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Alex Neil: Scotland’s Very Own Football Player And Coach

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Alex Neil is a former professional football player who currently manages the Football League Championship side Stoke City. Over a long professional career, he appeared in 389 matches and scored 14 goals. After retiring as a player in 2015, Alex Neil started working as a manager immediately. As a matter of fact, he served as the player-manager of Hamilton Academical between 2013-2015. In this post, we will find out more about him. Let’s get started.

Alex Neil: All You Need To Know

When was Alex Neil born?

Football player and manager Alex Neil was born on June 9, 1981, in Scotland. He spent his formative years in the country and eventually played in the Scottish Premier League.

Is Alex Neil a player-manager?

Yes, between 2013-2015, Alex Neil was both a player and the manager for the Hamilton Academicals. He actually led the Academicals back into the Scottish Premier League in his first season as a manager. He had been hired as an interim manager after Bill Reid vacated his spot. However, he was hired on a permanent basis at just the age of 31, becoming one of the youngest ever managers in the process.

How was Alex Neil’s football career?

Playing Career

Alex Neil started his professional football journey in the First Division of the Scottish Football League. In 2000, Alex Neil played half a season for the Airdrieonians and transferred to Barnsley. 

Alex Neil had a long and successful stint with Barnsley where he appeared in 142 games for the club in four years. After his contract was up, Alex Neil signed with Mansfield Town. He didn’t last very long there and left the club after just one season. He went back to the Scottish First Division and joined the Hamilton Academicals. He stayed with the team between 2005-2015 and appeared in 246 matches for the club. He was even hired as a player-manager for two years between 2013-2015. He helped the team earn a promotion to the Scottish Premier League as a player in 2008 and as a player-manager in 2014. 

Managerial Career

Alex Neil finished his playing career with the Hamilton Academicals in 2015 and became a full time manager. However, he left his managerial role with the Academicals and signed with Norwich City, becoming the second youngest manager in English Football League history. As it had been in his career so far, Alex Neil ended up taking Norwich City to the Barclays Premier League as well. 

He did so by leading the team to a play-off Final victory. Unfortunately, the Barclays Premier League proved to be extremely tough for the team and they were relegated to the Championship the next season. As a result of that, Alex Neil was sacked from his role. After managing Preston City for a year in the Championship, Alex Neil was hired as the manager of Sunderland in League One. Within a season, Alex Neil led Sunderland up into the Championship. 

Here’s what he had to say about Sunderland’s success after leading them back into the Championship: “I think you’ve always got belief. When you take the job, you need to believe you can carry it through because the last thing I wanted to do was drop into League One and fail or not do as well.”

“Bear in mind that I’ve taken over a club that wasn’t down the bottom end of the table. When you take clubs that are high up the table, how much scope have you actually got? You’ve really got to get to the play-offs, or get automatic, which at that stage was looking really difficult.”

“It’s quite easy not to do well, if that makes any sense. It would have been easier for me to say, I’ll pass this one because I’ll wait for an easier job further down the line’. But I was waiting for something that was really going to intrigue me and test me, and I’ve never been scared of failing. I’ve never been scared of putting myself out there and thinking that I can get it done.”

“This was the biggest test of all really because of the size of the club, the expectation of the club and not only that, but how many people have struggled before me?”

“To take that, and to make it work is great, but you need a slice of fortune as well. You do need fortune, but I think fortune in any sport comes to the people that practice the most and do the work behind the scenes and put the hard yards in. We work extremely hard, and that’s probably why I’m so sombre, because I’m so confident because of how hard we work behind the scenes.”

“I can’t do any more to give the lads what they need to make them perform, and credit to them. They’ve been brilliant.”

After leading Sunderland to the Championship, Alex Neil joined Stoke City as its manager, a role he currently serves.

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