Before Eric Cantona and Lee Martin, Jimmy Greenhoff and David Herd, there was Sandy Turnbull.
The United forward opened the scoring midway through the first half of the 1909 FA Cup final against Bristol City and it proved to be the only goal of the game, delivering the trophy to Old Trafford for the first time in the club’s history.
And so Turnbull became the first United player to score the winning goal in an FA Cup final, but his career was to become clouded in notoriety.
A classy inside forward, Turnbull left Scotland as an 18-year-old to sign for Manchester City in 1902. He was an instant success at City, helping secure the Second Division championship in his first season and following that with an FA Cup triumph the year after. But then disaster struck the Blues.
In 1905 City were found guilty of malpractice following an investigation into payments for players, and the entire squad was suspended.
City’s loss ultimately proved to be United’s gain, and when the ban was lifted on 31 December 1906 four of City’s key players - Turnbull, Herbert Burgess, Jimmy Bannister and the legendary Billy Meredith - moved across town to United and made their debuts the following day against Aston Villa.
Turnbull soon became as important to United as he was to City, and his goals shot Ernest Mangnall’s side to the 1908 and 1911 Football League championships, as well as that FA Cup in 1909. However, just before the First World War, Turnbull was one of several players implicated in a match-fixing scandal between United and Liverpool, and was banned from football for life.
Tragically, Turnbull was to be killed in battle, losing his life on 3 May 1917 in action in Arras, France while fighting for a company known as the ‘Footballers’ Battalion'.