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Born in Natal, South Africa, Cuthbert Brisley was educated at Lancing College in West Sussex and - being a prodigious sporting talent - was in the 1st XI cricket and football teams for three straight years. 
From Lancing, Brisley went up to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge where he was quickly awarded a football blue, playing in the varsity match against Oxford in 1908/09, which ended in a draw.

Brisley, it was noted, was a player who attacked with real flair and, before even graduating, his performances for the university caught the eye of the  famous Corinthians. Making his debut on the tour of South Africa in 1907, Brisley scored against the South African national side in their 1-1 draw, aged just 21.

He scored goals all over the world with Corinthian FC, as the football missionaries toured to France, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, Canada and America, but it would be his heroics as part of the side that toured Brazil in 1910 that would write Cuthbert Brisley's name into Corinthian folklore forever.

The Corinthians that boarded the ship the RMS Amazon in August 1910 could have had no idea the legacy that their trip would have but - from the moment Brisley picked up the ball deep in his own half against Fluminense in the tours' opening game in Rio de Janeiro and dribbled his way downfield, scoring an incredible virtuoso goal - the Corinthians began to write an extraordinary chapter in the club's history.

Corinthian FC in Brazil, 1910. Brisley, sat bottom left, scored 6 goals in 6 games on tour.

Football was still a relatively new sport in Brazil. Few teams existed and only the elite in society played the sport. That was all to change. Playing games against Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro and a Brazilian national selection, the Corinthians wowed huge crowds that included many dignitaries. In São Paulo, they made a similar impression, playing Palmerias, Paulistano and the Sao Paulo Athletic Club. 
The club's game against Palmerias was even filmed and screened at a small São Paulo cinema to thousands of Brazilians who would queue around the block to watch these extraordinary sporting Englishmen. And the most entertaining of them all was Cuthbert Brisley.

For the final game of the tour, Brisley opened the scoring against Sao Paulo Athletic Club, in an 8-2 victory. After the game, 5 railway workers in the crowd were so inspired with what they'd seen, they decided to start a club of their own and decided to name the team Sport Clube Corinthians Paulista, in honour of the famous Englishmen. A wonderful tribute to  the English side - today that club is the largest professional team in South America, with over 30 million fans.

Tragically for Brisley, he was on the Brazil tour of 1914 as well which ended when the Corinthians heard of the outbreak of World War One. Like each of his team mates, he returned home to enlist immediately, and eventually becoming a pilot for the Royal Naval Air Service on the 14th July 1915, having played his last game of football for Corinthian FC in a charity match against the Aldershot Command.

He was promoted to Flight Lieutenant on the 1st January 1916 while stationed in the UK at Eastbourne and, after being posted to Mudros, Malta, Romania and Russia, he found himself in Petrograd on the 8th January 1917 on the eve of the Russian Revolution. He returned home and was promoted to Commanding Officer of No. 13 Training Depot Station, based at Tern Hill near Market Drayton.

Here, on the 13th of July 1918 he took off on a training flight with mechanic, Private Fred Lythgoe, as a passenger. While flying at a height of 6,000 feet the plane stalled on ascent and flipped backward, Brisley falling from the aircraft. Not being experienced enough to keep control of the aircraft, Lythgoe too was killed as it crashed in a ball of flames. Cuthbert Brisley's body was found some distance away from the crash site.

The Wellington Journal reported: "Shortly before midday on Tuesday, an aeroplane flying at a great height was observed to attempt to climb as if to loop the loop. The machine however appeared to slip sideways, then turn upside down and something was seen to fall from the machine. The aeroplane turned over once again and then descended to the earth at a tremendous speed with the engine full on and crashed into a field. A number of people working near rushed to the spot and found the machine a complete wreck with the body of an RAF mechanic lying nearby. In a field on the opposite side of the road and several hundred yards from the scene, the remains of an RAF Officer, Major C.E. Brisley (aged 32) were discovered.
Brisleys name on the Corinthian FC War Memorial at the National Football Museum, Manchester.

Major Brisley and Lythgoe were both strapped in the machine when they went up, but in witnesses opinion Major Brisley's belt was not tight enough. After the accident witnesses searched the debris and found Major Brisley’s belt still fastened, and his opinion was that Maj Brisley had slipped through the belt. Several witnesses described how they saw the pilot fall from the aeroplane when it turned over."

It would be the most tragic end for the man once thought of as being the finest player in the world. His legacy remains, however, since it was his performance, perhaps more than any other player, led to the Brazilian nation falling in love with the Beautiful Game and the formation of a club which today means so much to so many - two time FIFA World Club Champions, SC Corinthians Paulista. 

Cuthbert Brisley (standing second left) playing his final ever game, for Corinthians Under Arms vs. Aldershot Command, 1915.

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