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Dario Gradi
Personal information
Full name Dario Gradi MBE
Date of birth 8 July 1941 (1941-07-08) (age 68)
Place of birth Milan, Italy
Club information
Current club Crewe Alexandra (director of football & caretaker manager)
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
Sutton United
Tooting & Mitcham United
Teams managed
1978–1981 Wimbledon
1981 Crystal Palace
1983–2007 Crewe Alexandra
2008 Crewe Alexandra (caretaker)
2009–2010 Crewe Alexandra (caretaker)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only. † Appearances (Goals).

Dario Gradi MBE (born 8 July 1941) is an Italian-born English football manager and former player, currently director of football and caretaker manager of Crewe Alexandra, a club with which Gradi has been associated for almost thirty years.

Gradi is notable for his 24-year first spell as manager of Crewe, between 1983 and 2007. He stepped down from his managerial role in 2007, handing first-team responsibilities to Steve Holland, and became technical director. At that time, Gradi was the longest serving manager of an English football league club.[1]

Over his career Gradi has become one of English football's most respected managers and coaches. Born to an Italian father (who died when Dario was a small child) and an English mother, he moved to London when his mother returned after the Second World War.


Playing career

He trained as a teacher of physical education at what is now Loughborough University between 1960 and 1963 and his first teaching position was at Glyn Grammar School, Epsom – the school which he himself had attended. As a footballer, he played for Sutton United, playing in the FA Cup tie against Leeds United in 1970, and Tooting & Mitcham United. During that time Gradi also owned and operated a sportswear and equipment shop in Ewell village.

Coaching career

After a period of teaching, Gradi turned to football coaching, becoming Assistant Coach at Chelsea in 1971 at the age of just 29. This was followed by coaching and management posts at Sutton United, Derby County, Wimbledon, and a two-year spell as youth-coach at Leyton Orient.

Management career



He took over as manager of Wimbledon in January 1978, helping the Plough Lane side win their first promotion from the Football League Fourth Division in 1978/79, although they were relegated at the first attempt. They were well on course for an immediate return to the Football League Third Division when in February 1981 an offer came for Gradi to manage struggling Football League First Division side Crystal Palace.

Crystal Palace

However, his time at Selhurst Park was not a success, as he failed to save Palace from relegation and he resigned the following November as a disappointing start to the 1981/82 season saw their promotion hopes effectively written off (promotion was ultimately not achieved for another seven seasons).

Crewe Alexandra

Gradi returned to management in June 1983, when he accepted an offer to manage Crewe Alexandra, a team who regularly finished near the bottom of the Fourth Division and had been forced to apply for re-election on several occasions in order to avoid slipping into the Northern Premier League and, since its creation in 1979, the Alliance Premier League. His first signing was Mike Woodward from Watford and gradually the club moved forward.

In 1988/89, after six seasons of steady progress, they won promotion to end 25 years in the league's basement division. They went back down again two years later, but in 1994 won promotion to the Division Two and three years after that they reached Division One for the first time in their history. Shortly after the 1994 promotion, Gradi became the League's longest-serving manager, long outlasting others in such jobs.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Gradi helped launch the careers of many players who went on to play top division and even international football. These include David Platt, Rob Jones, Geoff Thomas, Danny Murphy, Ashley Ward, Wayne Collins, Dean Ashton and Neil Lennon. Platt was the most successful of these players, captaining England on many occasions and also helping Arsenal win the double at the end of his playing career.

By 2002, he was one of just two managers to have held their position since before 1990. He has since joined the club's Board of Directors.

"Dario is honest, diligent and remarkable. He did a great job at Crewe and proved himself to be one of our best managers."

His keen eye for spotting and rearing young talent is what has gained him some recognition in football. He was linked with the post of FA Technical Director in 1996,[3] and also entered into discussions with Portugal's Benfica over the vacant managerial spot in the 1980s.

His success continued into the 2000s, when he helped launch the career of a new generation of young stars including Dean Ashton and Michael O'Connor. A host of other players have achieved caps below full international status - e.g.: schoolboy, under-18, under-21, etc. Gradi is respected for encouraging his sides to play the game in a fair spirit,[4] whilst also ensuring that his players seek to play 'proper' football rather than 'long-ball' football.

On 20 April 2007 Gradi announced that with effect from 1 July he would relinquish first team responsibilities, becoming Technical Director while gradually handing over to new first-team coach Steve Holland, with Neil Baker remaining as assistant manager. Gradi told the club website:

"I didn't want to be a 75-year-old manager working seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. That is not healthy for the future of the club. I will probably drop dead doing the job at some point but I wanted to put that day off a bit. This is a better way to do things, to introduce this gradual transition because it will take some of the workload off me." [5]

On 18 November 2008, Gradi resumed control of Crewe's first team on a caretaker basis after a poor start to the 2008/09 season under Steve Holland had left the club bottom of League One.[6] He was in charge for just over a month before Gudjon Thordarson was announced as his successor on Christmas Eve 2008.[7] Gradi remained in charge of the team for two games during the Christmas period, with Thordarson taking over on 29 December. Following the sacking of Thordarson on 2 October 2009,[8] Gradi was again reinstated as caretaker manager which the board of directors then stated would be until further notice.


Gradi was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2004 in recognition of his impact as a manager in the English game.

The British dance music group Dario G is named in his honour, as is a street in Crewe, Dario Gradi Drive 53°5′9.91″N 2°26′16.23″W / 53.0860861°N 2.4378417°W / 53.0860861; -2.4378417. In 2003 he was made an Honorary Freeman of the Borough of Crewe and Nantwich and in the same year was awarded an honorary doctorate by Loughborough University.

The winning school in the Surrey Schools Football Association's boys under-13s competition receive the Dario Gradi Trophy.[9]

Managerial statistics

As of 28 December 2009
Team Nat From To Record
G W L D Win %
Wimbledon England 5 January 1978 1 January 1981 171 63 61 47 36.8
Crystal Palace England 1 February 1981 10 November 1981 27 6 18 3 22.2
Crewe Alexandra1 England 1 June 1983 1 July 2007 1244 462 477 305 37.1
Crewe Alexandra (caretaker) England 18 November 2008 28 December 20082 9 3 5 1 33.3
Crewe Alexandra (caretaker) England 2 October 2009 current 14 5 6 3 35.7
1 Between 22 September and 17 October 2003 Neil Baker took temporary charge of the team while Gradi underwent heart surgery. The team did not win any matches during this period.
2 Gradi's successor, Gudjon Thordarson, was announced on 24 December, but Gradi remained in charge of the team for games on 26 and 28 December.


  1. ^ Footballers are greedy says Gradi BBC Sport, 19 June 2008. Retrieved on 20 June 2008.
  2. ^ "Dario Gradi Football Hall of Fame profile". English Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2007-11-19.  
  3. ^ Gradi stays at Crewe, BBC, 15 October 2002
  4. ^ Crewe Alexandra won the PFA Bobby Moore Fair Play trophy twelve times in fifteen years during Gradi's reign - see Crewe Supporters' Website
  5. ^ Times Online and agencies (2007-04-20). "Gradi reaches end of the line at Crewe-Sport-Football-League One-TimesOnline". Times Online. London. Retrieved 2007-04-20.  
  6. ^ "Gradi replaces Holland at Crewe". BBC Sport. 2008-11-18. Retrieved 2008-11-18.  
  7. ^ Thordarson appointed Crewe boss BBC Sport; 24 December 2008
  8. ^ Thordarson sacked as Crewe boss BBC Sport; 2 October 2009
  9. ^

External links

Simple English

Dario Gradi
Personal information
Full name Dario Gradi MBE
Date of birth 8 July 1941 (1941-07-08) (age 69)
Place of birth    Milan, Italy
Playing position (retired)
Senior clubs
Years Club
Sutton United
Tooting & Mitcham United
Teams managed
Crystal Palace
Crewe Alexandra
Crewe Alexandra

Dario Gradi is a football manager. He manages Crewe Alexandra.



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