European soccer star dead at 91

Len Casey, a star for English soccer club Chelsea during the 1950s, has died at the age of 91.

The club announced the midfielder’s death on Tuesday. No cause of death was given.

At the time of his passing, Casey was the oldest-living former player for the London-based soccer powerhouse, which has won the domestic title six times and the pan-European championship twice.

Casey, who played for the team between 1954 and 1958, signed with the club fresh out of doing his national service with the British military.

In a 2021 interview, he described walking into the club’s offices in Stamford Bridge, Chelsea’s home stadium.

“Oh, it was wonderland, wasn’t it?” he recalls. “They had little offices when you went in, with ivy all over the walls.”

Among the signing bonuses? A new set of clothes.

Upon leaving the military, enlisted men were given a “demob” — or demobilization — suit, a cheap bit of civilian attire to make up for the fact their entire wardrobe was military clothing.

“I snatched their arm off!” he said about his first contract.

“One of the key things was they said, ‘We’ll give you a new suit,’ because I came out of national service with a demob suit! They said, ‘We’ll smarten you up a bit!’

“So I signed for a wage and a new suit.”

That said, Casey admitted he wasn’t exactly a shrewd negotiator when it came to the game he loved.

“I’d have signed for nothing,” he said, adding: “I wish I’d had an agent!”

Casey was a member of the Chelsea team that won the 1954-55 league championship, the squad’s first — although he admits it was a simpler game back then.

“I don’t know if we ever talked about tactics very much,” he recalled. “‘Get stuck in!’ Those were the words.”

In 1958, Casey was transferred to second-tier club Plymouth Argyle. After several more seasons with them, Casey retired and accepted a position with the General Electric Company as a staff training officer.

Ironically, while his time with G.E. was well out of the spotlight, he arguably had his greatest impact in that position.

Because of his work at G.E., Casey was awarded an MBE, or Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire — a prestigious national honor presented to him at Buckingham Palace by Queen Elizabeth II.

He maintains that wasn’t the high point of his life, however.

“Oh no, no!” he said when asked. “Football was.”