Gary McAllister

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Gary McAllister
Gary McAllister 2010.jpg
McAllister during Jamie Carragher's testimonial in 2010
Personal information
Full name Gary McAllister
Date of birth (1964-12-25) December 25, 1964 (age 54)
Place of birth Motherwell, Scotland
Height 6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Liverpool (Ambassador)
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1981–1985 Motherwell 70 (8)
1985–1990 Leicester City 201 (46)
1990–1996 Leeds United 231 (31)
1996–2000 Coventry City 119 (20)
2000–2002 Liverpool 55 (5)
2002–2004 Coventry City 55 (10)
Total 720 (129)
National team
1990–1999 Scotland 59 (5)
Teams managed
2002–2004 Coventry City
2008 Leeds United
2011 Aston Villa (caretaker)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Gary McAllister MBE (born 25 December 1964) is a retired Scottish professional football player.

McAllister played primarily as a midfielder, in a successful career spanning over nineteen years. He started his career at local side Motherwell before moving south of the border to Leicester City at the age of 20. He then went on to play for Leeds United, and he later had spells at Coventry City intersected by a brief, yet successful, stint at Liverpool.

McAllister also represented his national side for nine years, winning 59 caps and scoring five goals.[1] His leadership qualities were noticed, and he spent four successful years as Scotland captain in addition to two seasons as Leeds United captain. He was awarded an MBE in the 2001 New Year Honours in recognition of his contribution to football.[2]

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 manager in April 2002.[3] He resigned a month later and did not enter management again until he returned to Elland Road in January 2008 to replace Dennis Wise.[4] In April 2011, McAllister became the caretaker manager at Premier League club Aston Villa, due to the ill health of manager Gérard Houllier.

Club career


McAllister began his playing career at his local side Motherwell. His senior debut was away to Queen of the South on 1 May 1982. McAllister scored eight goals in 70 appearances, culminating in a fine performance in the 1985 Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic.[5] With Motherwell he was more often a striker than a midfielder.

Leicester City

McAllister's performances in the cup caught the eye of Leicester City manager Gordon Milne. He signed for the English club, along with Motherwell team-mate Ally Mauchlen, for a combined fee of £350,000 in August 1985.[5] 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 Second Division 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 flourish.

Over the following three seasons his reputation quickly grew into being one of the best players in the Second Division, boosted by a respectable goal tally from midfield that included an uncommon number of well-executed strikes from unfavourable positions. He was named in the Second Division PFA Team of the Year in both 1988-89 and 1989-90 and was the subject of constant transfer speculation and interest by several First Division sides throughout the following term. 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.[6]

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.[7] 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 Premier League – 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.

During the 1992–93 season, McAllister made his debut in the UEFA Champions League. He scored in matches against VfB Stuttgart[8] and Rangers,[9] but Leeds were knocked out by the latter in a match hyped as the Battle of Britain.[10]

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 Stadium. He led his team out in the 1996 League Cup Final, where they were beaten 3–0 by Aston Villa.

In his six seasons with Leeds United, 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 £3million - a large sum for a player aged over 30. His move to the Midlands club came less than a year after he had scored a hat-trick against them for Leeds.[11]

He stayed there for four seasons and played firstly under Ron Atkinson and then former Leeds team-mate Gordon Strachan. McAllister was a big name recruit to Big Ron's team of 96–97. Yet the side, well garnished with typical Atkinson flair 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 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, Coventry's habit of letting opponents off the hook and failing to find any kind of edge away from home prevented a top 10 finish. The line-up included the likes of Robbie Keane, Mustapha Hadji, Carlton Palmer, Mo Konjić 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, McAllister won over the fans and remains a respected figure at Coventry City. During his time at the Sky Blues he played 140 games and scored 26 goals. As he is remembered by many most fondly for his time at the Sky Blues, McAllister has informally been bestowed with the honour of having a drink named after him. A 'Gary Mac' is a Blue coloured alcopop and 140ml of Vodka, which whose pale cyan tones are reminiscent of McAllister's playing strip during his spell in the Midlands.


On 1 July 2000, McAllister completed a surprise move to Liverpool in a Bosman transfer.[12] 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 Anfield, he played an integral role in the team that won a treble of cups in the 2000–01 season. Houllier described McAllister as his "most inspirational signing".[7]

McAllister 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 Barcelona in the UEFA Cup semi-final[13] and followed it up with a memorable 44-yard free-kick that won the Merseyside derby against local rivals Everton in the fourth minute of stoppage time,[14] thereby cementing himself into Anfield folklore. Further examples of this talent came in the run-in against Coventry City[15] and Bradford City.[16] These vital goals helped Liverpool to qualify for the Champions League and led many[who?] to suggest that the club should have signed him ten years earlier.[citation needed]

Liverpool's first trophy of the season came in the Football League Cup Final. After replacing Steven Gerrard as a 78th minute substitute, McAllister scored the team's opening penalty kick in a 5–4 shootout win over Birmingham City. He again 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.[17] Four days later, he was named in the starting line-up in the UEFA Cup Final against Deportivo Alavés in Dortmund. McAllister scored one, and had a hand in three, of the five Liverpool goals in a memorable 5–4 victory. In the 117th minute, McAllister's free-kick was deflected by Alaves' Delfi Geli into his own net for the winning golden goal.[18] He was awarded the man of the match award for his efforts, with BBC pundit and former Liverpool defender Alan Hansen stating, "Gary McAllister was outstanding. At 36, to keep going the way he did, keep taking those free-kicks and producing it when it counted, was sensational. He fully deserved his man of the match award."[19]

McAllister began the following season by scoring a penalty in Liverpool's 2–1 win over Manchester United in the Charity Shield.[20] He started the club's opening Champions League fixture, a 1–1 draw with Boavista at Anfield.[21] McAllister left Anfield on 13 May 2002 to take up the role of player-manager of Coventry City.[3] He ended his Liverpool career with an emotional send-off with a substitute appearance in a 5–0 win over Ipswich Town.[22] 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.[7]

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.[23] This is one of the qualities that have led to his nickname The Enforcer by which he was known throughout his career.[24] 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.[25]

International career

After scoring the equaliser on his debut for Scotland B against France in April 1987, McAllister debuted for Scotland in a friendly against East Germany in the buildup to the 1990 FIFA World Cup.[26] Though he was included in the squad for the tournament, he did not make an appearance as Scotland were eliminated in the first round.[26]

In October 1990, McAllister scored his first goal for Scotland in a UEFA Euro 1992 qualifier against Switzerland. He appeared in all three of Scotland's group stage matches at the tournament, scoring in a 3–0 win over the CIS.[26] However, Scotland did not qualify from their group.

Scotland failed to qualify for the 1994 FIFA World Cup but did qualify for UEFA Euro 1996 in England, with McAllister the captain of the team. Scotland's second match of the group stage was against England at Wembley Stadium. In the second half Scotland, trailing 0–1 to an Alan Shearer goal, were awarded a penalty. McAllister's kick was saved by David Seaman and Scotland lost 0–2. The team won their next match against Switzerland but were eliminated on goals scored.

McAllister earned his 50th cap in a 1998 FIFA World Cup qualifier with Sweden.[26] The team ultimately qualified for the tournament, finishing second to Austria. McAllister scored an important penalty kick in a match away to Belarus in qualifying,[27] but he missed the finals through injury.[28]

On 31 March 1999, McAllister returned to the Scotland team, captaining the side in a UEFA Euro 2000 qualification game against the Czech Republic at Celtic Park. McAllister was booed by sections of the crowd and announced his retirement from international football soon after.[28] Despite later attempts by manager Craig Brown to convince McAllister to return, the playmaker did not add to his 57 caps.[29]

Coaching career

Coventry City

McAllister left Liverpool in May 2002 to take up the role of player-manager at Coventry City.[3] After an indifferent spell as manager,[citation needed] he resigned on 12 January 2004 so that he could devote more time to his family. McAllister's former assistant, Eric Black, replaced him three days later.

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 manager of Leeds United on 29 January 2008 with an initial contract until the end of the season.[4] The club was sitting in sixth place after former boss Dennis Wise's surprise departure to Newcastle. McAllister's first game came four days after his appointment, a 1–0 away defeat to Southend United.[30] Leeds lost their next 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,[31] before following it up with his first home victory against Bournemouth, in which Leeds beat the relegation-threatened side 2–0.[32]

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.[33] 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.[34] Leeds secured a spot in the play-offs with a 1–0 at Yeovil Town on 25 April 2008, but they lost 1–0 to Doncaster Rovers in the play-off final. During his second season as manager, McAllister was sacked on 21 December 2008 after a poor string of results.[35] These included an FA Cup defeat to part-time club Histon and culminated with a 3-1 loss to MK Dons.[35]

After Leeds

Since being sacked by Leeds he has made his interest known for the Motherwell manager's job, which he did not manage to get. On 22 September 2009, it was revealed that he was in talks with Scotland about replacing Steven Pressley as Scotland's third coach; however, on 25 September 2009, it was revealed that he rejected the opportunity as he was holding out for a job at club level.[36] On 29 September 2009, it was reported that McAllister would become Portsmouth assistant manager, but he couldn't agree a deal with the club.[37]

On 20 May 2010, he was appointed as Middlesbrough first-team coach, where he teamed up again with Gordon Strachan.[38] He made a return to the field to take part in Jamie Carragher's testimonial match.[39] On 18 September 2010, it was announced on the official Aston Villa website that McAllister had accepted an offer from Gérard Houllier to become the next assistant manager at Villa Park. McAllister had previously played under Houllier when the Frenchman was in charge of Liverpool.[40][41]

After Houllier was rushed to hospital, McAllister was made caretaker manager for a Premier League game against Stoke, which ended in a 1-1 draw. After McAllister led Aston Villa to a 2-1 away win against Arsenal and a 1-0 home win over Liverpool, he continued as caretaker for the remainder of the 2010/11 season. With Houllier having to step down to due ill health, it was announced on 17 June 2011 that after the appointment of Alex McLeish as manager that McAllister would not return to the club as part of the new coaching team.


McAllister was appointed first team coach at Liverpool in July 2015.[42][43] He left the position on 8 October 2015 after the sacking of Brendan Rodgers, but was appointed to an ambassadorial position at the club.[44][45]

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 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 33 8
1986–87 39 9 1 1 3 1 0 0 0 0 43 11
1987–88 Div 2 42 9 1 0 4 1 0 0 3 0 50 10
1988–89 46 11 1 0 5 1 0 0 1 0 53 12
1989–90 43 10 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 45 10
Total   201 46 5 2 15 3 0 0 4 0 225 52
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 ? ? ? ? ? ? 14 3

International goals

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 17 October 1990 Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland   Switzerland 2–1 Win UEFA Euro 1992 qualifying
2. 20 May 1992 Varsity Stadium, Toronto, Canada  Canada 1–3 Win Friendly
4. 18 June 1992 Idrottsparken, Norrköping, Sweden  CIS 0–3 Win UEFA Euro 1992
5. 8 June 1997 Dynama Stadium, Minsk, Belarus  Belarus 0–1 Win 1998 World Cup qualification
Correct as of 13 January 2013[46]


Club honours

Leeds United

Personal honours

Managerial statistics

Team Nat From To Record
P W D L GF GA Win %
Coventry City England April 2002 December 2003 76 21 26 29 89 103 27.63
Leeds United England January 2008 December 2008 50 25 8 17 84 61 50.00
Aston Villa (caretaker) England 16 April 2011 1 June 2011 5 2 2 1 6 5 40.00
Total 131 48 36 47 179 169 36.64


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External links

Preceded by
Gordon Strachan
Leeds United Captain
Succeeded by
Lucas Radebe