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Paul Emerson Carlyle Ince (born 21 October 1967 in Ilfordmarker, Greater Londonmarker) is an Englishmarker football manager and a former professional player. He is currently manager of Milton Keynes Dons for the second time in his managerial career and has also been manager of Blackburn Roversmarker and Macclesfield Town. As a player he won numerous honours with Manchester United, became the first black player to captain the England team and was also the first black Briton to manage a team in the highest tier of English football. His career saw him play for seven English clubs, including stints at Manchester United and Liverpool, as well as the Italian side, Internazionale.

Playing career

West Ham United

Ince grew up as a West Ham United supporter. He was spotted playing, aged 12, by West Ham manager John Lyall around the time that the club was in the Second Division and achieved a surprise FA Cup final triumph over Arsenal.

He signed for the Hammers as a trainee, aged 14. Lyall helped Ince through troubled school times eventually signing him as a YTS trainee, on leaving school, in 1984. He is a product of the West Ham youth team and made his debut in English football on 30 November 1986 against Newcastle United in the First Division. He became a regular player in 1987-88, proving himself to have all-round qualities of pace, stamina, uncompromising tackling and good passing ability. He also packed a powerful shot, and was awarded with England under-21 honours to go with the youth caps he acquired as an apprentice. He firmly established himself as the successor in West Ham's midfield for the veteran Billy Bonds, who retired at the end of the 1987-88 season. Unfortunately for Ince, West Ham were not enjoying one of their best spells when he broke into the team. Despite having won the FA Cup in 1980 and finished third in the league in 1986, they had failed to sustain their challenge for major honours and finished 15th in 1987 and 16th in 1988, and worse was to follow.

In August 1988, an eventful season for Ince began. In a struggling West Ham side, he shot to national recognition with two stunning goals in a shock 4-1 win over defending league champions Liverpool in the League Cup, and continued to score goals as the Hammers reached the semi-finals while having real trouble finding any form in the League. West Ham lost to Luton Town in the semi-finals and, despite frequent displays of individual brilliance from Ince, were relegated at the end of the season, a disappointment which cost manager John Lyall his job after 15 years at the helm.

Manchester United and England

Paul Ince in March 1991.
Ince played just once in the Second Division the following season before completing a highly controversial transfer to Manchester United for £1 million. Ince had been photographed in a Manchester United kit long before the transfer was complete, which appeared in the Daily Express. Ince received hateful abuse from West Ham United fans for many years afterwards. The initial move was postponed after he failed a medical, but was quickly completed on 14 September 1989 after he later received the all-clear. [103532]

In a recent article in Four Four Two magazine, when answering questions about his career from readers, he got his chance to explain the story:

"I spoke to Alex Ferguson and the deal was close to being done. I then went on holiday, and my agent at the time, Ambrose Mendy, said it wasn't worth me coming back to do a picture in a United shirt when the deal was completed, so I should do one before I left, and it would be released when the deal was announced. Lawrence Luster of the Daily Star took the picture and put in the library. Soon after, their sister paper, the Daily Express, were looking for a picture of me playing for West Ham, and found the one of me in the United shirt in the pile. They published it and all hell broke loose.

"I came back from holiday to discover West Ham fans were going mad. It wasn't really my fault. I was only a kid, I did what my agent told me to do, then took all the crap for it."

Ince eventually made his Manchester United debut in a 5-1 win over Millwall, though his next game for United came in a 5-1 hammering at the hands of Manchester City and became a strong presence in the midfield alongside long serving captain Bryan Robson and (when he wasn't out of the team injured) fellow new midfielder Neil Webb.

United won the FA Cup in his first season, defeating Crystal Palace 1-0 in a replay at Wembleymarker after initially drawing 3-3. In both of these games, Ince was selected at right-back in favour of Viv Anderson, with his favoured central midfield position being occupied by Mike Phelan.

Over the next four seasons, Robson's United career gradually wound down until he finally left to manage Middlesbrough in 1994. During this time, Ince found himself playing alongside several other different central midfielders, including Mike Phelan, Neil Webb and Darren Ferguson. The arrival of striker Eric Cantona in November 1992 saw Brian McClair become Ince's regular central midfield partner until the arrival of Roy Keane the following season.

Meanwhile, Ince became United's key midfielder, with snapping tackles, raking passes and some tremendously hit shots, though he was not too prolific a goalscorer. One of his best games came in January 1994, when he scored twice in a 2-2 away draw with former club West Ham in the Premier League.

He won his second winners' medal when United defeated Barcelona in the final of the European Cup Winners Cup in Rotterdammarker in 1991 and received his third another year later when United beat Nottingham Forest in the 1992 League Cup final.

Ince made his debut for the full England team in September of that year in a friendly match against Spain in Santandermarker. England lost 1-0 but Ince proved a success. He was duly awarded his second cap a month later in a disappointing 1-1 draw with Norway in a qualifying match for the 1994 World Cup.

At the same time, Manchester United were competing in the inaugural Premiership season with Ince and his best friend at the time, Ryan Giggs at the fore and part of a now legendary team that included Mark Hughes, Eric Cantona, Peter Schmeichel, Andrei Kanchelskis, Steve Bruce and Denis Irwin. Seeking a first League title for 26 years, United won it and Ince completed his domestic medal set just three years after joining the club.

Success at international level was not forthcoming. Ince was booked in a crucial World Cup qualifier against Poland, which caused him to be suspended for a critical 2-0 loss to Norway. However, Ince made history during England's summer tour of the U.S.marker when, in a match against the host nation, he became England's first black captain in the absence of David Platt and Tony Adams. England lost 2-0.

As the following domestic season got under way, Ince won his tenth England cap in a 3-0 win over Poland which kept alive their World Cup qualification hopes, though required a victory over the Netherlands in Rotterdam a month later. In a controversial match, Holland beat England 2-0 and qualification hopes had gone. Ince scored twice - his first and only international goals - as the qualifying campaign ended with a 7-1 thumping of San Marino in Bolognamarker. England had needed to win by seven clear goals and hope the Netherlands lost to Poland. Neither occurred, and England failed to qualify.

Manchester United continued to dominate the domestic game and Ince was the midfield general in the side which won the "double" of Premiership and FA Cup in 1994. A year later and Ince suffered more of the all too familiar chants of JUDAS when he and Manchester United went to West Ham on the last day of the season, needing a win to reclaim their Premiership crown. Sadly for them, they could only draw the game and Blackburn Roversmarker took the title. It went from bad to worse as Ince featured then in the United team which also lost the FA Cup final to Everton. During that season, his central midfield partner Roy Keane had missed 17 of United's 42 league games due to injury, meaning that Ince often found himself partnered with Brian McClair and - particularly towards the end of the season - the 20-year-old Nicky Butt.

In the summer of 1995, Ferguson sold him to Inter Milan for £7.5 million - at the time it was one of the costliest transfer fees involving an English player. Ferguson had long sustained a tempestuous relationship with Ince, labelling him a "bottler" and a "fucking big-time Charlie", which many fans saw as the prime reason for Ince being sold, rather than on footballing or economic grounds. Ince's sale caused massive unrest among United supporters, and the discontent deepened when United turned to the much younger Nicky Butt as his successor rather than buying a more experienced player. A similar uproar followed the subsequent sale of Ince's team mates Mark Hughes and Andrei Kanchelskis, although the younger players who filled their places in the team contributed greatly to United's "double double" success in the 1995-96 season as well as the triumphs of subsequent seasons.

While at United, Ince had collected two Premier League title medals as well as two FA Cup winner's medals and one winner's medal each in the European Cup Winners' Cup and Football League Cup. He had also collected runners-up medal's in the League Cup twice and the FA Cup once.

Internazionale Milano

In the 1995/1996 season Inter failed to challenge for a 14th scudetto, finishing seventh in the Serie A. Ince, though, had a great first season, playing in all but four of Inter's league matches and performing well after a slow start which had started speculation of a November transfer window move to Arsenal. The next year, Ince had another successful season with the nerazzurri, scoring 6 times in 24 matches in the championship - in which Inter finished third - and also playing his part in Inter's run through to the UEFA Cup Final. Ince scored in the third round second-leg match away to Boavista as Inter swept all before them before meeting Schalke in the Final. Ince didn't play in the away first-leg as Inter lost 1-0 but he returned to the line-up for the home match which the Italians won 1-0 thanks to a goal from Ivan Zamorano. Penalties were again a heart breaker for Ince though, as Schalke won 4-1 in the resulting penalty shootout.

Despite being offered a new, improved contract by club president Massimo Moratti, Ince decided that after two years away it was time to move home and he left Inter.

Euro 96

For all his PR problems during the 1990s, Ince was still a regular choice for England squads, though he played few games for new coach Terry Venables in the long sequence of friendly and mini-tournament matches which were necessary as England were hosting the next major tournament (the 1996 European Championships) and therefore didn't have a qualifying campaign. With Ince now playing in Italy, it meant that Venables was unable to watch him play very often, though by everyone's admission Ince's two-year spell in Serie A, unlike many British footballers who had gone there, was a big success.

When Euro 96 got under way, Ince was in the England team as the midfield ball winner and got the label of "Gazza's minder" whose job was to create room for Paul Gascoigne to exploit with his natural ball skills. Though the first group game ended in a disappointing 1-1 draw at Wembley against Switzerland, England went on to defeat the old enemy Scotland 2-0 and then put on a display regarded as "total football" against (ironically) the Netherlands, the team whose performances at the 1974 World Cup had first prompted the phrase's coining. Ince was fouled for a penalty which gave England the lead and helped them towards a 4-1 win; he also picked up a yellow card which rendered him unavailable for the quarter final against Spain, which England won on penalties.

Venables put Ince back in the side for the semifinal against Germany, replacing the suspended Gary Neville as England switched systems to a back three, accommodating Ince in central midfield with Paul Gascoigne and David Platt. Ince and England played superbly but could only manage a 1-1 draw and England lost the penalty shoot out. Ince received criticism for not taking a penalty (the crucial missed kick from Gareth Southgate was England's sixth) and for spending the whole shoot out sitting down in the centre circle with Steve McManaman with their backs to goal.

Another new England coach came on the scene in Glenn Hoddle and Ince kept his place for the next six internationals, which included five crucial qualifiers for the 1998 World Cup in France. England won four of them but lost 1-0 at home to Italy. During the first of these qualifiers against Moldova in Chişinăumarker, a famous photograph of Ince was taken as he tried to climb a wall at the stadium, only for Gascoigne to pull his tracksuit trousers down, revealing Ince's bare buttocks in front of an army of cameras.

Ince won his 30th England cap in May 1997 as England beat Poland 2-0 in Chorzowmarker to leave them with an opportunity to get through to the World Cup provided they could beat Moldova at Wembley and then not lose to Italy in Romemarker. Moldova were duly dispatched 4-0 and Ince, in an incident reminiscent of Terry Butcher against Sweden seven years earlier, started the Italy match with a white England shirt and ended it with a red one after his own blood soaked the shirt following a deep cut to his head. The game ended goalless and England had qualified.

Liverpool and World Cup 1998

By now, Ince was back in England to play his club football, having left Internazionale in order for his son Thomas, approaching his fifth birthday, to attend an English school. He joined Liverpool for more than £4 million – a move which surprised many because of the long history of rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool, and few players had ever appeared for both of these clubs during their careers. Indeed, only one player (Phil Chisnall, who was signed by Liverpool in the 1960s) has ever been transferred between the two clubs.

According to Graham Le Saux's autobiography, Ince's homophobic taunting and Le Saux's reaction during a 1997 Liverpool - Chelsea match has resulted in a long running coolness between the two players, despite the fact that Le Saux is not actually gay.

Ince won no honours in his first season with Liverpool as his new club were in the midst of a transitional period where they were cast as 'nearly men' and, rather derogatorily, 'Spice Boys' – a term coined to describe the likes of team mates and good friends of Ince's like Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler, Jason McAteer and Jamie Redknapp as underachieving playboys in the game; the term itself is derived from the name of the contemporary pop-group, the Spice Girls.

Ince was selected in the England squad for the World Cup in 1998, winning his 40th cap in the opening group game against Tunisia in Marseillemarker. England got through the group but succumbed in the second round to Argentina, again after a penalty shoot out. This time Ince did take a penalty but saw it saved.

Ince's second season with Liverpool was again trophyless (seventh place in the league meant they wouldn't even be competing in the UEFA Cup the following season) but he achieved a personal high point when he scored a late equalizer against Manchester United at Anfieldmarker and celebrated with some ferocity in front of the Spion Kop, though it wasn't enough to deprive United of the Premier League title that formed part of their treble success.

Middlesbrough and Euro 2000

In the summer of 1999, however, Liverpool coach Gérard Houllier put Ince on the transfer list and the 31-year-old signed for Middlesbrough for £1 million, who were still managed by Ince's former team-mate Bryan Robson.

Ince stayed in the England team (now managed by Kevin Keegan) and helped them qualify for the 2000 European Championships in the Netherlandsmarker and Belgiummarker and was named in the squad for the finals.

In a friendly against Malta prior to the finals, Ince came on as a substitute and won his 50th cap. He duly played in all three of England's group games of the tournament – winning a penalty against Romania in the last game – but England lost two of three matches and were eliminated. Ince immediately retired from the England scene after 53 caps, with just those two goals against San Marino on his scoring records.

Ince concentrated on club football thereafter in his role as club captain, playing three seasons making 106 appearances with 9 goals at Middlesbrough before he was given a free transfer in 2002.


Ince joined Wolverhampton Wanderers and was playing outside a national top division for the first time since his one brief appearance there for West Ham in 1989, prior to his move to Manchester United. That said, Ince was in the Wolves team which won promotion to the Premier League as Division One playoff winners in his first season. They were relegated after just one season in the top flight (their first since 1983-84), but Ince helped them beat his old club Manchester United 1-0 in mid January and chose to stay with Wolves despite their relegation.

Ince was expected to retire at the end of the 2004-05 season, but he changed his mind halfway through the season following the appointment of Glenn Hoddle as manager of a Wolves side who were struggling at the wrong end of a league they had been expected to win promotion from. In June 2005, he signed a new one-year contract with Wolves. In April 2006, he announced that he wanted to continue playing for Wolves for a further season after speaking with his close friend Teddy Sheringham. However, following Ince's failure to get the manager's job at Wolves in July 2006 on Hoddle's resignation, the newly appointed manager, Mick McCarthy, decided not to offer Ince a new contract. Upon leaving, Ince declared his intention to return, at some point in the future, as manager of Wolves.

Managerial career

Swindon Town (player-coach)

After much speculation and prolonged discussions - On 31 August 2006, Paul Ince signed a one-year contract with Swindon Town as a player/coach. Swindon were rumoured to have beaten the likes of Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion for his signature. A key factor in the transfer was Ince's long standing friendship with Town manager Dennis Wise, who had played alongside him occasionally in the England team during the 1990s. He made his full debut for Swindon in the 2-1 victory over MK Dons on 12 September 2006.

Ince only played one other game for Swindon after the MK victory - before the club announced that Ince had felt he could not fulfil his playing duties with the club and that his contract had been terminated by mutual consent, although he continued coaching at the club to complete his coaching badges.

Macclesfield Town

On 23 October 2006, Ince was confirmed as the new player-manager of Macclesfield Town in succession to Brian Horton. However, he was ineligible to play for the Silkmen until January when the transfer window opened, as Swindon Town still held his registration. He joined Macclesfield with the club bottom of League Two, seven points off their nearest rivals. He then revived confidence and after a 3-0 win against Chester they managed to climb off the bottom of the table. They subsequently avoided relegation, albeit on the last day of the season. On 4 January 2007 Ince was named as League Two Manager of the Month for December. Ince played his last game of professional football on 5 May 2007 in Macclesfield's 1-1 home draw with Notts County coming off the substitute bench to replace Alan Navarro in the 85th minute of play.

Milton Keynes Dons (2007 - 08)

Ince was unveiled as the new Milton Keynes Dons manager along with his assistant Ray Mathias and fitness coach Duncan Russell on 25 June 2007. The Dons reached the top of their Division in September 2007 and other clubs began to take a serious interest. In October and November 2007, he denied rumours that he was being linked with managerless Premiership teams Wigan, Derby County and Championship team Norwich City.

Ince was named as League Two "manager of the month" in October and December 2007, and again in April 2008.

Ince's first silverware as manager came in the Football League Trophy Final at Wembleymarker on 31 March 2008, with the MK Dons defeating Grimsby Town 2-0. He then secured the Dons' return to Coca-Cola League 1 in April 2008 after they beat 3-2.On 26 April, the Dons became League Two champions after they beat 2-1.

Blackburn Rovers

In the close-season it was speculated that Ince had been contacted by Blackburn Roversmarker in their search to appoint a new manager, something that Ince himself denied. However, the BBC reported that Ince would be named as Blackburn manager by the end of the week of 19 June. He was appointed on 22 June and became the first black British manager in England's top division.On the first day of the 2008–09 FA Premier League season, Blackburn Rovers faced Evertonat Goodison Parkmarker - this was Paul Ince's first premiership game with Blackburn Roversmarker. David Dunn opened the scoring for Ince's side and Roque Santa Cruz and Andre Ooijer later scored in a 3–2 win. Ince's 2008 summer signings included England international goalkeeper Paul Robinson, Julio Santa Cruz, Danny Simpson (Loan), Vince Grella, Carlos Villanueva (Loan), Robbie Fowler, Mark Bunn and Keith Andrews.

After winning just three games in 17, Ince was sacked on 16 December 2008 after just six months in charge. Ince had been with Blackburn only 177 days, one of the shortest reigns of a Premier League manager. Blackburn fans had been demanding his removal following a 5–3 loss to Manchester United at Old Traffordmarker in the Carling Cup on 3 December 2008. At the game, the crowd could be heard chanting "You don't know what you're doing" and "We want Incey out" as well as singing the name of their former manager Graeme Souness.

Ince cited his failure at Blackburn Rovers as being due to a lack of financial backing, conditions that were known to Ince at the time of signing for the club. Ince did, however, spend over £10 million on Paul Robinson, Vince Grella and Keith Andrews regardless of these restrictions.

Milton Keynes Dons (2009 - )

On 3 July 2009, Ince re-signed for Milton Keynes Dons on a two-year deal.



Club Season League Cup League Cup Europe Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
West Ham United 1986–87 10 1 1 0 0
1987–88 28 3 1 0 0
1988–89 33 3 1 0 2 0
1989–90 1 0 7 1 6 3
Total 72 7 10 1 9 3
Manchester United 1989–90 26 0 7 0 3 2 0 0 0 0 36 2
1990–91 31 3 2 0 6 0 7 0 1 0 47 3
1991–92 33 3 3 0 7 0 3 0 1 0 47 3
1992–93 41 6 2 0 3 0 1 0 0 0 47 6
1993–94 39 8 7 1 5 0 4 0 1 0 56 9
1994–95 36 5 6 0 0 0 5 0 1 1 48 6
Total 206 25 27 1 24 2 20 0 4 1 281 29
Internazionale 1995-96 30 3 5 0 0 0
1996-97 24 7 4 2 10 1
Total 54 10 9 2 10 1
Liverpool 1997–98 31 8 1 0 4 0 4 0 0 0 40 8
1998–99 34 6 2 1 2 1 3 1 0 0 41 9
Total 65 14 3 1 6 1 7 1 0 0 81 17
Middlesbrough 1999–2000 32 3 0 0 3 1
2000-01 30 2 3 0 3 0
2001-02 31 2 4 1 0 0
Total 93 7 7 1 6 1
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2002-03 37 2 3 1 2 0 3 0
2003-04 32 2 1 0 2 0
2004-05 28 3 2 0 1 1
2005-06 18 3 2 0 0 0
Total 115 10 8 1 5 1
Swindon Town 2006-07 3 0 0 0 0 0
Macclesfield Town 2006-07 1 0 0 0 0 0
Total 609 73 57 6 50 8


Team Nat From To Record
G W L D Win %
Macclesfield Town 23 October 2006 25 June 2007

Milton Keynes Dons 25 June 2007 21 June 2008

Blackburn Roversmarker 22 June 2008 16 December 2008

Milton Keynes Dons 3 July 2009


Updated on 18 September 2009


Manchester United

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Managerial Honours

With Milton Keynes Dons


His son Thomas is currently member of the England national under-17 football team and plays club football for his former club Liverpool.


  1. 10 key moments in UK race relations.
  2. Belton, Brian (2006). The Black Hammers p.76 Pennant Books. ISBN 0-9550394-5-2
  3. Wonderful World of West Ham United statistics Paul Ince
  4. Blackburn's Paul Ince enjoys return to big time - Telegraph
  5. Ferguson: my regrets over Ince feud - Guardian
  7. Macclesfield appoint Ince as boss.
  8. Includes other competitive competitions, including Football League One play-offs, the FA Community Shield, and the UEFA Super Cup.
  9. Paul Ince's son Thomas handed Liverpool contract

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