ANALYSING John Connelly's fabulous career, perhaps it's easy to consider Lancashire's flying winger as reasonably unlucky.

He missed out on two unforgettable days for both club and country - the day Burnley clinched the 1960 Division One Championship and, six years later, when England were crowned World Cup champions at Wembley.

But while rueful at the time, hearing and watching his team-mates grasp glory, Connelly has few regrets and insists to enjoying more than his fair share of luck during a colourful career that spanned three decades.

Looking back, the now 68-year-old admits his first lucky break came in 1956 at the age of 17 when, playing for home-town club St Helens Town, he was spotted by Burnley scouts who had intended to cast their eye on a different youngster.

Clarets manager Allan Brown swooped to offer the gifted teenager a month's trial, before later handing him his first professional contract.

"You need luck in football and I was really lucky to get my chance," revealed Connelly.

"I'd played just three games for St Helens Town, the third being at Barnoldswick against Rolls Royce.

"The Burnley scouts were there to watch another player, Micky Davock, who went to my school. But he went to Stockport.

"Albert Maddocks and Tommy Formby reported back to Allan Brown and the next minute, he came to St Helens to talk to my parents.

"From that, I decided to go for a trial at Burnley. I was quite lucky to be there at the right time."

Leaving his parents' home in Clock Face, Connelly switched to digs in Burnley town centre and was overwhelmed by the experience of linking up with a professional football club.

"When I arrived at Burnley, they put me up in the Sparrow Hawk Hotel," he added.

"I was taken to Gawthorpe and I'd never dreamed of what the set-up would be like and how professional footballers worked.

"Gawthorpe was unbelievable - five-a-side pitches, a shooting board, three full-size football pitches, sprinting tracks. That was all due to Bob Lord and Allan Brown, they were so forward thinking. I felt lucky to be involved. I knew then that Burnley was a great club "After the trial, Burnley said they wanted to sign me. The funny thing was, I just filled in an empty contract.

"They said, Just put your name down on that and we'll fill the rest of it'. That was Allan Brown.

"But in all fairness, he looked after me as things progressed.

"I started on six pound a week, and eight pound a week if you were playing in the reserves.

"I was pretty quick in progressing at Burnley, so my wage increased as things went on."

Originally on inside-left as a young teenager, it was Brown that spotted and initially developed Connelly's potential as a winger.

Connelly could beat full-backs on the outside and deliver exceptional crosses on the right.

But blessed with two good feet, he also had the gift to cut inside defenders and arrive in the penalty box, from where he scored a bucket-load of goals. In 265 appearances for the Clarets, he netted 105 goals, a staggering record for a wideman.

Connelly made his debut at 18 against Leeds at Elland Road - in one of John Charles' last games for the Yorkshire giants - and immediately thrived on the big occasion.

He said: "I loved it, I enjoyed it. The big crowds never bothered me.

"On my debut, Allan Brown went ballistic in the dressing room afterwards, because the Leeds full-back went right over the top of my leg and I needed a few stitches.

"I realised then that late tackles were part of football. I learned very quickly!"

Connelly added: "Towards the end of my first season, we went away on tour and Allan Brown told me to get a passport. But I'd never had a passport before in my life.

"The furthest I'd ever been was Blackpool, Southport and New Brighton. All of a sudden we were going abroad to a few different countries - such as Belgium and Germany."

Connelly made the winger position his own during the 1958/59 campaign and, the following Championship-winning season, in a team packed with young talent, he was Burnley's leading goalscorer with 20 league strikes.

He said: "When I eventually got into the team regularly, we started to win a lot of games.

"We had a real young side with a lot a young lads together - Jimmy Robson, John Angus, Adam Blacklaw, Alex Elder and Ray Pointer.

"They were fabulous times because we were all coming through together and we had a good understanding between one another."

Sadly, a knee injury forced Connelly to miss the run-in to the 1960 Championship and on the never-to-be-forgotten night Burnley lifted the title against Manchester City, he was forced to listen from his hospital bed.

And ironically, it was Connelly's wing deputy, Trevor Meredith, who etched his name into Clarets folklore with the winning goal in a 2-1 win at Maine Road.

"It was our best year but, unfortunately for me, I didn't get the glory," said Connelly.

"I missed the last four or five matches. I was in Victoria Hospital listening to our final match against Manchester City.

"That was worse than anything I've ever gone through. It was horrendous, because I could not do anything about it and Denis Law was on the other side, and you know he's not going to let you off the hook.

"Trevor Meredith - who was a lovely lad - got the winning goal and there's been a lot said about that winning goal.

"He got the glory for the game in my position. I happened to be leading goalscorer that season but that was only mentioned afterwards. But that's life and I was pleased for Trevor."

He added: "It's strange, but we did not make a meal out of winning the league "I can't speak for everyone, but at the time the young lads though We've won the league, but so what?' "We should have done more really in terms of celebrating, but winning the league then didn't seem to be as massive as it is now."