History, Honours and Past Players 4 of 4

4. Famous Players

Probably the best known player to have played for Thatcham is Lawrie Sanchez

Sanchez was born in London to a Northern Irish mother and an Ecuadorian father, but when it came to selecting which country to represent at international level in his playing career, he chose Northern Ireland.

He only played for them three times, but his days as a player had one major highlight, when he scored the winning goal for Wimbledon's Crazy Gang as they shocked Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup final.

Having started out at Reading, he moved to Wimbledon in 1984 and also scored the goal that helped them win promotion to the First Division, playing for the Dons for a decade before moving to Swindon Town in 1994 and finished his career at Sligo Rovers as player-manager.

Upon retiring in 1995 he returned to Wimbledon as reserve team coach as he learned his trade, and in 1999 he took over at Wycombe Wanderers, who he led to the FA Cup semi-finals in 2001, only to be undone by Liverpool.

He left Wycombe in September 2003 for family reasons, but was soon back in football in January 2004 when he took over from Sammy McIllroy as manager of his adopted country Northern Ireland. He inherited a team struggling badly for form and most of all for goals, having not scored in international football since February 2002.

Two years on, in his first game in charge in February 2004, Sanchez at least managed to break that duck, with David Healy scoring in the 56th minute of an otherwise disappointing 4-1 home defeat to Norway. A month later, Sanchez managed to end an even longer run without a win since 2001, with Healy again scoring in a 1-0 victory in Estonia.

Over the course of the summer of 2004, the Irish found a new confidence, scoring in all of their games and beating St Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago. It took until September 2005 for Sanchez's team for record another victory in a World Cup 2006 qualifier over Azerbaijan, but only days later they managed one of their most famous results of all time, beating England 1-0 at Windsor Park, with Healy again the hero, though Sanchez won most of the plaudits.

September 2006 brought possibly an even more impressive result in a Euro 2008 qualifier against the star-studded Spain, who took the lead twice only to be beaten 3-2 by the Northern Irish team who were showing just how far they had progressed since Sanchez took over.

However, things did not work out at Fulham, despite Sanchez spending a lot of money in the summer of 2007 and bringing in many of his players from the Northern Ireland team. They struggled from the start of 2007/08 winning only two league games by mid-December and Sanchez left