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Neil John Webb (born 30 July 1963 in Reading, Berkshiremarker) is an Englishmarker television pundit and former football player.

Playing career

Webb joined Reading on leaving school in 1979 and made his first-team debut in February 1980. He became the youngest ever scorer for the team. In July 1982 he transferred to Portsmouth where he was a regular first-team player and helped them win promotion to the Second Division (as Third Division champions) in his first season, and over the next two seasons they came close to reaching the First Division.

In 1985, Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough paid Portsmouth £250,000 for Webb. At Forest he developed into a top class midfielder. During his time on Trentside he won the League Cup in 1989 (scoring in the final against Luton) and became a regular member of the England national team. Webb was one of the Forest players who had to cope with the horrors of the Hillsborough disaster during the opening minutes of their FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool. Webb played in the rescheduled game at Old Traffordmarker, which Liverpool won 3-1.

His goalscoring record was highly impressive for a midfielder during his time at Nottingham Forest, exceeding that of many strikers at the time. He managed 14 league goals in both of his first two seasons at the club, in 1986-87 from just 32 games. He scored 13 times in the 1987-88 league campaign, though his goalscoring totally was lower in 1988-89 (six goals from 30 games) it did nothing to diminish his reputation as a first class midfielder. [129107]

In the summer of 1989 he joined Manchester United for a £1.5m transfer fee, scoring on his league debut against Arsenal. Unfortunately, after just a few games at United, Webb snapped his achilles tendon while playing a match for England against Sweden. He never returned to his previous form, suffering from weight problems and other injuries. Webb was still a precise passer of the ball and was included in the England 1990 World Cup squad. He also helped Manchester United win the FA Cup in 1990, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1991, and Football League Cup in 1992.

In the 1990 FA Cup final, he memorably hit a clinical 50 yard pass to Lee Martin who subsequently scored the winning goal in the FA Cup Final replay.

He played in 31 out of 42 First Division games for Manchester United in 1991-92, but missed the final few games of the season due to a rift with manager Alex Ferguson - some fans even blamed United's failure to win the league title that season on Webb's absence from the final games.

Webb only played one more game for United before he returned to Nottingham Forest for £800,000 on 23 November 1992. [129108]

He was the 1000th player to win an England cap.

His second spell at Forest was unsuccessful, as he could not win a regular first-team place because of the emergence of other players like Steve Stone and Lars Bohinen. He made just nine league appearances in 1992-93 as Forest were relegated, but when manager Brian Clough retired and was succeeded by Frank Clark, he had more first team opportunities, playing 21 league games and scoring three goals as Forest were promoted back to the Premier League as Division One runners-up.

Webb never played league football for Forest again after the 1994 promotion, though he remained contracted to the club for another two years.

He had a spell on loan back at Reading in the 1995-96 season before finally leaving Forest for good in the summer of 1996 and signing for Grimsby Town. He then joined Aldershot Town where he made 36 appearances and scored 6 goals in the Isthmian League, before joining Weymouth as player-coach in 1997.

In a vote to compile the Royals' best-ever eleven, Webb was voted on the team in central midfield.

Management career

After having to give up playing football, from June to December 1997 he was player-coach of Dr Martens Southern Division side Weymouth, but quit after just 70 days. His next spell in management with non-league Reading Town in 2001 was also short-lived.

After football

After Webb left Reading, he could occasionally be found selling programmes at Reading F.C.'s Madejski Stadiummarker.

He soon started working with The Score Television Network in Canada as their English football correspondent for their "Sportsworld" and "Footy Show" programs. He is on every Sunday, and gives his opinion on the happenings of the English Premier League (EPL) and the world of football. He finished his job as a postman, and worked for Charlton Athletic F.C., a Championship side.

Private life

Neil Webb's ex-wife Shelley Webb became a TV presenter, becoming a real footballers' wives interviewee, and then wrote the book called Footballers' Wives. Webb and Shelley have two sons, Luke and Josh, who are playing football; Luke with Hereford United and Josh at Farnborough F.C.. Luke Webb previously played with Arsenal Under-18s and Josh with Reading F.C.'s youth teams. Neil became a postman and was featured in the Observer Sport Supplement in a "where are they now" feature and is currently working hard for a transport company. He is also becoming a regular guest on Talksport.

Honours

With Nottingham Forest:

With Manchester United:

References

  1. Neil Webb at Soccerbase.com
  2. Rice, X. 2004. When the music stops: Part 1. The Observer
  3. Revealed - The Royals' best-ever XI. ReadingFC.co.uk



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