Joshua Walter Sloan,commonly referred to as Paddy Sloan, is a former Irish footballer and manager. His widely travelled career took Sloan to twenty different clubs in five different countries, including Northern Ireland, England, Italy, Malta and Australia. As a player his clubs included among others Manchester United, Arsenal and AC Milan. As an international, he also played for both Ireland teams - the IFA XI and the FAI XI. Sloan pioneered the way for the likes of Liam Brady and Robbie Keane by becoming the first Irishman to play in Serie A.
After initially playing for his local Lurgan team, Glenavon as a youth, Sloan signed for Manchester United in September 1937. However he failed to break into the United first team and on May 24 1939, at the age of 19, he was transferred to Tranmere Rovers for a fee of £500. During the Second World War, Sloan would return to United as a guest player. Between 1943 and 1945 he made 3 wartime league appearances and scored 1 goal for United. In May 1945 Sloan also played for United in both legs of the League North Cup final against Bolton Wanderers. However United lost the final 3-2 on aggregate.
Second World War
After signing for Tranmere Rovers, Sloan made his debut for the club against Rotherham United on August 26 1939. However, shortly afterwards the Second World War broke out and Sloan joined the RAF. He was subsequently stationed in Canada where he became a sergeant-pilot. Throughout the war, Sloan remained a Tranmere Rovers player and between 1939 and 1946 he made 22 wartime league appearances and scored 15 goals for the club.
However Sloan’s RAF duties took him all over the country and during the course of the war, he made frequent guest appearances for other clubs. He made 1 league appearance for Millwall during the 1942-43 season before then guesting for Manchester United. The 1944-45 season saw him make 11 league appearances and score 6 goals for Fulham. During the same season he also played regularly for Bath City and his 18 goals helped them win the League West Cup in 1945. During the 1945-46 season he made 6 league appearances and scored 4 goals for Brentford in the Football League South and then went to Germany on tour with the club. This had been without the consent of his parent club, Tranmere Rovers.
At the end of the Second World War, Tranmere Rovers were expecting Sloan to return to them. However his wartime guest appearances had attracted the interest of several clubs including Manchester United, his former club, and Arsenal. Sloan eventually walked out on Tranmere and in May 1946 signed for the latter club. He made his league debut for Arsenal on August 31 in a 6-1 defeat against Wolves. During the subsequent 1946-47 season he made 27 league appearances and scored 1 goal, establishing himself as a regular in the Arsenal team. He also played a further three games for the club in the FA Cup. However the following season, 1947-48, Sloan lost his place to Archie Macaulay and he only made 3 league appearances. He played his last game for Arsenal on October 4 1947 in a league game against Portsmouth. In February 1948 Sloan left Arsenal and signed for Sheffield United
After only a brief spell with Sheffield United, Sloan joined AC Milan for the 1948-49 season and as a result he became the first Irish footballer to play in Serie A. Playing in a team that also included Gunnar Nordahl and Albert Gudmundsson, Sloan went onto score 9 goals during the season. The first of these came on October 24 1948 when he scored the third goal in 3-1 home win against Triestina. On June 5 1949, in the final game of season he scored twice in a 3-2 win against Sampdoria. His goals helped AC Milan finish the season in third place behind Torino and Inter Milan. During subsequent seasons he played for Torino, Udinese and Brescia before returning to England and signing for Norwich City in December 1951.
When Sloan began his international career in 1945 there were, in effect, two Ireland teams, chosen by two rival associations. Both associations, the Northern Ireland - based IFA and the Republic of Ireland - based FAI claimed jurisdiction over the whole of Ireland and selected players from the whole island. As a result several notable Irish players from this era, including Sloan, played for both teams.
Between 1945 and 1947 Sloan made 3 appearances and scored 1 goal for the IFA XI. These include two Victory internationals played in 1945 and 1946. On September 15 1945 at Windsor Park he made his debut for the IFA XI in a 1-0 defeat against England. Then on May 4 1946 he scored the only goal of the game as the IFA XI defeated Wales 1-0 at Ninian Park. He made his last appearance for the IFA XI in a 2-1 win against Wales on April 16 1947. Sloan was a Tranmere Rovers player when he played the first two games for the IFA XI, but had transferred to Arsenal by the time he made his last appearance.
In 1946, while at Arsenal, Sloan also made 2 appearances and scored 1 goal for the FAI XI. He was one of several players born in Northern Ireland who benefited from the FAI’s attempts to establish their all-Ireland influence. In June 1946 when the FAI organised an Iberian tour, Sloan, together with Jackie Vernon, Billy McMillan and Jimmy McAlinden, was one of four Northern Irish players called up. Sloan subsequently played in both the 3-1 defeat to Portugal on June 16 and then scored the winner as he helped the FAI XI gain a surprise 1-0 victory against Spain on June 23.
Sloan continued to play football into the mid-1950s with, among others, Peterborough United, before joining Rabat F.C. of Malta as a player/coach in 1954. He also had spells as player/coach with both Lockheed Leamington and Bath City before emigrating to Australia as a coach in the Victorian Premier League, first with South Melbourne Hellas and then with Juventus. In 1964 he guided Hellas to the league title.