James “Jimmy” Hagan was born on January 21, 1918 in Washington, County Durham, England. He was a football player and manager who left his mark on various clubs in England and Portugal. He comes from a football family since his father was also a footballer who played for the likes of Newcastle United and Tranmere Rovers.
From a very young age, Hagan proved to be a talented player who came to play for the England national team at youth level while playing for the Washington Colliery, his hometown club. From there he got the attention of Liverpool FC, although he would stay with the Reds for a short time before joining Derby County at age 15.
At 17 he would make his professional debut with the Rams although he would not have the opportunities he expected and in 1938 he went to Sheffield United where he would demonstrate his quality in his first season, helping to achieve promotion to the First Division. However, for the second season, World War II would begin and that would suspend professional football in England. Despite this, Hagan had participation in unofficial matches even with the England national team.
After the war, Hagan got a job as a surveyor so he continued to play football for Sheffield United on a part-time basis. He would continue with the Blades until the end of his career in 1958, with a few small stages in Derby County and Blackpool. That same year, he began his managerial career with Peterborough United.
With the Poshs he would have a 4-year period with the promotion to the Football League and later he would win Division 4, with a record of 134 goals in the same season, a mark that has not been beaten to date in the league. In 1963, Jimmy Hagan would be hired by West Bromwich Albion, where he would have good performances in the First Division during his four seasons at the club.
Additionally, they would win what has been the Baggies’ last major trophy to date, the 1966 League Cup where they fell in the first leg of the final 2-1 against West Ham United although in the second leg, West Brom would prevail at The Hawthorns with 4-1 score. In 1970, he would go to Portugal to coach SL Benfica one of the greats of the Portuguese country.
In Lisbon, he would manage to win the 3 Portuguese leagues that he coached in his 3 seasons with Benfica, leaving a great image by winning the 1972-73 edition undefeated. He would win the Portuguese Cup in 1972 in addition to doing good performances in the European Cup.
He was one of the managers with whom the legend Eusebio achieved some of his best seasons and with whom the Portuguese himself recognized that he had a good friendship with. Between the end of the 70s and the beginning of the 80s, he would continue to lead clubs such as Sporting Clube, Vitória Setúbal, Belenenses, Estoril Praia and Boavista in Portugal, with which he would win the 1979 Portuguese Cup. He passed away on February 26, 1998 at age 80.