c Ponting, Ivan (16 March 1998). "Obituary: Peter Sillett". The Independent. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  4. ^
  • Player by Player – Peter Lovering – Guinness Publishing 1993 ISBN 0-85112-510-7
  • Stamford Bridge Legends – David Lane – Legends Publishing 2003 ISBN 0-9543682-3-1

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