Mo Johnston: Wikis


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Mo Johnston
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Personal information
Full name Maurice John Giblin Johnston
Date of birth 13 April 1963 (1963-04-13) (age 46)
Place of birth    Glasgow, Scotland
Playing position Striker
Club information
Current club Toronto FC (director)
Youth career
Milton Battlefield
Senior career1
Years Club App (Gls)*
Partick Thistle
Kansas City Wizards
085 (41)
038 (23)
140 (52)
066 (22)
100 (46)
034 (10)
035 0(5)
041 0(6)
149 (31)   
National team
1984–1992 Scotland 38 (14)
Teams managed
Red Bull New York
Toronto FC

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

Maurice John Giblin "Mo" Johnston (born 13 April 1963 in Glasgow, Scotland) is a former football striker, who made his name playing with Celtic and Rangers. He is currently the manager and Director of Soccer at Major League Soccer club Toronto FC.[1]


Club career

Partick Thistle

Johnston started his career in 1981 with Partick Thistle and scored 41 goals in two and a half seasons there.


He then moved on to English club Watford for a fee of £200,000 in November 1983, when they were struggling against relegation from the First Division a season after finishing second. However, his arrival revived their season as they recovered well to finish mid table, as he scored 20 goals in just 29 league games. He also helped them reach their first ever FA Cup final, where they lost 2-0 to Everton. He began the 1984-85 season still at Vicarage Road and managed three goals in nine First Division games before returning to Scotland in a [1]


Johnston was an instant success at Celtic, scoring 14 league goals in 27 games during his first season. 1985-86 was even better, as he managed 15 goals from 32 Premier Division games as Celtic won the double of the Premier Division title and the Scottish Cup. He did manage 23 goals from 40 games - his best tally yet - in 1986-87, though this time it was Rangers not Celtic who were champions. [2]


Johnston moved on to French club Nantes in 1987 and scored 22 goals in two seasons there. After initially claiming he would never return to Scotland, Johnston reconsidered and appeared at a press conference to announce that he would sign for Celtic at the end of his contract with Nantes.


In July 1989, after a last minute change of mind, Johnston opted not to return to Celtic (who had recently sold his replacement Frank McAvennie back to West Ham United and instead joined Graeme Souness's Rangers. This unprecedented move managed to anger some supporters of both Celtic and Rangers. Some Rangers supporters saw the signing of a Roman Catholic -- who was also a high-profile former player and supporter of their most bitter rivals—as a betrayal of the club's traditions. While representations in the popular press emphasised the acrimonious reaction of some fans to Johnston's signing, other supporters viewed the signing enthusiastically, the one-upmanship of securing the coveted Johnston outweighing whatever other reservations might have existed on the grounds of religion or footballing enmity.[2]

For Celtic fans, too, Johnston's signing provoked intense indignation amongst some fans. As with Rangers supporters, for the majority this may have been driven principally by partisan footballing loyalties, but views amongst some may arguably have been prompted also by a deeper sense of betrayal stemming from the decision of a 'Celtic-minded' former player and supporter to sign for the club's principal rivals. Just days before signing for Rangers, Johnston had appeared at a press conference at Celtic Park where he declared that "Celtic are the only club that I want to play for..." For much of the Celtic support, Johnston's subsequent change of heart transformed his status from returning hero to traitor. Consequently MoJo, as he was previously nicknamed, was referred to as Judas by Celtic fans.[3][4]

Johnston was not the first Roman Catholic to sign for Rangers. However, his signing was by far the highest profile one during a period in which Rangers very publicly committed the club to a signing policy which took no account of religion. Since Johnston's signing, numerous Catholics (though few actually from Scotland) have played for Rangers. Equally, Johnston's signing was one of only a small number (and by the far the most prominent) of instances of indirect transfers from one Old Firm club to the other, and was bound to prove controversial, irrespective of the player's religion.

Johnston scored 46 goals for Rangers in 100 games in major competitions and helped them to the first two of their nine consecutive Scottish titles secured in the period 1989-1997.


Graeme Souness had departed Rangers to manage Liverpool just before the end of the 1990-91 season, and almost as soon as Souness arrived at Anfield there was much speculation as to whether Souness would sign Johnston for Liverpool, but the transfer never happened, with the speculation quickly being killed off after Souness paid a national record fee to sign Dean Saunders.

On 18 November 1991, Johnston signed for Liverpool's neighbours Everton to form a three-man strikeforce along with Tony Cottee and Peter Beardsley. He scored seven goals in 21 league games as Everton finished mid table in the 1991-92 campaign of the Football League First Division to secure a place in the new FA Premier League. Johnston managed 10 goals in 34 games as Everton finished 13th in the first season of the new super league, but despite the departure of Peter Beardsley to Newcastle United in the close season, Johnston was not the first team squad for the 1993-94 campaign as manager Howard Kendall reverted to the traditional 4-4-2 formation and partnered Tony Cottee with Paul Rideout in attack.

In September 1993, Johnston was on his way out of Goodison Park and back to his homeland in a transfer to Hearts. [3]

Return to Scottish football

Johnston returned to Scotland with Edinburgh club Hearts and then Falkirk, scoring just five and six goals respectively in season and a half with each club.


Johnston made the switch to the United States and Major League Soccer in 1996, signing with the Kansas City Wiz (later renamed the Wizards). He scored 31 goals in 149 games for the club, adding a goal in 15 playoff games. He was part of the Wizards team that won the MLS Cup in 2000.

International career

Mo Johnston made his debut with the Scottish national team in 1984 and had a decent scoring record making him the first choice striker for manager Andy Roxburgh.

Prior to that he had been expected to make the squad for Mexico 86 but was dropped by Alex Ferguson (caretaker manager until the end of the World Cup after the death of Jock Stein in September 1985) after a late night incident during Scotland's preparations for their play-off against Australia in November 1985, in which Johnston had disturbed a member of the coaching staff in his hotel room. In Ferguson's autobigraphy, Managing My Life, which was published 14 years later, Ferguson revealed that he had already warned Johnston about his conduct after he and team mate Frank McAvennie had bought drinks for themselves, fellow Scotland team mates and a group of young women in the hotel bar.

He played a big part in getting Scotland to Italia 90 but retired from international competition after their early elimination. He briefly returned to the national side team for several Euro qualifiers in late 1991 but got injured against Switzerland and finally, in 1992 after scoring 14 goals in 38 caps, permanently retired from the national team. He was in the starting lineup for all three of Scotland's matches in the 1990 FIFA World Cup, scoring a penalty kick against Sweden.

International goals

Scores and results list Scotland's goal tally first
Goal Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 28 February 1984 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Wales 2–1 2–1 BHC
2 12 September 1984 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Yugoslavia 5–1 6–1 Friendly
3 14 November 1984 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Spain 1–0 3–1 WCQG7
4 14 November 1984 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Spain 2–0 3–1 WCQG7
5 12 November 1986 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Luxembourg 3–0 3–0 ECQG7
6 17 February 1988 King Fahd Stadium, Riyadh  Saudi Arabia 1–1 2–2 Friendly
7 14 September 1988 Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo  Norway 2–1 2–1 WCQG5
8 19 October 1988 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Yugoslavia 1–0 1–1 WCQG5
9 8 February 1989 Tsirion Stadium, Limassol  Cyprus 1–0 3–2 WCQG5
10 8 March 1989 Hampden Park, Glasgow  France 1–0 2–0 WCQG5
11 8 March 1989 Hampden Park, Glasgow  France 2–0 2–0 WCQG5
12 26 April 1989 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Cyprus 1–0 2–1 WCQG5
13 19 May 1990 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Poland 1–0 1–1 Friendly
14 16 June 1990 Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genoa  Sweden 2–0 2–1 WCGC

Managerial career

Johnston retired after the 2001 season, and from 2003 to 2005 was an assistant coach to Bob Bradley for the MetroStars. After Bradley was fired with five games left in the 2005 season, Johnston was named interim head coach. With a record to end the season of 3 wins, 1 loss, and 1 tie, he led the team to the playoffs and was promoted to the full-time position with re-branded Red Bull New York after the season. On 27 June 2006, after a 2-3-7 start to the 2006 season, Johnston was fired.

On 22 August 2006, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE); owners of MLS club Toronto FC, announced Johnston as Head Coach beginning their inaugural 2007 season. Johnston has the dubious distinction of coaching Toronto FC through two records of futility: the MLS longest goalless streak at 824 minutes and the longest goalless streak to begin the season at 558 minutes. Before the start of the 2008 season, it was announced that Johnston would move upstairs to fill the role of Director of Football, though he would retain the title of manager, while John Carver took over coaching duties at the time.

Mo Johnston has earned himself the name "Trader Mo" because in the first half of the first season alone he had traded 9 players. Throughout his MLS managerial career though, Johnston has developed a reputation of proficiency for drafting players, having chosen future nationally capped players in Jozy Altidore, Marvell Wynne and Maurice Edu, among others.


External links

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