Alex Neil (footballer)

Alex Neil
Neil (in yellow) playing for Hamilton Academical in 2009
Personal information
Full name Alexander Francis Neil[1]
Date of birth (1981-06-09) 9 June 1981
Place of birth Bellshill, Scotland
Height 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Preston North End (manager)
Youth career
0000–1999 Dunfermline Athletic
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1999–2000 Airdrieonians 16 (5)
2000–2004 Barnsley 121 (4)
2004–2005 Mansfield Town 41 (1)
2005–2015 Hamilton Academical 211 (4)
Total 389 (14)
Teams managed
2013–2015 Hamilton Academical
2015–2017 Norwich City
2017– Preston North End
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Alexander Francis Neil (born 9 June 1981)[2] is a Scottish former professional footballer and the current manager of Preston North End.

Neil began his professional career at Airdrieonians in 2000, playing half a season in the Scottish Football League First Division before moving to Barnsley. He played 142 games across all competitions in his four-year spell at Barnsley, and then signed for Mansfield Town on a free transfer. After a season at Mansfield, he returned to Scotland's First Division with Hamilton Academical, featuring in 246 matches across a decade and winning promotion to the Scottish Premier League in 2008.

He became Hamilton's player-manager in 2013 and led them to promotion to the Scottish Premiership in 2014. In January 2015 he was appointed manager of Norwich City, as the second youngest manager in the Football League at the time. Neil guided Norwich to promotion to the Premier League, after winning the 2015 Football League Championship play-off Final. But the team suffered relegation following the very next season, and on 10 March 2017, Neil was sacked from his role as Norwich City manager following a period of poor results. He was appointed by Preston on 4 July 2017 and led the team to seventh place in the 2017–18 Championship.

Playing career


Born in Bellshill, North Lanarkshire, Neil began his career at Dunfermline Athletic, before joining Airdrieonians on a free transfer in the summer of 1999.[3] He made his professional debut in the Scottish Football League First Division on 3 January 2000, as a 64th-minute substitute for Steve McCormick in a 0–2 home loss to Falkirk. Five days later, on his first start, he scored in the eighth minute of a 3–1 loss at St Mirren. He finished his first season with 5 goals from 16 appearances, with the other four scored in three consecutive games in April, including two in a 3–0 home win over Greenock Morton on the 8th.[4]


After his first professional season, Neil was recommended to Barnsley by his next-door neighbour Peter Hetherston, a friend of their manager Dave Bassett.[5] He made his debut for the Tykes in the Football League First Division on 26 August 2000, replacing Lee Jones for the final ten minutes of a 4–1 home win over West Bromwich Albion. He made 32 league appearances in his first season at Oakwell, and was sent off on 28 April 2001 in a 0–1 home loss to Bolton Wanderers.[6]

On 15 September 2001, Neil scored his first goal in English football, concluding a 2–0 home win over Crewe Alexandra.[7] He netted again on 8 November in a 2–2 draw at Preston North End,[8] in a campaign which ended in relegation. Neil spent the following two seasons in the Second Division, scoring the decisive goals in 3–2 wins at Rushden & Diamonds and Stockport County on 10 April and 8 May 2004.[9][10]

Mansfield Town

On 20 July 2004, Neil joined Mansfield Town on a free transfer.[11] He made 41 appearances for them in League Two that season, and scored his first goal on 23 November in the first round of the FA Cup, a consolation in a 4–1 loss to Colchester United at Layer Road.[12] His only league goal for the Stags came on 5 March 2005, opening a 1–1 draw against Shrewsbury Town at Field Mill.[13]

Hamilton Academical

On 28 May 2005, having been told that he was surplus to the requirements of Mansfield manager Carlton Palmer, Neil returned to the Scottish First Division, signing a two-year deal at Hamilton Academical.[14] He made his Accies debut on 13 August, as they began the season with a 0–1 loss to St Johnstone at New Douglas Park. Seventeen days later, he scored his first goal for his new team in the second round of the Scottish Challenge Cup, netting the only goal away to Ross County when he headed in Brian Carrigan's cross just before half time.[15] On 22 October, he got his first league goal for them, in the first minute of the second half of a 3–0 home win against Brechin City.[16] Neil played the entirety of the 2005 Scottish Challenge Cup Final on 6 November, a 2–1 loss to St Mirren at the Excelsior Stadium in Airdrie.[17] The Accies also reached the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup, with Neil scoring a penalty kick in the fourth round replay at Alloa Athletic, a 3–0 win.[18]

Neil played 30 league games in 2007–08, as Hamilton won the division and promotion to the Scottish Premier League.[19] He scored once that season, opening a 4–0 home win over Stirling Albion on 15 September 2007 with a 40-yard free kick.[20]

On 6 May 2011, Neil signed a new three-year contract.[21]

Managerial career

Hamilton Academical

After manager Billy Reid vacated his managerial position at Hamilton in April 2013, Neil (who had already been involved in coaching the club's youth teams)[22][23] was appointed player-manager on an interim basis. He was made manager on a permanent basis on 24 May 2013, at the age of 31.[24] Assisted by Frankie McAvoy, Neil led the club to promotion back to the top flight in his first full season, winning through the play-off system in May 2014.[25] Hamilton then enjoyed a good start to the 2014–15 Scottish Premiership, defeating Celtic away for the first time in 76 years.[25][23]

Norwich City

In January 2015, Neil obtained permission from Hamilton to speak to Norwich City about their managerial vacancy.[25] On 9 January, he was confirmed as their new manager at 33 years old, the second youngest in the Football League after Mansfield's Adam Murray.[26] The following day in his first game, he managed his team to a 2–1 victory at Championship leaders AFC Bournemouth.[27] Norwich gained 17 wins from 25 games played under Neil in the 2014–15 season.[28][29] They finished third in the Championship and entered the play-offs, where in the semi-finals they beat East Anglia derby rivals Ipswich Town 4–2 on aggregate over two legs.[30] On 25 May, Neil led Norwich to a 2–0 victory over Middlesbrough in the 2015 Football League Championship play-off Final, as goalscorers Cameron Jerome and Nathan Redmond secured promotion to the 2015–16 Premier League.[28] During the 2015 close season, Neil signed a new contract with Norwich City.[31]

However, Norwich were relegated after a single season in the Premier League. Neil had his contract terminated in March 2017, with the Canaries 8th in the table.[32] They had won seven of their last 24 games in The Championship and were nine points outside the top six play-off places.[33] Alex Neil admitted to regret over summer recruitment which led to his sacking in March.[34]

Preston North End

On 4 July 2017, Neil was appointed as manager of Championship club Preston North End, replacing former manager Simon Grayson, who left the club to take over as manager of Sunderland.[35]

Managerial statistics

As of match played 1 September 2018
Managerial record by team and tenure
Team From To Record Ref.
Hamilton Academical 3 April 2013 9 January 2015 77 42 16 19 054.5 [36][37][38]
Norwich City 9 January 2015 10 March 2017 108 45 23 40 041.7 [38]
Preston North End 4 July 2017 Present 57 23 18 16 040.4 [38]
Total 242 110 57 75 045.5


As a player

Hamilton Academical

As a manager

Hamilton Academical
Norwich City

Individual awards


  1. "Alex Neil". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  2. "League Managers Association – Alex Neil". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  3. McGarry, John (27 September 2014). "Alex Neil's managerial success nine years in the making as he looks to build on Hamilton's superb start to the season". Daily Mail. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  4. "Goal Hero Niall Praises Protest Fans; Airdrie ..3 Morton.0". Sunday Mail. Glasgow. 9 April 2000. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  5. McGivern, Mark (30 May 2015). "Mum of Norwich City manager Alex Neil on his amazing rise through £130m play-off into Premier League". Daily Record. Glasgow. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  6. "Barnsley 0–1 Bolton". BBC Sport. 28 April 2001. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  7. "Barnsley 2–0 Crewe". BBC Sport. 15 September 2001. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  8. "Preston 2–2 Barnsley". BBC Sport. 8 November 2001. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  9. "Rushden 2–3 Barnsley". BBC Sport. 10 April 2004. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  10. "Stockport 2–3 Barnsley". BBC Sport. 8 May 2004. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  11. "Transfers – July 2004". BBC Sport. 29 July 2004. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  12. Foulkes, Dean (23 November 2004). "Colchester United 4–1 Mansfield Town". Stagsnet. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  13. "Football: Mansfield 1 Shrewsbury 1". The Sunday People. 6 March 2005. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  14. "ALEX NEIL JOINS HAMILTON". Stagsnet. 28 May 2005. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  15. Wares, Bruce (30 August 2005). "Ross County 0 Accies 1: Challenge Cup Round 2: 30 August 2005". Hamilton Academical Memory Bank. Archived from the original on 7 February 2016. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  16. Rodger, Nick (23 October 2005). "Hamilton 3 Brechin 0: Keogh keeps Accies soaring". The Sunday Times. London. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  17. "St Mirren 2–1 Hamilton Accies". BBC Sport. 6 November 2005. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  18. "Alloa Ath 0–3 Hamilton Accies". BBC Sport. 7 February 2006. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  19. 1 2 "Hamilton Accies 2–0 Clyde". BBC Sport. 19 April 2008. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  20. "Hamilton Acc 4–0 Stirling Albion". BBC Sport. 15 September 2007. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  21. "Alex Neil agrees new three-year deal with Hamilton". BBC Sport. 6 May 2011. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  22. Graham Speirs (4 October 2014). "Spiers on Saturday: understanding the Hamilton Accies success story". The Herald. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  23. 1 2 "Long-term strategy buoys Hamilton as Celtic seek immediate answers". BBC Sport. 6 October 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  24. "Alex Neil is named Hamilton player-manager". BBC Sport. 24 May 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  25. 1 2 3 "Norwich talk to Hamilton Accies manager Alex Neil". BBC Sport. 7 January 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  26. "Alex Neil: Norwich City appoint Hamilton player-manager as boss". BBC Sport. 9 January 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  27. "Bournemouth 1–2 Norwich". BBC Sport. 10 January 2015. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  28. 1 2 3 "Middlesbrough 0–2 Norwich". BBC Sport. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  29. "Ipswich and Norwich to meet in Championship play-offs". Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  30. "Cameron Jerome seals Wembley final for Norwich City as 10-man Ipswich are tamed". The Guardian. LOndon. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  31. "Alex Neil: Norwich City manager signs new 'longer-term' deal". BBC Sport. 16 June 2015. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  33. "Norwich: Sacked Alex Neil admits to regret over summer recruitment". BBC Sport. 2017-04-18. Retrieved 2017-06-28.
  34. "Alex Neil: Preston North End appoint ex-Norwich boss as manager". BBC Sport. 4 July 2017. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  35. "Manager Billy Reid exits Hamilton Accies". BBC Sport. 3 April 2015. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  36. "Hamilton: Results/matches: 2012/13". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  37. 1 2 3 "Managers: Alex Neil". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  38. "Norwich boss Alex Neil ready for Sky Bet Championship play-off final". Sky Sports. 21 May 2015. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
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