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Terry Neill
Personal information
Full name William John Terence Neill
Date of birth 8 May 1942 (1942-05-08) (age 67)
Place of birth    Belfast, Northern Ireland
Playing position Centre back
Youth career
Bangor
Senior career1
Years Club App (Gls)*
1959-1970
1970-1973
Arsenal
Hull City
241 (8)
103 (4)   
National team
1961-1973 Northern Ireland 059 (2)
Teams managed
1970-1974
1971-1975
1974-1976
1976-1983
Hull City
Northern Ireland (part-time)
Tottenham Hotspur
Arsenal

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

William John Terence "Terry" Neill (born 8 May 1942) is a Northern Ireland former football player and manager.

Playing career

Born in Belfast, Neill played as a youth for Bangor, before moving in December 1959 to Arsenal. He spent a year in Arsenal's youth side, before making his debut against Sheffield Wednesday on 23 December 1960, aged eighteen. At first, he played sporadically during the early 1960s, getting between 10 and 20 games a season through the first half of the decade, though on one occasion he captained the side at the age of only nineteen.

Playing either at centre half or wing half, Neill established himself in the side in 1964-65, with 29 league appearances, and as one of the younger members of Billy Wright's team, was kept by Wright's successor Bertie Mee when he took over in 1966. Neill became a first-choice player through the mid-sixties, playing over 40 games a season for three seasons in a row, and also playing in the 1968 Football League Cup Final against Leeds United, which Arsenal lost.

During this time, Neill had also become a regular for Northern Ireland, having made his debut as long back as 1961. He became captain of his country in 1968, but a bout of jaundice restricted his appearances for club and country in 1968-69 and he missed the 1969 Football League Cup Final, which Arsenal lost to Swindon Town. Unable to regain his first-team place, Neill only made 25 appearances in 1969-70 and it became clear that he was surplus to requirements at Arsenal. In total he played 275 times for Arsenal, scoring ten goals.

Managerial career

Although still only 28, Neill was signed by Hull City in July 1970 as player-manager, one of the youngest ever managers in the history of the game; he later became player-manager of his country as well. Neill retired from playing in 1973, by which time he had won 59 caps for Northern Ireland, breaking Danny Blanchflower's record (though Pat Jennings would go on to break Neill's record in due course).

Neill left Hull a year later to succeed Bill Nicholson as manager of Arsenal's fiercest rivals, Tottenham Hotspur. He managed Spurs for two seasons, nearly getting the club relegated in the process.

Despite his less than sterling record at Spurs, Neill was recruited by the Arsenal board to replace Bertie Mee on July 9, 1976, and at the age of 34 he became the youngest Arsenal manager to date. With new signings like Malcolm Macdonald and Pat Jennings, and a crop of talent in the side such as Liam Brady and Frank Stapleton, the club enjoyed their best form since the 1971 double, reaching a trio of FA Cup finals (1978, 1979 and 1980) though Arsenal only won the 1979 final; they also reached the 1980 final of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, which Arsenal lost on penalties to Valencia.

However, Arsenal's success in the cups could not be matched in the league, and the departures of stars such as Brady and Stapleton, and the loss of Macdonald due to injury only made things worse. Neill also fell out with several of his players and failed to contain the drinking culture within the squad.

In 1981, he guided Arsenal to a third place finish in the final table - the closest in 10 years that they had come to winning the league title.

[1] He was sacked by Arsenal on 16 December 1983, less than three weeks after a shock Football League Cup exit at the hands of Third Division side Walsall. Arsenal were 16th in the league at the time of Neill's dismissal, just five points clear of the relegation zone and trailing several much smaller clubs including Coventry City, Norwich City and Luton Town. [1]

His last signing for the club came two weeks before his dismissal, when he signed 21-year-old defender Tommy Caton from Manchester City.

Neill retired from football, still only 41 years old, and has since opened sports bars in Hendon and Holborn, central London. He also commentates on Arsenal matches for Arsenal TV.

References

General
  • Harris, Jeff & Hogg, Tony (ed.) (1995). Arsenal Who's Who. Independent UK Sports. ISBN 1-899429-03-4.  
Specific
  1. ^ Spurling, Jon (2004). Rebels For The Cause: The Alternative History of Arsenal Football Club. Mainstream. pp. 133–151. ISBN 9781840189001.  
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