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Former Chelsea, Mid­dles­bo­rough and Wrexham legend dies


 
 

Former Chelsea, Mid­dle­sbro­ugh and Wrexham manager John Neal has died at the age of 82.

Neal began his managerial career at Wrexham in 1968 and achieved promotion to the Third Division two years later.

Wrexham reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and Cup Winners' Cup during Neal's time in charge before he joined Mid­dle­sbro­ugh in 1977.

County Durham-born Neal replaced Geoff Hurst at Chelsea in 1981 and led the club to the 1984 Second Division title.

He took the Blues to sixth place in the First Division in 1985 before retiring due to ill health.

Neal, who later served on Chelsea's board of directors, played pro­fes­si­onal­ly for Hull City, Swindon Town, Aston Villa and Southend United.

The full-back was a member of the Villa side which won the inaugural Football League Cup in 1961 with a 3-2 aggregate victory over Rotherham United.

Joey Jones, who played under Neal at Wrexham and Chelsea, paid tribute to his former boss.

"He was not only a great manager but a great man as well," said the former Liverpool and Wales in­ter­nati­onal defender.

"He's up there with the best of them in terms of what he could get out of players. His man-management was brilliant.

"I can't speak highly enough of him, if it wasn't for him I wouldn't be in football. I owe him my career."

KJ

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