Leonard Francis "Len" Shackleton (3 May 1922 – 27 November 2000) was an English footballer. Known as the "Clown Prince of Soccer", he is generally regarded as one of English football's finest ever entertainers. He also played cricket in the Minor Counties for Northumberland.
Able to play at inside forward or outside forward, he scored 134 goals in 427 league and cup appearances in just over 11 seasons in the Football League, and before that scored 171 goals in league and cup 209 appearances during wartime football. His ball control skills made him one of the most talented players in the country, but his individualism and outspoken nature limited to only five England caps in a six-year international career. He also never won a trophy or league title.
Born in Bradford, he spent his teenage years before World War II with Bradford Park Avenue, Kippax United, Arsenal, Enfield, and London Paper Mills, before he turned professional at Bradford Park Avenue in 1940. He spent the war assembling aircraft radios and playing for Bradford PA, and was sold on to Second Division rivals Newcastle United for a £13,000 fee in October 1946. He scored six goals on his Newcastle debut, but fell out with the club's directors, and was sold on to Sunderland for a British transfer record fee of £20,050 in February 1948. He scored 97 goals in 320 First Division matches for the club, with the closest he came to a trophy being the 1949–50 season when Sunderland finished third in the league, and when they reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup in 1955 and in 1956. He retired due to an ankle injury in 1957, and became a sports journalist.Close