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Raymond Colin Wilkins MBE (born 14 September 1956 in Hillingdonmarker, Middlesexmarker), often known as "Butch" Wilkins, is an Englishmarker former football player and coach, and is also an occasional television pundit. He is the brother of former Brighton & Hove Albion manager and player Dean Wilkins. He is currently the assistant manager of Chelsea.

He was a key midfielder for the England national football team during the 1980s, and enjoyed success at various clubs including Chelsea, Manchester United, Milan, QPR and Rangers.

Career

Early career

The son of professional footballer George Wilkins, Wilkins (nicknamed Butch from childhood) made his name in the 1970s with boyhood club Chelsea, whom he joined as an apprentice, progressing to his first team debut against Norwich City in October 1973. His brothers Graham and Stephen also joined Chelsea around this time, though did not achieve the same heights in the game as Ray. He made sporadic further appearances for the rest of that season before establishing himself as a fixture in the side the following year.

In 1975, following relegation and the departure of many of the club's established players, an 18-year old Wilkins was handed the captaincy of Chelsea by new manager Eddie McCreadie, taking it from long-time Blues captain Ron Harris. He took to the role well, maintaining it for four years. He emerged as Chelsea's key player in this period, leading a team of mainly young players to promotion again in 1976-77 and consolidation in the First Division in the next season. His rapid success, along with his dark good looks, also saw Wilkins becoming a regular feature in British teenybopper magazines, mostly as a pin-up. However, the sudden departure of McCreadie was a massive blow to the club, and Chelsea were relegated in 1978-79. Shortly afterwards debt-ridden Chelsea accepted an offer of £800,000 from Manchester United and Wilkins headed north.

Wilkins was called up to play for England for the first time in 1976 by coach Don Revie and quickly made his debut against Italy during a mini-tournament in the U.S.marker. He was to become a permanent fixture in England squads for a decade to come.

Golden era

Maligned in some quarters for supposed "negative" play (he was deemed more likely to pass a ball sideways rather than forwards - earning him semi-affectionate nicknames like Squareball Wilkins and The Crab), Wilkins nevertheless became one of his country's most sought-after players. His first season with Manchester United was uneventful, with domestic honours continuing to elude him, but he achieved one of his career highs after helping England qualify for the 1980 European Championships in Italymarker - the first tournament England had reached for a decade.

During a group game against Belgium, Wilkins scored a memorable goal when he lobbed the whole Belgian defence and, in one movement, latched on to the ball (thereby breaching the Belgians` obvious offside trap) and delivered a second lob, this time over the head of the goalkeeper and into the net to put England ahead. The Belgians swiftly equalised and a disappointing England failed to make progress from their group.

Wilkins remained a fixture for England through a successful campaign to qualify for the 1982 World Cup in Spainmarker, which England exited at the second group stage.

In 1983, Wilkins scored in the FA Cup final for Manchester United to put them 2-1 up against Brighton and Hove Albion. It was a goal of great quality and also some rarity as it had taken Wilkins three years to get his first United goal. A Brighton attack broke down and the ball reached United midfielder Arnold Muhren just inside his own half. Wilkins made a run to the right to give Muhren an outlet, and was forced to control the Dutchman's pass on his chest after the slippery Wembleymarker surface caused a bad bounce. Wilkins finally trapped the ball on the right hand side of the area and instinctively cut inside to look for a square pass across the 18 yard box. No team-mate had matched his run in time (even though Wilkins was a player with a quick brain rather than quick legs) so Wilkins instead curled a left-foot shot of great accuracy into the top corner of the Brighton net. He was so enthralled that he sprinted to the back of the stadium to celebrate with the United fans - something he immediately regretted as it rendered him exhausted for the rest of the game which ended 2-2 after extra-time. He got his winners' medal after United won the replay 4-0.

Over the next season, Wilkins continued to play for England under new coach Bobby Robson but they failed to qualify for the 1984 European Championships. The same summer, United accepted an offer of £1.5 million from Italian giants Milan. Though Wilkins and his family settled quickly in Italy, it wasn't a successful era for Milan (even though they reached the final of the Coppa Italia in 1985). Wilkins was allowed to leave in 1987 to join Frenchmarker outfit Paris Saint-Germain.

However, Wilkins was still an England regular and he was chosen for the squad which qualified for the 1986 World Cup in Mexicomarker. He played in the opening defeat against Portugal but didn't last the full 90 minutes in the next group game against Morocco after receiving a red card for the only time in his career, making him the first England player to be sent off in a World Cup finals match. In disagreeing with a decision made by the referee, Wilkins threw the ball towards the official - but hit him with it. He was suspended for the next two games and was not reinstated by the time the quarter final against Argentina came round, which England lost 2-1. Wilkins made his 84th and final England appearance in November 1986. He had scored three international goals and had been captain on ten occasions.

On leaving Paris after just four months, Wilkins joined Rangers for £250,000 and won two Scottish league title and one Scottish League Cup, as well as scoring a memorable goal in an Old Firm derby against Celtic about which Rangers fans continue to talk. Such was his enjoyment of his time at Rangers, and the fans' love for him, Wilkins was reduced to tears after his final game with the club.

Next stop for Wilkins was QPR after his family decided that a decade away from London was long enough. Wilkins spent four years with QPR and not long after moving to Loftus Roadmarker there was even talk that he would rejoin Manchester United (now managed by Alex Ferguson), but this never happened. He remained at QPR until the summer of 1994, when he accepted an offer to become player-coach of Crystal Palace, who had been promoted to the Premier League under manager Alan Smith. However, he broke his left foot on his debut for the club, and did not play a competitive game for them again. On recovery from the injury, he accepted an offer from QPR to become their new player-manager after Gerry Francis left in November 1994.

His appearances during his spell as player-manager of QPR were less frequent. In his first season they did reasonably well, finishing eighth in the Premier League and reaching the FA Cup quarter-finals. But leading goalscorer Les Ferdinand was sold to Newcastle United in the 1995 close season and Wilkins failed to find a suitable successor. A shortage of goals cost QPR their Premier League status and they were relegated in second from bottom place (19th) at the end of 1995-96.

Wilkins left QPR at the start of the 1996-97 season after the club was bought by media tycoon Chris Wright following the relegation from the FA Premier League. There followed spells at Wycombe Wanderers, Hibernian, Millwall, and Leyton Orient before he finally retired from playing at the end of that season.

Fulham and beyond

In 1997, Wilkins became the manager of Fulham, with former England teammate Kevin Keegan as "Chief Operating Officer" under him. Wilkins managed to take the big-spending side to the Second Division play-offs, but was sacked by chairman Mohamed Al-Fayed before the first game took place after Fulham lost the last three games of the regular season. Kevin Keegan, who replaced Wilkins, failed in his bid to guide the side through the play-offs that season. The two, once close England team-mates, have had frosty relations since.

After leaving Fulham, Wilkins worked as a coach at Chelsea and Watford under Gianluca Vialli, on both occasions being sacked along with Vialli (in September 2000 and July 2002 respectively). He spent the next year working mainly as a pundit before joining Millwall as assistant manager to Dennis Wise in October 2003. Wilkins left the club along with Wise in May 2005, but returned in a consultancy role from March to October 2006. He continues to work as a pundit with Sky Sports.

Ray Wilkins was assistant to Peter Taylor with the England under 21's until Peter left in early 2007. Ray was not retained by incoming head coach Stuart Pearce.

In September 2008 he was appointed as assistant first team coach to Luiz Felipe Scolari at Chelsea, following Steve Clarke's departure to West Ham United.

In November 2008 he accused Arsenal of undermining the Carling Cup competition by playing its talented youth side. The Young Gunners with an average age of 19 subsequently trounced a full strength Wigan outfit 3–0 in their 4th round tie at the Emirates. This was followed by Chelsea suffering a shock penalty shootout loss on home turf to Championship side Burnley after leading.

In February 2009, following Scolari's shock sacking, Wilkins was appointed as Chelsea's caretaker manager for the Fifth round FA Cup tie with Watford. Chelsea won the game 3–1, through a Nicolas Anelka hat trick, with the clubs new manager Guus Hiddink watching from the stands.

Wilkins famously provided the voice of the nonplussed pundit ("Super, Ralph") on the ads for the soft drink Tango in the 1990s. The ads were memorable for a large orange man slapping people who were consuming the drink, as if to emphasise the orange flavour. This was later changed from slapping to kissing after complaints from the public. The voice of the over-excited commentator alongside Wilkins was provided by comedian and mimic Hugh Dennis.

Statistics

Manager

Team Country From To Record
G W D L Win %
QPR 15 November 1994 4 September 1996 80 31 13 36
Fulham 25 September 1997 7 May 1998 44 21 8 15
Chelsea (caretaker) 13 September 2000 17 September 2000 1 1 0 0 100.00
Chelsea (caretaker) 9 February 2009 15 February 2009 1 1 0 0 100.00
Total 126 54 21 51


Honours

Player

Club

Manchester United


Rangers


International

England


References



External links




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