Sloan... Rabat’s player-coach of the 50s
Joshua Walter Sloan was born on April 30, 1920 in Lurgan, County Armagh.
He was undoubtedly one of the most noted Irish footballers and managers of his era. He was also one of the biggest names to come to Malta either as a player or a coach.
His widely-travelled career took Sloan to 20 different clubs in five different countries, including Northern Ireland, England, Italy, Malta and Australia.
As a player, his clubs included Manchester United, Arsenal and Milan. He was a dual Irish international footballer, playing for both Ireland teams.
Sloan started playing football with his local team Glenavon as a youth. Then in September 1937 he signed for Manchester United. However, he failed to break into the first team and on May 24, 1939, at the age of 19, he was transferred to Tranmere Rovers for a fee of £500.
He made his debut for the Rovers against Rotherham United on August 26, 1939. However, shortly afterwards, the Second World War broke out and Sloan joined the RAF.
During the war he made various guest appearances for a number of teams and attracted the attention of many clubs.
In fact, in May 1946 the midfielder was transferred to Arsenal.
Sloan made his league debut for the Gunners on August 31, 1946 in a 6-1 defeat to Wolves. During the subsequent 1946-47 season, he made 27 league appearances and scored one goal, establishing himself as a regular in the Arsenal team.
However, in the following season, Sloan lost his place to Archie Macaulay and he only made three league appearances. He played his last game for Arsenal against Portsmouth on October 4, 1947 before joining Sheffield United.
After only a brief spell with Sheffield United, Sloan joined Milan for the 1948-49 season becoming the first Irish footballer to play in Serie A and thus paving the way for the likes of Liam Brady and Robbie Keane.
Playing in a team that also included Gunnar Nordahl and Albert Gudmundsson, Sloan went on to score nine goals during the season. His goals helped Milan finish the campaign in third place behind Torino and Inter.
During subsequent seasons, he played for Torino, Udinese and Brescia, before returning to England and signing for Norwich City in December 1951.
Sloan continued to play football into the mid-1950s with, among others, Peterborough United, before joining Rabat FC of Malta as a player/coach in 1954.
He also had spells as player/coach with both Lockheed Leamington and Bath City before emigrating to Australia as a coach in the Victorian Premier League, first with South Melbourne Hellas and then with Brunswick Juventus. In 1964, he guided Hellas to the league title.
‘Paddy’ was a very popular figure among the Rabat supporters.
He was the second player-coach engaged by the Magpies following the short but successful engagement of Donald MacDonald the previous season.