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George Dunlop

The "Best Goalkeeper in Ireland" throughout the 1980s, George Dunlop was a long-time Northern Ireland squad member - with little return...

Name: George Dunlop
Born: 16 January 1956, Belfast
Height: 5.11 ft
Weight: 13.00 st
Position: Goalkeeper

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 4 Full Caps (1984-1989), Junior, 4 Schoolboy Caps (1971); Irish League: 14 Caps (1980-1989).
Club Honours: (with Ballymena) Co. Antrim Shield Winner 1975/76; (with Linfield) Irish League Champion 1978/79, 1979/80, 1981/82, 1982/83, 1983/84, 1984/85, 1985/86, 1986/87, 1988/89; Irish Cup Winner 1979/80, 1981/82, Runner-Up 1982/83, 1984, 85; Irish League Cup Winner 1986/87; Gold Cup Winner 1979/80, 1981/82, 1983/84, 1984/85, 1987/88, 1988/89, 1989/90; Ulster Cup Winner 1979/80, 1984/85; Co. Antrim Shield Winner 1980/81, 1981/82, 1982/83, 1983/84; Tyler All-Ireland Cup Winner 1980/81.

Club Career:

Man City


Ballymena U.


(Irish League B Division)


George Dunlop combined playing part-time football with Linfield and his work as a riveter at Shorts. He had had a chance in the English game when he was signed as a teenager by Manchester City. His only first-team involvement came as an unused sub for a UEFA Cup tie in Valencia in September 1972. Less than a year later Dunlop was allowed to leave Maine Road and he returned to the Irish League to join Glentoran. After a brief spell with Ballymena United he signed for Linfield in October 1977, where he spent a season and a half playing reserve team football before taking over from Ken Barclay.

In over a decade with Linfield, Dunlop played more than 500 games and won every honour the local game had to offer. In 1980 he was called up to the Northern Ireland squad for the first time, travelling to Australia for the Irish FA's Centenary Tour. He was a member of the Northern Ireland squad that went to the World Cup in Spain in 1982, but it wasn't until October 1984, against Israel, that he got a chance to add full international caps to the schoolboy caps he had won more than a decade earlier.

Despite not making into the squad for Mexico ’86 World Cup Finals it seemed that Dunlop was a likely successor to Pat Jennings and Jim Platt, but it wasn't to be. He added two further caps due to the injury suffered by Phil Hughes, against England and Yugoslavia in 1987, and had his final outing against the Republic of Ireland in 1989. The emergence of Allen McKnight, Paul Kee and Tommy Wright (who he had kept out of the Linfield side for a number of seasons) scuppered any ambitions Dunlop might have had of a long-term international career.

By now working as a police officer, Dunlop left Linfield to play for RUC in December 1990. He would return to senior football as Youth Development Officer then first-team coach at Bangor, before being appointed manager in April 2005.

Later, looking back on the ups-and-downs of combining international football with a full-time job, Dunlop would reminisce:
"I had to take unpaid leave to play internationals. We got a match fee which just about covered my loss of wages. We met up on a Sunday. If it was a home game I'd take three days off work and go back on Thursday. If it was an away game I'd normally go back on the Friday. After a home game I'd be back at work by a quarter to eight the next morning. My work was set out and I just had to get on with it. If you didn't have your work finished in time people would be asking you why. There were certainly no favours and no time to have a chat."

Torrans Trophy Winner 2014

Northern Ireland Cap Details:
16-10-1984 Israel...... H W 3-0 FR sub
01-04-1987 England..... H L 0-2 ECQ
29-04-1987 Yugoslavia.. H L 1-2 ECQ
11-10-1989 Rep. Ireland A L 0-3 WCQ

Summary: 3(1)/0. Won 1, Drew 0, Lost 3.

Northern Ireland Representative Appearance Details:
22-06-1980 West Australia A W 4-0 FR sub

Summary: 0(1)/0. Won 1, Drew 0, Lost 0.

Irish League Representative Appearance Details:
20-09-1980 Canada ............... A W 3-1
15-04-1981 League of Ireland .... A L 0-1
16-02-1982 OFK Belgrade ......... H D 3-3
30-10-1984 League of Ireland .... H W 4-0
17-03-1986 League of Ireland .... A L 1-2
17-03-1987 League of Ireland .... H W 2-1
10-08-1987 Manchester Utd F.C. .. H D 0-0
09-09-1987 Football League ...... H D 2-2
06-03-1989 Hibernian F.C. ....... A L 1-2
17-05-1989 League of Ireland..... A L 0-3
06-06-1989 Ft Lauderdale Strikers A L 2-5
09-06-1989 Penn Jersey........... A D 1-1
13-06-1989 Ruch Chorzow.......... A W 1-0
15-06-1989 USA .................. A L 0-1

Summary: 14/0. Won 4, Drew 4, Lost 6.

Happy 65th Birthday to Linfield legend George Dunlop 🎉🎉🎉 George, who played for the Irish League representative team...

Posted by Northern Ireland Football Museum on Saturday, 16 January 2021


Anonymous said…
if anyone has an email addy for george or his son grant can u let me know plz....i worked with kay his wife yrs ago and would like to get in touch ty
Grant Dunlop said…
Vladimir Vidas said…
Anybody have George Best picture from this match? Thanks