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Chris Nicholl
Personal information
Full name Christopher John Nicholl
Date of birth 12 October 1946 (1946-10-12) (age 63)
Place of birth    Wilmslow, England
Playing position Centre Back
Youth career
1963-1965 Burnley
Senior career1
Years Club App (Gls)*
Witton Albion
Halifax Town
Luton Town
Aston Villa
Grimsby Town
000 0(0)

042 0(3)
097 0(6)
210 (11)
228 0(8)
070 0(0)   
National team
1974-1983 Northern Ireland 051 0(3)
Teams managed
Northern Ireland (Assistant Manager)

1 Senior club appearances and goals
counted for the domestic league only.
* Appearances (Goals)

Christopher John "Chris" Nicholl (born 12 October 1946) is an English-born former footballer and manager of Northern Irish ancestry.


Playing career

Nicholl was born in Macclesfield. He played for Witton Albion, Burnley (1965-1968) (no league appearances), Halifax Town (1968-1969) (42 league appearances, 3 goals) and Luton Town (1969-1972) (97 league appearances, 6 goals), before establishing himself as a centre-half with Aston Villa (1972-1977) (210 league appearances, 11 goals). He captained the side to victory over Everton in the 1976/1977 League Cup after two final replays. The second replay is remembered for Nicholl scoring one of the greatest goals in any Aston Villa match, a forty yard left footer which helped take the match to extra time.

In a Division One game against Leicester City in 1976, he scored all 4 goals in a 2-2 draw.

He signed for Southampton F.C. in June 1977 and became the backbone of a successful side. He scored eight goals in 228 league appearances, before joining Grimsby Town in August 1983, for whom he made 70 league appearances in three years.

He won 51 Northern Ireland full international caps.




He returned to Southampton as the club's manager when Lawrie McMenemy resigned in August 1985. He kept the Saints in the First Division but despite having players of the calibre of Danny and Rod Wallace, Alan Shearer and Matthew Le Tissier in his squad, he tended to be too cautious. During his 6 seasons in charge, Saints were under-achievers and his best result was in 1989-90 with a finish in 7th place achieved largely thanks to 20 goals from Le Tissier and 18 from Rod Wallace.

Nicholl did achieve a modicum of cup success with Saints losing 2-0 (after extra-time) in the semi-final of the FA Cup to Liverpool on 5 April 1986 and again to Liverpool in the semi-final of the League Cup the following season.

The following season Saints finished in 14th place and Nicholl was sacked in May 1991 and replaced by Ian Branfoot. Thus ended a period of managerial stability, with only 3 managers in 36 years and started Southampton's managerial merry-go-round which saw them appoint 12 managers over the next 15 years.


It was three years before Nicholl returned to football. Early in the 1994-95 season he replaced Kenny Hibbitt as manager of Walsall FC and his first season at the club was successful as they were promoted from Division Three as runners-up. The Saddlers finished in the top half of Division Two during the next two seasons but Nicholl quit in May 1997 after failing to get Walsall into Division One, citing family reasons.

He made a brief return to Walsall as then-manager Ray Graydon's assistant in November 2001, but left in January 2002 through loyalty to Graydon, who had been sacked. He is now a regular at the Bescot Stadium, both as a supporter and as the correspondent for PA Sport.

Following the sacking of former Walsall player-manager Paul Merson in February 2006, Nicholl offered his services to the club within hours of Merson's departure. Nicholl remains popular amongst Walsall fans, but was not offered the manager's job - which later went to former Birmingham City captain Kevan Broadhurst.

Northern Ireland

In 1998, he was invited to work alongside Lawrie McMenemy as assistant manager of Northern Ireland where he spent the next two years.

Aston Villa Old Stars

Chris is currently the manager of Aston Villa Old Stars, who regularly play in testimonial and charity matches. The squad includes former Villa stars such as Gordon Cowans, Tony Morley and Des Bremner.

Playing Honours

Halifax Town

Aston Villa


External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Ian Ross
Aston Villa F.C. Captain
1974 – 1976
Succeeded by
Dennis Mortimer


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