Mo Johnston

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Mo Johnston
Personal information
Full name Maurice John Giblin Johnston
Date of birth (1963-04-13) 13 April 1963 (age 56)
Place of birth Glasgow, Scotland
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Playing position Striker
Youth career
Milton Battlefield
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1981–1983 Partick Thistle 85 (41)
1983–1984 Watford 38 (23)
1984–1987 Celtic 99 (52)
1987–1989 Nantes 66 (22)
1989–1991 Rangers 76 (31)
1991–1993 Everton 34 (10)
1993–1994 Hearts 35 (5)
1994–1996 Falkirk 41 (6)
1996–2001 Kansas City Wizards 149 (31)
Total 623 (221)
National team
1984–1992 Scotland 38 (14)
Teams managed
2005–2006 New York Red Bulls
2007–2008 Toronto FC

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

† Appearances (goals)

Maurice John Giblin "Mo" Johnston (born 13 April 1963) is a Scottish former footballer who played as a striker.

Johnston began his football career with Partick Thistle in 1981 before moving to Watford in 1983. With Watford Johnston scored 23 league goals, made his international debut, and helped the team reach the 1984 FA Cup Final. After just over a season with Watford Johnston moved to Celtic where he became a prolific goalscorer with a return of 72 goals in 128 matches, winning the Scottish Cup in 1985 and League Championship in 1986. Johnston left Celtic for Nantes in 1987 before returning to Scotland with Rangers. In doing so he became only the second player to have played for both sides of the Old Firm since World War II (the first was Alfie Conn) and the most high profile Catholic to have played for Rangers. After winning two Premier League titles with Rangers and scoring 46 goals in 100 games Johnston moved to Everton. Johnston played out the rest of his career with Hearts, Falkirk and American MLS side Kansas City Wizards before retiring in 2001. Since his retirement Johnston has become a coach in MLS.

Johnston received his first international cap in 1984; he represented Scotland 38 times scoring 14 goals and appeared for his country at the 1990 World Cup. He was most recently the manager later and Director of Soccer at Major League Soccer club Toronto FC[1] until he was fired on 14 September 2010.[2]

Club career

Partick Thistle

Johnston started his career in 1981 with Partick Thistle and scored 41 goals in two and a half seasons there.


Johnston then moved on to English club Watford for a fee of £200,000 in November 1983, when they were struggling against relegation from the First Division a season after finishing second. His arrival revived their season as they recovered well to finish mid table, as he scored 20 goals in just 29 league games. He also helped them reach their first ever FA Cup Final, which they lost 2-0 to Everton. He began the 1984-85 season still at Vicarage Road and got three goals in nine First Division games before returning to Scotland.[3]


Johnston scored 14 league goals in 27 games during his first season at the club. In 1985-86 he scored 15 goals from 32 Premier Division games as Celtic won the Premier Division title. During the 1986-87 season Johnston scored 23 goals from 40 games, though this time it was Rangers not Celtic who were champions.[3]


Johnston moved on to French club Nantes in 1987 and scored 22 goals in two seasons there. After initially claiming he would never return to Scotland, Johnston reconsidered and appeared at a press conference to announce that he would sign for Celtic at the end of his contract with Nantes.


In July 1989, Johnston opted not to return to Celtic (who had recently sold his replacement Frank McAvennie back to West Ham United) and instead joined Graeme Souness's Rangers. From the early 20th century onwards, Catholics had not been knowingly signed by Rangers, nor employed in other prominent roles as an 'unwritten rule'.[4][5][6][7] Johnston was "their first major Roman Catholic signing".[8] He was the highest-profile Catholic to sign for the club since the World War I era, though other Catholics had signed for Rangers before.[4][9] The move angered both Celtic and Rangers supporters. Some Rangers fans burned scarves and threatened to hand in season tickets over the signing, while Celtic fans referred to Johnston as Judas.[10][11] Rangers' kitman protested by making Johnston arrange his own kit and withholding from him the chocolate bars dispensed to other players.[10] He won over a lot of Rangers fans in November 1989 when he scored an injury time winner for Rangers against former club and bitter rivals Celtic.


On 18 November 1991, Johnston signed to Everton for £1.5m, forming a three-man strikeforce alongside Tony Cottee and Peter Beardsley. He scored seven goals in 21 league games as Everton finished mid table in the 1991–92 campaign of the First Division. Johnston scored three goals in 13 games as Everton finished 13th in the first season of the new Premier League. Despite the departure of Peter Beardsley to Newcastle United in the close season, Johnston remained out of the team during the 1993–94 campaign as manager Howard Kendall reverted to the traditional 4–4–2 formation and partnered Tony Cottee with Paul Rideout in attack.

In October 1993, Johnston was given a free transfer when attempts to sell him failed.[12]

Return to Scottish football

Johnston returned to Scotland with Edinburgh club Hearts, making 31 appearances in his first season and scoring four goals. He found himself out of the team the following season[13][14] and was given another free transfer in February 1995 after a long dispute over the settlement of his contract.[15] Joining Falkirk, he scored one goal in the remainder of that season and five in the next season as Falkirk were relegated from the Scottish First Division.


In 1996 Johnston moved to the United States and Major League Soccer, signing with the Kansas City Wiz (later renamed the Wizards). He scored 31 goals in 149 games for the club, adding a goal in 15 playoff games. He was part of the Wizards team that won the MLS Cup in 2000.

International career

Mo Johnston made his debut with the Scottish national team in 1984 and played regularly under manager Andy Roxburgh following his appointment in July 1986.

He had been expected to make the squad for Mexico 86 but was dropped by Alex Ferguson (caretaker manager until the end of the World Cup after the death of Jock Stein in September 1985) after a late night incident during Scotland's preparations for their play-off against Australia in November 1985, in which Johnston had disturbed a member of the coaching staff in his hotel room. In Ferguson's autobiography, Managing My Life, which was published 14 years later, Ferguson stated that he had already warned Johnston about his conduct after he and team mate Frank McAvennie had bought drinks for themselves, fellow Scotland team mates and a group of young women in the hotel bar.

He played a part in getting Scotland to Italia 90 but retired from international competition after their early elimination. He briefly returned to the national side team for several Euro qualifiers in late 1991 but got injured against Switzerland and finally, in 1992 after scoring 14 goals in 38 caps, permanently retired from the national team. He was in the starting lineup for all three of Scotland's matches in the 1990 World Cup, scoring a penalty kick against Sweden.

International goals

Scores and results list Scotland's goal tally first
Goal Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 28 February 1984 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Wales 2–1 2–1 BHC
2 12 September 1984 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Yugoslavia 5–1 6–1 Friendly
3 14 November 1984 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Spain 1–0 3–1 WCQG7
4 14 November 1984 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Spain 2–0 3–1 WCQG7
5 12 November 1986 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Luxembourg 3–0 3–0 ECQG7
6 17 February 1988 King Fahd Stadium, Riyadh  Saudi Arabia 1–1 2–2 Friendly
7 14 September 1988 Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo  Norway 2–1 2–1 WCQG5
8 19 October 1988 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Yugoslavia 1–0 1–1 WCQG5
9 8 February 1989 Tsirion Stadium, Limassol  Cyprus 1–0 3–2 WCQG5
10 8 March 1989 Hampden Park, Glasgow  France 1–0 2–0 WCQG5
11 8 March 1989 Hampden Park, Glasgow  France 2–0 2–0 WCQG5
12 26 April 1989 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Cyprus 1–0 2–1 WCQG5
13 19 May 1990 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Poland 1–0 1–1 Friendly
14 16 June 1990 Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genoa  Sweden 2–0 2–1 WCGC

Managerial career

Johnston retired after the 2001 season, and from 2003 to 2005 was an assistant coach to Bob Bradley for the MetroStars.[16] After Bradley was fired with three games left in the 2005 season, Johnston was named interim head coach.[17] With a record to end the season of two wins and a tie, he led the team to the playoffs and was promoted to the full-time position[18] with re-branded New York Red Bulls after the season. On 27 June 2006, after a 2-3-7 start to the 2006 season, Johnston was fired.[19]

On 22 August 2006, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE); owners of MLS club Toronto FC, announced Johnston as Head Coach beginning their inaugural 2007 season.[20] Before the start of the 2008 season, it was announced that Johnston was moving upstairs to fill the role of Director of Football, though he retained the title of manager, while John Carver took over coaching duties at the time.[21]

Mo Johnston has earned himself the name "Trader Mo" because in the first half of the first season alone he had traded 9 players.[22] Throughout his MLS managerial career though, Johnston has developed a reputation of proficiency for drafting players, such as, Jozy Altidore, Marvell Wynne, Maurice Edu, Stefan Frei, O'Brian White, and Sam Cronin, among others.[citation needed]

Johnston's tenure as Director of Soccer ended when he was fired with Head coach Preki on 14 September 2010.[2] Johnston's regular season record as Director of Soccer Operations was 32-51-31.

Coaching record

As of 18 October 2014
Team From To Record
G W D L GF GA GD Win % Ref.
MetroStars/NY Red Bulls 4 October 2005[16] 26 June 2006[19] 16 5 7 4 21 23 −2 31.25 [23]
Toronto FC 22 August 2006[20] 1 February 2008[21] 30 6 7 17 25 49 −24 20.00 [24]
Total 46 11 14 21 46 72 −26 23.91



  1. "Toronto FC: Roster: Player Bio". Major League Soccer. Archived from the original on 2 March 2009. Retrieved 27 March 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Attfield, Paul (14 September 2009). "Toronto FC cleans house". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 2009-09-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Johnston Career Stats". Sporting Heroes. Retrieved 17 July 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Murray, William J. (2000). The Old Firm: Sectarianism, Sport and Society in Scotland. John Donald Publishers. pp. 60, 64, 65, 189. ISBN 9780859765428.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Giulianotti, Richard (1999). Football: A Sociology of the Global Game. John Wiley & Sons. p. 18. ISBN 9780745617695. Historically Rangers have maintained a staunch Protestant and anti-Catholic tradition which includes a ban on signing Catholic players.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Gallagher, Tom (1987). Glasgow, the Uneasy Peace: Religious Tension in Modern Scotland, 1819–1914. Manchester University Press ND. p. 300. ISBN 9780719023965. Retrieved 18 August 2012. The conflict in Ireland failed to be the catalyst which swept the religious cobwebs from the Ibrox-based club's terraces and boardroom. One of its managers even had no qualms in the 1970s about urging his players to roar out the loyalist battle-cry 'No Surrender' as they ran up the tunnel at Ibrox.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Souness, Graeme & Gallacher, Ken (1989). Graeme Souness: A Manager's Diary. Mainstream Publishing. p. 17. ISBN 9781851582242. For years Rangers have been pilloried for what the majority of people saw as discrimination against one section of the population. Now we have shown that this unwritten policy at Ibrox is over. It's finished. Done with. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Laing, Allan (11 July 1989). "Ibrox lands double coup with Johnston". The Glasgow Herald. p. 1. Retrieved 18 August 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Kuper, Simon (2006). Football Against the Enemy. Orion. ISBN 0-7528-4877-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 Murray, Bill (2000). The Old Firm. Edinburgh: John Donald. p. 232. ISBN 0-85976-542-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. McGill, Craig (4 November 2001). "How Mo was sold out by a sports firm". Sunday Mirror. Retrieved 27 March 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Colin Wood (9 October 1993). "Kendall cuts his losses on misfit Johnston". Daily Mail. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Alister Nicol (23 September 1994). "BETT ON IT - MO'S ON HIS BIKE; Mo Johnston dropped by Hearts and Jim Bett is in". Daily Record. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Iain King (11 December 1994). "HEART BREAKER FOR MOJO; pounds 3000 a week star trains with kids!; Mo Johnston has been dropped from the RESERVES and is training with the Tynecastle KIDS". Daily Record. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. John Docherty (1 March 1995). "I'VE WON MY WAR SAYS MOJO; Maurice Johnston blasts Tommy McLean". Daily Record. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. 16.0 16.1 "MetroStars fire Bradley as coach". USA Today. 4 October 2005. Retrieved 18 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "The Big Interview: Maurice Johnston". London: The Times. 23 April 2006. Retrieved 2010-07-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Johnston becomes MetroStars boss". BBC Sports. 9 November 2005. Retrieved 18 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 19.0 19.1 "New York Red Bulls fire coach Mo Johnston". USA Today. The Associated Press. 27 June 2006. Retrieved 18 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. 20.0 20.1 Elliot, Josh. "Toronto FC: 8 coaches depart franchise in 8 troubled years". CTV News. Retrieved 18 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. 21.0 21.1 "Toronto FC make coaching change". CBC Sports. 1 February 2008. Retrieved 18 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Doyle, John (15 June 2007). "Meanwhile in Canada". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-07-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "New York RB » Fixtures & Results 2005/2006". Retrieved 18 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Toronto FC » Fixtures & Results 2006/2007". Retrieved 18 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links