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15 January 2019, 06:09
An FA Cup winner's medal given to a goalkeeper who suffered a career-ending injury a month before his team lifted the trophy is expected to fetch up to £6,000 at auction.
The rare medal was awarded to West Bromwich Albion's Norman Heath in 1954 - despite him missing his side's FA Cup final win due to severe neck injuries which forced his retirement from the game.
Heath, who made 121 appearances for Albion after making his debut in 1943, was injured in a league match at Sunderland four days after their 1954 FA Cup semi-final victory over Port Vale.
The Birmingham-made medal is being sold off next month along with Heath's Albion contracts and club letters, including one asking him to bring sandwiches to an away fixture in 1943.
Alistair Lofley, football valuer at Derbyshire-based Hansons Auctioneers, said: "This is the first time I've ever had the honour of selling an FA Cup final winner's medal. You don't see them often.
"This is an incredible find and one of the most important collections of memorabilia relating to one player that I've ever come across.
"For any keen collectors, the opportunity to own a genuine FA Cup final medal is the stuff of dreams - and the circumstances surrounding its presentation make it extra special."
Mr Lofley added that Heath, who died in 1983, was remembered with great fondness by his club and supporters.
"I don't think there can be a football fan in the land, or even the world, who could not be touched by his story," Mr Lofley said. "To suffer a career-ending injury just before an FA Cup final is the cruellest of blows.
"His memorabilia is a treasure trove of nostalgia and provides a historical record of a player's life in the 1940s - including the Second World War - and beyond."
(Picture: PA Images)