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John "Ian" Porterfield (11 February 194611 September 2007) was a professional footballer, and an experienced football coach who worked at both club and international level for almost 30 years. Up until his death, he was the coach of the Armenian national team. He has the distinction of being the very first manager to be sacked in the FA Premier League, when he was fired by Chelsea. He is currently the last man to have replaced Alex Ferguson as a football manager, at Aberdeen in 1986.

Playing career

Born in Dunfermlinemarker, Scotlandmarker, Porterfield started his career with Raith Rovers, moving south of the border in 1967 to join Sunderland where he experienced his finest moment as a player when he scored the winner at Wembleymarker in the 1973 FA Cup Final, giving them a shock victory over Leeds United, who were among the finest club sides in Europe at this time. He stayed at Sunderland for ten years, with a brief loan spell at Reading in 1976, before moving onto Sheffield Wednesday, first as a player and then as player-coach.

Coaching career

Upon retirement as a player he went on to manage Rotherham United winning the Third Division Championship before joining Sheffield United on June 6 1981. He was given the task of getting the Blades, newly relegated to the Fourth Division back into the First Division in five seasons with a long-term contract exceeding that particular time-frame.

Given funds by new Chairman, Reg Brealey, Porterfield strengthened the team and achieved step 1 of his mission, winning the Fourth Division Championship in his first season. Despite huge financial losses, Brearley continued to provide transfer funds for United's march toward the top division. However, United were never in the hunt for promotion, finishing 11th.

The following season, the playing staff was cut and promotion was achieved, but only due to Hull City only beating Burnley F.C. 2-0. A third goal would have seen them promoted instead. However, ground improvement required by promotion to the Second Division meant there was no further funds for new players. Porterfield was unable to complete the final step into the First Division and finally paid the price being replaced by Billy McEwan on March 27 1986.

In November 1986, he was appointed as manager of Aberdeen in the Scottish Premier Division following the departure of Alex Ferguson to Manchester United. However, his time at Pittodriemarker was not a success and he had left by the end of the following season.

He made a quick comeback to football as assistant manager to Bobby Campbell at Chelsea and oversaw their promotion back to the First Division and Second Division champions in 1988-89.

In October 1989, Porterfield was named manager of Third Division side Reading but was sacked 18 months later, having failed to mount a promotion challenge.

Porterfield returned to Chelsea as manager for the 1991-92 season, following Bobby Campbell's decision to resign as manager and become PA to assistant Ken Bates. 1991-92 was an uneventful season, but 1992-93 began with Chelsea looking like surprise contenders for the first Premier League title. However, the good form had gone by Christmas and Porterfield was dismissed in January 1993, gaining the distinction of being the first manager to be sacked by a Premier League club.

Porterfield was named manager of the Zambia in the summer of 1993 and later managed Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe, all very much developing countries on the football map.

He was given the task of rebuilding the Zambian team following a tragic air crash in 1993 that claimed the lives of many of the nation's most gifted players. However he was to resign before the rebuilding process was completed after becoming entangled in a row over money with the former Wimbledon and Aston Villa player John Fashanu.

In January 1996, he returned to British football to become the assistant manager of struggling Premier League team Bolton Wanderers. The club had been rooted to the bottom of the table for the most part of the season and Bolton's new manager Colin Todd was looking to his former Sunderland team mate Porterfield to assist an unlikely escape from relegation, but survival was not achieved.

A drink-driving charge in May 1996 prompted his hasty resignation from Bolton and he returned abroad to manage both the Oman and Trinidad & Tobago national teams.

In 2003 he was appointed as the manager of Korean club side Busan I'Park and he led them to a Korean FA Cup victory in 2004. The team went on to claim the K-League first half title, as it simultaneously continued its unbeaten run through the group stage of the AFC Champions League.

Porterfield left Busan I'Park on April 4 2006. He signed a contract to coach the Armenia national team in August 2006.

He died, aged 61, on 11 September 2007, as a result of cancer of the colon, which had been diagnosed earlier in the year.


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