Cleland, Lanarkshire born outside right Jimmy Delaney began his football career with Cleland St Mary’s and Stoneyburn Juniors and signed for Glasgow Celtic in September 1933, making his Scottish League debut in a 0-0 draw at Hearts in August 1934, and made 305 appearances for The Bhoys over the next 13 years, of which 145 were in wartime football. He was an undoubted factor in Celtic’s resurgence which saw them win two Scottish League Championships in 1936 and 1938, and The Scottish Cup in 1937.
The jewel in the crown though came with the capture of the Empire Exhibition Trophy in 1938. Held to mark Glasgow’s hosting of this prestigious event the tournament was viewed as an unofficial British Championship with an elegant model of the iconic Tait’s Tower the prize. Celtic defeated Sunderland and Hearts before taking the trophy with a 1-0 victory over Everton in the Hampden Park Final. Delaney was injured in the first game against the Roker Park side but returned for the Final where he turned in a typically dazzling performance.
He won his first Scotland cap in a 1-1 draw with Wales at Ninian Park in October 1935 and won another 14 caps until April 1948, scoring 6 times for his country. He won his last 6 caps as a Manchester United player. He also scored 3 goals in 6 matches for The Scottish League between 1936 and 1939.
Delaney suffered an horrific broken arm in a home game against Arbroath in April 1939 which kept him out of action for the next two years by when he returned to Second World War football, during which he also scored twice for Scotland in 3 unofficial wartime internationals in 1944 and 1945.
Having scored 73 goals in 160 Scottish League and Cup appearances for The Bhoys, Manchester United manager Matt Busby paid £4,000 for him in February 1946 and he made his Football League debut with the resumption of peacetime football in a First Division fixture against Grimsby Town in August that year. With Delaney in the team, United finished League Championship runners up in four of his five seasons at Old Trafford, and he helped Manchester United to win the FA Cup in 1948, when they beat Blackpool 4-2 in the Final at Wembley.
Aged 36, he returned to Scotland to play for Aberdeen for a £4,000 transfer fee in November 1950 after 28 goals in 184 appearances for United. He spent a year at Pittodrie where he scored 11 goals in 39 appearances, followed by two more years at Falkirk who had signed him for £3,500, scoring 20 goals in 40 appearances for The Bairns. In January 1954 Derry City paid £1,500 to sign him aged 39. In May 1955 he won the Irish Cup with Derry concluding a hat-trick of Cup wins in the Scottish, English and Irish versions. He moved to Cork Athletic in 1955, scoring 4 times in 14 appearances, and was only denied a foutth Cup winners medal when they lost the 1956 FA of Ireland Cup Final to Shamrock Rovers in extra time after they had been winning 2-0. He finished his extraordinary career at then Highland League club Elgin City the following season, retiring in April 1957.
On 15th November 2009 he was inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame.
His son Pat Delaney was also a footballer whose longest spell was with Motherwell, and his grandson John Kennedy played as a defender for Celtic, Norwich City and Scotland.