The one-eyed playmaker: Started at Arsenal, lifted Rangers from the bottom and is now a manager

The one-eyed playmaker: Started at Arsenal, lifted Rangers from the bottom and is now a manager

Dean Shiels is known for his keen eye for the game. The former Northern Irish midfielder has perfect peripheral vision, and the most interesting thing is that he achieves it with only one eye!

Sheels was born into a football family. His father, grandfather and two uncles are footballers and each played in Northern Ireland’s top flight. The boy has no choice but to follow in their footsteps.

However, when he was 8, he suffered an accident in which he injured his right eye. The retina is damaged to such an extent that even after five operations the vision in that eye cannot be restored.

However, this does not stop him from pursuing his dream. Even as a child, Dean was spotted by an Arsenal scout and was recruited into the Gunners’ academy. He never recorded a game for the first team, but in North London he laid the foundations of his football career.


The Northern Irishman successfully hid his “disability” until 2004, when he left Arsenal and moved to Scottish side Hibernian. Sheels immediately hinted at his potential and scored five goals in 37 games in his first season. In November 2005, he made his debut for the national team in a match against Portugal.

No one even suspects that the playmaker organizes the game of his team with only one eye. Everything seems perfectly normal, although he can see absolutely nothing with his right eye. At the beginning of 2006, however, it had to be removed. His teammates are shocked at how Dean has managed to not only play, but to hide from everyone that he is half blind.

Hibernians are giving Shiels huge support. Not only did they not terminate his contract, but they helped him recover from eye surgery, and a few months later, in April, the midfielder returned to the pitch with an artificial eye made of… coral. The artificial eye has no danger of falling off during a match, as it is made of natural materials, of a living organism, which attaches very easily to the eyeball. In 2007, Dean returned to the national team.

In 2009, Shield tried to return to England and signed with Doncaster, but two years later he was back in Scotland, where he dressed the team of Kilmarnock, where his father coached. There he won the Scottish Cup, giving three assists in one of the matches. At the end of the season, he was even nominated for player of the season.


Photo: Getty Images

After three years at Kilmarnock, he stayed in Scotland but left the elite division. The midfielder moved to Rangers, where he played for four seasons and helped the giants push off the bottom and return to the Premier League.

Subsequently, he became the champion of Ireland with Dundalk, with whom he also played in the Europa League tournament. He briefly crossed the ocean and played for the Canadian Edmonton. He ends his career in Northern Ireland in 2019.

Of course, when the fans find out that there is a “one-eyed” football player in the opposing team, there is no way to get away without jeers. Scotland’s Falkirk were even forced to apologize for the behavior of their supporters, who showered the pitch with artificial eyes as Sheels kicked for Dunfermline. And two footballers – Joe McKee and Kevin O’Hara – have been disqualified for a certain period for mocking Shiels.


Despite playing with one eye throughout his career, the midfielder managed to play 461 professional matches, scoring 90 goals and providing 48 assists. Not bad stats for the one-eyed playmaker, right?

Dean is now a coach. He works in his homeland, in charge of Dungannon, where last season they had to save themselves from relegation. In this one, the team does not start well again, not having earned a point in the first three rounds.

But if there’s one thing we’re sure of, it’s that Dean Shiels doesn’t give up easily, no matter what difficulties he faces.

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