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Gary McAllister MBE (born 25 December 1964 in Newarthill, Motherwellmarker) is a Scottishmarker former professional footballer turned manager.

McAllister played primarily as a central midfielder, though he could also play on either wing, in a successful career spanning over twenty years. He started his career at local side Motherwell before moving south of the border to Leicester City at the age of 20. McAllister then went on to play for Leeds United, with whom he won the league championship, and he later had two spells at Coventry City intersected by a brief, yet triumphant, stint at Liverpool.

McAllister also represented his national side for nine years, winning 57 caps and scoring five goals. His leadership qualities were soon noticed, but then he spent four unsuccessful years as Scotland captain in addition to two seasons as Leeds United skipper. He was awarded an MBE in the 2001 New Year Honours in recognition of his contribution to the sport.

As his playing career drew to a close he decided to enter the managerial side of the game. He did this first during his second stay at Coventry when he was appointed player-manager in April 2002. He stayed at the club until he temporarily stepped down in December 2003 to care for his wife, Denise, who was suffering from breast cancer. He resigned a month later and didn't enter management again until he returned to Elland Roadmarker in January 2008 to replace Dennis Wise.

Playing career


McAllister began his playing career at his local side Motherwell. His senior debut was away to Queen of the South on 1st May 1982. McAllister scored eight goals in 70 appearances, culminating in a fine performance in the 1985 Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic.

Leicester City

McAllister's performances in the cup caught the eye of Leicester City manager Gordon Milne. He signed for the Englishmarker club, along with Motherwell team-mate Ally Mauchlen, for a combined fee of £250,000 in August 1985. Although Mauchlen’s greater experience cast McAllister as the 'make-weight' in the deal, he soon rose to prominence as an attacking force in Leicester midfield, impressing manager and fans alike with his accurate passing to feet, and confident range of skills on the ball. During his first season at Filbert Street he adapted well to regular First Division football, and began to rise to prominence in creating chances for a team that included Steve Lynex and Alan Smith.

During Leicester’s ultimately unsuccessful campaign to stave off relegation to Division Two that season under Milne’s successor Bryan Hamilton, McAllister found himself employed in a variety of midfield and forward roles, which affected his form. After Hamilton was replaced by David Pleat, however, his stylish playmaking abilities began to draw the attention of several Division One teams.

Over the following three seasons his reputation grew, boosted by a respectable goal tally from midfield that included an uncommon number of well-executed strikes from unfavourable positions. The only ever-present player during the 1988/89 season, McAllister was the subject of constant transfer speculation throughout the following term, and he turned down a mooted £1.15 million move to Nottingham Forest to see out his contract with Leicester after Brian Clough apparently failed to impress him during an interview.

In five seasons with Leicester, McAllister played 225 games in total, scoring 52 goals.

Leeds United

McAllister arrived at Leeds United on 2 July 1990 for a tribunal-determined fee of £1,000,000, and replaced the role vacated by Vinnie Jones when he left for Sheffield United. The club had just achieved promotion to Division One, the top tier of English football at the time. Leeds performed well in McAllister's first season at Elland Road, finishing fourth in the table and reaching the League Cup semi-finals.

He formed a strong midfield quartet that season with fellow Scottish international Gordon Strachan and relative youngsters David Batty and Gary Speed. This midfield was the force behind the success of the 1991–92 season, in which Leeds United were crowned League Champions.

The title-winning team owed a lot to the midfield. The side had little international talent in attack or defence (although full backs Tony Dorigo and Mel Sterland were both full internationals) and so much of the onus was on Strachan, McAllister, Wales international Speed and England's Batty to provide that required class. The quality of the midfield was that any of the four could slot into whichever area they needed to be in, be it left, right or centre, though Batty tended to be the holding midfield player whilst McAllister, Strachan and Speed provided the creativity. McAllister's dead-ball skills were also utilised by top-scorer Lee Chapman, who scored the majority of his goals from headers and thrived off the service provided by McAllister and Strachan's free kicks.

The rest of McAllister's time at Leeds saw the club fail to recapture those heights. The highest the club finished during this period was fifth in the 1993–94 and 1994–95 seasons and the lowest was 17th in the 1992–93 season – one of the lowest-placed finishes of a defending league champion in English football history. Despite this, he captained the side for two seasons and won a special place in the hearts of Leeds United fans with his fine attitude, blistering long-range strikes and trademark free kicks.

Although his final season with Leeds may have been a disappointing 13th, it allowed McAllister to achieve one of his first footballing ambitions – to captain a side at Wembley Stadiummarker. He led his team out in the 1996 League Cup Final, but it wasn't to be and Aston Villa won 3–0.

In his six seasons with the club, McAllister played 294 games in total, scoring 45 goals.

Coventry City

McAllister left Leeds for Coventry City on 26 July 1996, for a fee of £3,000,000. He stayed there for four seasons and played firstly under Ron Atkinson and then former Leeds team-mate Strachan. McAllister was a big name recruit to Big Ron's team of 96-97. Yet the side, well garnished with typical Atkinson flare in the form of Noel Whelan, John Salako and Darren Huckerby never seemed to quite 'click' in the way of league results. Atkinson went upstairs to become 'Director of Football' in late 1996 in order to make way for Gordon Strachan. Strachan's team continued to struggle that season but would go on to stage one of the Premiership's greatest ever escapes. With McAllister captaining the side, the Sky Blues would secure an away draw against Arsenal and wins against Chelsea, Liverpool (away) and Tottenham Hotspur (away) to secure a seemingly impossible salvation. Strachan's first full season as manager in 97/98 saw the Sky Blues turn the corner and McAllister play a key role controlling the midfield helped by George Boateng. They played some fine football in a fast attacking side spearheaded by Darren Huckerby and Dion Dublin, well placed in the table and reaching the FA Cup quarter finals in 1998. His final season at the club was like his time at Coventry in microcosm, a poor start - including defeat by Tranmere Rovers in the league cup - followed by a stylish and creditable finish. Some of the home form is regarded by many City fans as among the best of the previous decade with Robbie Keane and Cedric Roussel leading the attack. The Sky television team even calling them 'The Entertainers' at one point thanks to a two month unbeaten autumn schedule culminating in victory over Aston Villa and a memorable Keane effort to beat Arsenal. That said, City's old habit of letting soft opponents off the hook and failing to find any kind of edge away from home prevented a top ten finish. The City line-up included the likes of Robbie Keane, Mustapha Hadji, Carlton Palmer, Mo Konjic and Youssef Chippo in a side, however indifferent on their travels, capable of beating the very best opponents in flamboyant style at Highfield Road. Having experienced a difficult start at the club Gary McAllister won over the fans and remains a well respected figure at Coventry City. During his time at the Sky Blues McAllister played 140 games and scored 26 goals.


On 1 July 2000, McAllister completed a surprise move to Liverpool in a bosman transfer. Not many would have doubted McAllister's ability, but many Reds fans questioned manager Gérard Houllier's decision to sign a player who was by now 35 years old. Though serving for a relatively short time at Anfieldmarker, he played an integral role in the team that won a treble of cups in the 2000–01 season. His ability to play as a central midfielder or on either wing made him a useful weapon in the armoury of then-manager Houllier, who described McAllister as his "most inspirational signing".

Gary continued to be a first-class exponent of the dead-ball and frequently demonstrated his skill as he presided over most of Liverpool's set pieces in that season. He scored a penalty winner against Spanishmarker side Barcelona in the UEFA Cup semi-final and followed it up with a memorable 44-yard free-kick that won the Merseyside Derby against local rivals Everton in the 94th minute, thereby cementing himself into Anfield folklore. Further examples of this talent came in the run-in against Coventry City and Bradford City. These vital goals helped to take Liverpool into the Champions League and led many to suggest that the club had signed him ten years too late.

However, McAllister saved his best for those two finals the following May. He came on as a substitute in the FA Cup Final and his performance, together with Michael Owen's goals, turned the match after Liverpool had seemed to be heading for defeat against Arsenal. Four days later he was named in the starting line-up in the UEFA Cup Final against Deportivo Alavés in Dortmundmarker. McAllister scored one, and had a hand in three, of the five Liverpool goals in a memorable 5–4 victory. He slotted home a penalty and Alaves' Delfi Geli scored a golden own goal from his 117th minute free-kick. He was deservedly awarded the man of the match award for his efforts and completed the season's success by scoring a penalty in Liverpool's 2–1 win over Manchester United in the Charity Shield at the start of the next season.

During his time at Anfield his presence, intelligent play and experience made a strong impression on the younger members of the squad and he seemed to inspire those around him when they found themselves in difficulty. This is one of the qualities that have led to his nickname The Enforcer by which he was known throughout his career.

McAllister left Anfield on 13 May 2002 to take up the role of player-manager of Coventry City. He ended his Liverpool career with an emotional send-off with a substitute appearance in a 5–0 win over Ipswich Town. The whole ground stood and applauded the "Kop hero" and despite only being with Liverpool for two years, he had featured 87 times and scored nine goals. In recognition for his contribution to the club's success, McAllister was named as number 32 in the 100 Players Who Shook The Kop survey.


He was also a Scotland international winning over 50 caps. After claiming the equaliser on his debut for Scotland 'B' against France in April 1987, McAllister went on to represent Scotland at full international level on 57 occasions, scoring 5 goals. He was a member of the 1990 FIFA World Cup squad and captained the 1996 European Football Championship team.

Managerial career

Coventry City

McAllister had a fairly indifferent spell in management with his former club Coventry. However, he resigned on 12 January 2004 so that he could devote more time to his family. He had recently stepped down on a temporary basis in order to be with his wife, Denise, while she underwent treatment for breast cancer. McAllister's former assistant Eric Black replaced him three days later. His wife, Denise died on 3 March 2006, aged 38.

Leeds United

After almost four years out of the game, McAllister, who was part of the squad the last time Leeds had won the League Championship, was appointed the new manager of Leeds United on 29 January 2008 with an initial contract until the end of the season. The club was sitting in sixth place after former boss Wise's surprise departure to Newcastle and the new manager's first game came four days after his appointment. McAllister had not had sufficient time to get to know his new players, so the selection duties were primarily on technical director Gwyn Williams, who had presided over Leeds' 1–0 away defeat to Southend United. Leeds lost the game 2–0 to Tranmere Rovers and slipped to eighth in the table and it became clear that McAllister would need to turn the tide if Leeds were to regain a play-off spot.

The new manager bagged his first win at the fifth attempt, in a 1–0 away victory over Swindon Town, before following it up with his first home victory against Bournemouth, in which Leeds beat the relegation-threatened side 2–0.

Leeds chairman Ken Bates rewarded McAllister for his hard work and the team's good form – just two defeats in 12 games – by offering him a new 12-month rolling contract on 3 April 2008. Bates cited McAllister's general improvement of team performances and his planning for the club's future as reasons for offering him the new contract.

McAllister's task of getting The Whites into The Championship the same season took considerable step-forwards, as Leeds secured their spot in the play-offs with a 1–0 at Yeovil Town on 25 April 2008. But Leeds lost to Doncaster, 1–0 in the play-off final. During his second season as manager McAllister was sacked on 21 December 2008 after a poor string of results, which included an FA Cup defeat to part-time club Histon.

Since being sacked by Leeds he has made his interest known for the Motherwell managers job, which he didn't manage to get. 22 September it ws revealed he was in talks with Scotland about replacing Steven Pressley as Scotland's third coach, however on September 25 2009 it was revealed that he rejected the opportunity as he was holding out for a job at club level. On 29th September is was reported that Gary would become Portsmouth F.C assistant mananger, but he couldn't agree a deal with Portsmouth F.C

Career statistics

Playing career

Club Performance
Club Season League Domestic League Scottish Cup Scottish
League Cup
Europe Others Total
Apps 56 Goals 11 Apps 31 Goals 5 Apps 678 Goals 786 Apps 1 Goals 3 Apps 71 Goals 53 Apps Goals
Motherwell 1981–82 SD1 1 0 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 1 0
1982–83 SPL 1 0 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 1 0
1983–84 21 0 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 21 0
1984–85 SD1 35 6 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 35 6
1985–86 SPL 1 0 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 1 0
Total   59 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 59 6
Club Season League Domestic League FA Cup League Cup Europe Others Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Leicester City 1985–86 Div 1 31 7 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 31 7
1986–87 39 10 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 39 10
1987–88 Div 2 42 9 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 42 9
1988–89 46 11 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 46 11
1989–90 43 10 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 43 10
Total   201 47 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 201 47
Leeds United 1990–91 Div 1 38 2 6 1 7 2 0 0 4 1 55 6
1991–92 42 5 1 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 47 5
1992–93 Prem 32 5 4 2 3 1 5 2 0 0 44 10
1993–94 42 8 3 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 47 8
1994–95 41 6 4 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 47 6
1995–96 36 5 6 3 8 1 4 1 0 0 54 10
Total   231 31 24 6 26 4 9 3 4 1 294 45
Coventry City 1996–97 Prem 38 6 4 0 4 1 0 0 0 0 46 7
1997–98 14 0 0 0 4 2 0 0 0 0 18 2
1998–99 29 3 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 33 4
1999–00 38 11 3 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 43 13
Total   119 20 10 1 11 5 0 0 0 0 140 26
Liverpool 2000–01 Prem 30 5 5 0 5 0 9 2 0 0 49 7
2001–02 25 0 0 0 1 1 11 0 1 1 38 2
Total   55 5 5 0 6 1 20 2 1 1 87 9
Coventry City 2002–03 Div 1 41 7 3 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 46 9
2003–04 14 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 14 3
Total   55 10 3 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 60 12
Career Totals 720 119 42 8 45 11 29 5 5 2 841 145

Managerial career

Team Nat From To
P W D L Success
Rate %
Coventry City 24 April 2002 11 December 2003 76 21 26 29 39.04%
Leeds United 30 January 2008 21 December 2008 50 25 8 17 55.33%
Managers' success rate is based on points scored out of maximum points available i.e. win = 3 points, draw = 1 point, loss = 0 points.
The statistics include all league, cup & European first team fixtures.
Information correct as of match played 21 December 2008.


Club honours


Leeds United


Personal honours


  1. Leeds dismiss manager McAllister

External links

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