England forward Robert Cunliffe Gosling was an Eton old boy from a large and wealthy family. He made five international appearances in the 1890s, scoring two goals, and captaining his country on at least one occasion. Gosling was described by FA secretary Frederick Wall as ‘the richest man who ever played football for England’.
Not only was he rich, he was handsome, too. His Corinthians club team-mate CB Fry said Gosling was ‘the best-looking man of my acquaintance’. Pioneering football journalist Jimmy Catton, meanwhile, described him as ‘the most aristocratic man I ever saw’, fitting well with the Corinthians’ reputation as a ‘team of toffs’.
Gosling may have been a gentleman, but he developed a tough reputation on the pitch. He was tall and strong, but quick, too, with noted dribbling and shooting skills. Gosling was also a first class cricketer, and away from sport he served as a Justice of the Peace. When he died in 1922, Gosling left behind a £700,000 fortune, worth the equivalent of around £15 million today.
Photo from Famous Footballers 1895-96.
This is an edited extract from the Victorian Football Miscellany.