Born in Greenock in 1873, Harry Rennie is one of the few players to have gained international honours both as an outfield player and a goalkeeper.
National team Scotland
Capped for Junior Scotland as a defender, he later played in goal for Morton before moving to Hearts where he won his first full Cap in Scotland's 3-0 win against Ireland in March 1900. Widely recognised as the first goalkeeper to study the geometry and science of the art, he was transferred to Hibs later that year.
A forthright personality with a great belief in his own ability, Rennie is also said to have been the first player to present his own contract demands when signing for for Hibs. He went on to be an integral member of the Hibs great side which won the Scottish Cup in 1902 and the League Championship the following year, his sterling performances playing a major part in the team's success. Moving to Rangers in 1908 after brief service with Inverness and Kilmarnock, Rennie ended his career where it began, back with Morton.
While at Easter Road Willie Rennie represented Scotland on eleven occasions and was Hibernian's most capped player until his record was overtaken by Lawrie Reilly in 1951. He remained a keen student of the game, particularly the goalkeeping position, until his death in Greenock in 1954 aged 81.
A series of letters were written by Rennie in 1936 to a friend who was trying to persuade him to write a series of articles about his goalkeeping technique for a national newspaper.
In the letters the less than bashful Rennie indicates: "that he could certainly write two or three unique goalkeeping articles being the only player who disdained the orthodox and designed a really scientific system for his self, but I would be wasting my time as the press don't pay the money that I would want." He goes on to state "the only thing wrong with my game is that I was 50 years ahead of my time."
In the intriguing letters he describes a photograph he had included in a previous correspondence to his friend. According to him "the team photo included some of the most famous players of all time such as RS McColl, Bobby Walker, Jackie Robertson, and James McAulay of Dumbarton" adding "he believed that he and McAulay are the only two players in the history of the game to receive international caps as outfield players and goalkeepers."
On another page he mentions: "My every major move on a football field was for the practical application of one or other of the scientific theories on which my game was founded."
Near the end he admits somewhat mysteriously to producing: "a certain trend of thought in the minds of my opponents, thereby making them send the ball just where it was easy for me to get by my peculiar positioning. It was such a despicable contemptible low down trick I thought, that I only did it once or twice just for a lark without sinister intentions or maliciousness of any kind. I feel sure that the spectators themselves would have enjoyed the joke had they known the jocular spirit of its origin."
Having presumably built the reader up to a frenzy of excited anticipation, he finishes somewhat disappointingly by adding, "but I don't feel like talking about it at the moment."