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David John Pleat (born Nottingham, England 15 January 1945) is a former football English player turned manager and sports commentator.

He is remembered by his contemporaries primarily for his career as managers of Tottenham Hotspur and Luton Town F.C. football clubs, and for an oft-televised clip of him running onto the pitch in 1983 to celebrate after a last-minute goal by Raddy Antic against Manchester City prevented Pleat's team Luton Town from being relegated from the Football League First Division.[1][2]


Playing career

Pleat's first club as a senior player was Nottingham Forest (1962–1964), which was his local club. From there he moved on to Luton Town (1964–1967), Shrewsbury Town (1967–1968) and Exeter City (1968–1970), where he once played outside left against the team that he was later to manage, Tottenham Hotspur. His playing career ended with a stint at Peterborough United (1970–1971), after which he turned to coaching and management.[3]

As a winger, he represented England at Schoolboy and youth level. He also made 185 Football League appearances for his five clubs, scoring 26 goals.

Management career

His first coaching position was for Southern League team Nuneaton Borough[3] in 1971.[4]

From there he went to the coaching staff at Luton Town. In January 1978 he was appointed manager of Luton Town. During his nine years as manager there the side was promoted from the Football League Second Division to the First Division and were renowned for playing attacking and attractive football. Many of that team would receive international recognition, including defender Mal Donaghy (Northern Ireland), midfielders Ricky Hill (England) and Danny Wilson (Northern Ireland), and forwards Brian Stein, Paul Walsh, and Mick Harford (all England). Luton never reached the Cup final whilst he was manager, though the team that won the 1988 Littlewoods Cup under Ray Harford, beating Arsenal 3-2 in the final, was largely his team of the early and mid-80s.[3] It was beaten 2-1 by Everton in the semi-final in 1985, in extra time, and in the quarter-final again by Everton in 1986.[5][6] (For more information, see History of Luton Town F.C. (1970–present).)

In 1987 Pleat was appointed to manager of Tottenham Hotspur. He brought along with him from Luton Mitchell Thomas. His earliest changes at the club were to bring in Nico Claesen and Richard Gough, the latter of whom he paired with Gary Mabbutt in defence, moving Paul Allen into midfield.[3] During his stint as manager, Tottenham Hotspur reached third place in the First Division, reached the FA Cup final, and the semi-final of the Football League Cup in the 1986-1987 season. Glenn Moore, writing in The Independent in 1995, described the play during Pleat's stint as Tottenham Hotspur manager as "some of the best attacking football of the last two decades".[7] Pleat's employment as manager of Tottenham came to an end when he resigned after allegations were made regarding his private life.[8] the board of Tottenhan Hotspur also wanted to bring back Terry Venables as manager, since he had also become available .[7]

Pleat went on to manage Leicester City for three years[9], Luton Town again, and Sheffield Wednesday.[8][10]

His first actions as manager for Sheffield Wednesday, a position which he took over from Trevor Francis, were to add Mick Walker and Danny Bergara to the youth management and Mark Pembridge and Marc Degryse to the first team. His first season at Hillsborough was frustrating, as they finished 15th in the Premier League - their lowest finish in five seasons since promotion.

The club won its first four fixtures of the 1996-1997 season, against Aston Villa, Leeds, Newcastle, and Leicester, earning Pleat the Manager of the Month Award for August 1996 as the Owls topped the Premier League, but their title hopes were short-lived as they failed to maintain this form and finished seventh in the final table. Pleat was sacked in November 1997 with the Owls battling relegation.

He returned to Tottenham Hotspur as Director of Football in 1998.[8][10] In September 2003, after the sacking of Glenn Hoddle, he took over as caretaker manager for Tottenham Hotspur,[10][11] a position that he held until the end of the season.[8][12] This was the third of three occasions in which he had been caretaker manager for Tottenham Hotspur.[8] He had previously been caretaker manager in 1998, before George Graham became manager, during which time the team had four wins, two draws, and one defeat.[4]

In August 2006, Pleat returned to his first and home club, Nottingham Forest, this time as a football consultant, a job which included advising Forest manager Colin Calderwood and scouting potential sightings.[13] In August 2009, Pleat had more time available, and was in discussion with the Forest chief executive about expanding his role.[14][15]

Commentary career

Pleat writes a regular column for the Guardian newspaper, primarily exploring the tactical side of recent matches[16], and contributes articles to the Daily Mail[17]. He spent several years working for ITV as an expert commentator, but left in August 2009.


  1. ^ Patrick Barclay (2002-02-23). "Pleat's soft-shoe shuffle suits Spurs". The Daily Telegraph (Telegraph Media Group Limited). 
  2. ^ Nick Greenslade (2004-04-04). "The 10 best managerial celebrations". The Observer (Guardian News and Media Limited).,,1182696,00.html. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Pleat's Ready To Bury Jinx". New Straits Times. 1987-05-15. 
  4. ^ a b Phil Shaw (1998-10-05). "Football: Pleat lays foundations for Graham". The Independent. 
  5. ^ "It's Not Over Yet Says Pleat". New Straits Times. 1985-03-10. 
  6. ^ "Everton In Last Four". New Straits Times. 1986-03-14. 
  7. ^ a b Glenn Moore (1995-09-16). "Pleat sustained by his passion for progress". The Independent. 
  8. ^ a b c d e William Johnson (2003-12-12). "Tottenham give Pleat job for rest of season". The Daily Telegraph. 
  9. ^ David Pleat - Former Football Manager, Commentator and After-Dinner Speaker
  10. ^ a b c Phil McNulty (2003-09-24). "Pleat the Spurs survivor". BBC News. 
  11. ^ Richard Bright (2003-09-22). "Hoddle sacked after Spurs' poor start". The Daily Telegraph. 
  12. ^ Conrad Leach (2003-12-12). "Spurs extend Pleat's caretaker role until summer". The Independent. 
  13. ^ "Pleat returns … After 46 years!". Nottingham Evening Post. 2006-08-11. 
  14. ^ "Davies confusion over Pleat role". BBC News. 2009-08-24. 
  15. ^ "Forest boss Davies: Board decide Pleat's role". Nottingham Evening Post. 2009-08-23. 
  16. ^ David Pleat
  17. ^ Pleat David

Further reading

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