Vivian Woodward

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 2
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 2
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameVivian John•Woodward
Used nameVivian•Woodward
Born3 June 1879 in Kennington, Greater London, England (GBR)
Died31 January 1954 in Ealing, Greater London, England (GBR)
AffiliationsTottenham Hotspur, Tottenham (GBR) / Chelsea FC, Chelsea (GBR)
NOC Great Britain


Universally acknowledged as one of the greatest British centre-forwards, Vivian Woodward was born, appropriately, in a house overlooking Kennington Oval, the venue of the FA Cup final. After being educated at Ascham College, Clacton, he joined his father in his architect’s practice but later became a farmer. He played for Clacton, Harwich & Parkestone and Chelmsford before joining Tottenham Hotspur in 1902 when the club was a member of the Southern League. He was with Tottenham when, in 1908, they were elected to Division 2 of the Football League and scored their first ever goal in League football. With 19 goals in 27 matches he was Tottenham’s top scorer for the season and played a significant part in their immediate promotion to Division 1.

Woodward subsequently joined Chelsea who he helped regain First Division status in 1912. He stayed with Chelsea until the outbreak of the war, when he initially joined the Rifle Brigade but later became a captain the Footballer’s Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment. He was wounded in action early in 1916 and never played serious football again.

Vivian Woodward was a skilful solo dribbler, an intelligent distributor of the ball and could play in any of the three inside-forward positions with equal facility. The England selectors readily recognized his talents, awarding him 15 of his 23 full international caps while he was playing for a non-league club. He scored a total of 29 goals, which remained an England record until 1958 when both Tom Finney and Nat Lofthouse brought their international tally up to 30. Woodward twice scored four goals in a full international and achieved the hat trick on two other occasions. He also played in 44 amateur internationals – including the 1908 and 1912 Olympics – scoring a total of 58 goals. His finest performances came in England’s first amateur international against France in Paris in 1906, when he scored eight goals, and against Holland in 1909 when he scored six times. Woodward won his first Olympic gold medal while serving as a director of Tottenham Hotspur which most surely constitutes a record for a director of a Football League club. When he was on the winning Olympic team for the second time in Stockholm four years later he had already passed his 33rd birthday and he remains, to this day, the oldest footballer ever to win an Olympic gold medal. Vivian Woodward maintained his interest in football long after he ceased playing and was director of Chelsea from 1922 to 1930.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1908 Summer Olympics Football (Football) GBR Vivian Woodward
Football, Men (Olympic) Great Britain 1 Gold
1912 Summer Olympics Football (Football) GBR Vivian Woodward
Football, Men (Olympic) Great Britain 1 Gold