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David Pleat

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Title: David Pleat  
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Subject: Trevor Hartley, List of Premier League managers, Osvaldo Ardiles, Billy Minter, Arthur Turner (football manager – Tottenham)
Collection: 1945 Births, British Association Football Commentators, English Football Managers, English Footballers, English Jews, Exeter City F.C. Players, Jewish Sportspeople, Leicester City F.C. Managers, Living People, Luton Town F.C. Managers, Luton Town F.C. Players, Nottingham Forest F.C. Players, Peterborough United F.C. Players, Premier League Managers, Sheffield Wednesday F.C. Managers, Shrewsbury Town F.C. Players, Sportspeople from Nottingham, The Football League Managers, The Football League Players, Tottenham Hotspur F.C. Managers
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David Pleat

David Pleat
Personal information
Full name David John Pleat
Date of birth (1945-01-15) 15 January 1945
Place of birth Nottingham, England
Playing position Winger
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1962–1964 Nottingham Forest 6 (1)
1964–1967 Luton Town 70 (9)
1967–1968 Shrewsbury Town 12 (1)
1968–1970 Exeter City 69 (14)
1970–1971 Peterborough United 28 (2[1])
Teams managed
1971–1977 Nuneaton Borough
1978–1986 Luton Town
1986–1987 Tottenham Hotspur
1987–1991 Leicester City
1991–1995 Luton Town
1995–1997 Sheffield Wednesday
1998 Tottenham Hotspur (Caretaker)
2001 Tottenham Hotspur (Caretaker)
2003–2004 Tottenham Hotspur (Caretaker)

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

† Appearances (goals)

David John Pleat (born Nottingham, England on 15 January 1945) is an English football player turned manager and sports commentator.

He is remembered by his contemporaries primarily for his career as manager of Tottenham Hotspur and Luton Town football clubs, and for an oft-televised clip of him running onto the pitch in 1983 to celebrate after a last-minute goal by Raddy Antić against Manchester City prevented Pleat's team Luton Town from being relegated from Division One.[2][3]


  • Playing career 1
  • Management career 2
    • Nuneaton Borough 2.1
    • Luton Town 2.2
    • Tottenham Hotspur 2.3
    • Leicester City and return to Luton Town 2.4
    • Sheffield Wednesday 2.5
    • Back to Tottenham 2.6
    • Nottingham Forest 2.7
    • Marbella 2.8
  • Career statistics 3
    • As a manager 3.1
  • Media career 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6
  • Further reading 7

Playing career

As a winger, Pleat represented England at schoolboy level. His first club as a senior player was Nottingham Forest (1962–64), which was his local club. From there he moved on to Luton Town (1964–67), Shrewsbury Town (1967–68) and Exeter City (1968–70), where he once played outside left against the team that he was later to manage, Tottenham Hotspur. His playing career ended with a stint at Peterborough United (1970–71), after which he turned to coaching and management.[4]

He made 185 Football League appearances for his five clubs, scoring 26 goals.

Management career

Nuneaton Borough

His first coaching position was for Southern League team Nuneaton Borough[4] in 1971.[5]

Luton Town

From there he joined the coaching staff at Luton Town. In January 1978 he was appointed manager of the club. During his nine years as manager of Luton Town the side were promoted from the Football League Second Division to the First Division and gained a reputation for playing attacking and attractive football, peaking at ninth place in the league in 1986, his final year in charge. A number of players in Pleat's team would receive international recognition, including defender Mal Donaghy (Northern Ireland), midfielder Ricky Hill and forwards Brian Stein, Paul Walsh and Mick Harford (all England).

Luton came close to reaching the FA Cup final in 1985 under Pleat. They were beaten 2–1 by Everton in the semi-final in extra time at Villa Park. Luton also lost in the quarter-final against Everton the following year.[6][7] Although Luton did not manage to reach a Cup final during Pleat's time in charge, the team that won the 1988 Littlewoods Cup under Ray Harford, beating Arsenal 3–2 in the final, was largely Pleat's team of the early and mid-1980s.[4] (For more information, see History of Luton Town F.C. (1970–present))

Tottenham Hotspur

In May 1986, Pleat was appointed manager of Tottenham Hotspur, one of the biggest clubs in England. He brought along with him from Luton Mitchell Thomas. His earliest changes at the club were to bring in Nico Claesen and Richard Gough, the latter of whom he paired with Gary Mabbutt in defence, moving Paul Allen into midfield.[4] During his only full season as manager, Tottenham Hotspur reached third place in the First Division, reached the FA Cup final, and the semi-final of the Football League Cup in the 1986–87 season. Glenn Moore, writing in The Independent in 1995, described the play during Pleat's stint as manager of Spurs as "some of the best attacking football of the last two decades". During this season, he played with just one striker - Clive Allen, who scored a highly impressive total of 49 goals in all competitions. They had been in serious contention for all three major English trophies that season, although they ended the season without winning any of them.[8]

Pleat's employment as manager of Tottenham came to an end in October 1987 when he was dismissed due to "disclosures about his private life".[9] Newspaper revelations that Pleat had been cautioned by police three times for kerb-crawling created publicity that forced him to leave Spurs.[10] The board of Tottenham Hotspur were also keen to bring Terry Venables to the club as manager, since he had also become available.[8]

Leicester City and return to Luton Town

Pleat made a quick return to management with Leicester City, who had just been relegated from the First Division, and lasted more than three years at Filbert Street before he was dismissed in January 1991, with Leicester still yet to win promotion to the First Division and looking more likely to be relegated to the Third Division, never finishing above mid table while Pleat was in charge.[11] He returned to Luton Town in June 1991 for a second spell as manager of the club. They were relegated at the end of his first season back at Kenilworth Road, missing out on a place in the new FA Premier League, but the club's board kept faith in him. Despite dismal form in the new Division One, they did reach the FA Cup semi-final in 1994, losing 2-0 to Chelsea.[12]

Sheffield Wednesday

Pleat left Luton to join Sheffield Wednesday in the summer of 1995.[9][13] His first actions as manager for Wednesday, a position which he took over from Trevor Francis, were to add Mick Walker and Danny Bergara to the youth management and Mark Pembridge and Marc Degryse to the first team. His first season at Hillsborough was frustrating, as they finished 15th in the Premier League – their lowest finish in five seasons since promotion.

The club won its first four fixtures of the 1996–97 season, against Aston Villa, Leeds United, Newcastle United and Leicester City, earning Pleat the Premier League Manager of the Month for August 1996 as the Owls topped the Premier League. However, they failed to keep up this good form and any hopes of a league title triumph were soon forgotten, and by Christmas even a UEFA Cup place was looking unlikely. They eventually finished seventh in the final table. They started the following season dismally and Pleat was sacked in November 1997 with relegation looking a real possibility.

Back to Tottenham

He returned to Tottenham Hotspur as

  • Barry J. Hugman "The PFA Premier & Football League Players' Records 1946–1998" ISBN 1-85291-585-4

Further reading

  • David Pleat career statistics at Soccerbase
  • David Pleat management career statistics at Soccerbase

External links

  1. ^ Barry Hugman, Rothman's Football League Players Records, Aylesbury: Rothmans Publications, 1981, p. 277
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c d
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ a b c d e
  10. ^
  11. ^ David Pleat – Former Football Manager, Commentator and After-Dinner Speaker
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b c
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ Former English football player David Pleat named Marbella FC adviser SUR Digital, 7 June 2008
  21. ^ David Pleat The Guardian
  22. ^ Pleat David Daily Mail
  23. ^ BackPass magazine, issue 37, pages 50-51


Pleat has worked as a co-commentator for ESPN UK broadcasts. He has also commentated for Premier League Productions, which provides the world feed commentary. Pleat is currently working for Al Jazeera Sport.

Pleat has written a regular column for The Guardian newspaper since 2004, primarily exploring the tactical side of recent matches,[21] and contributes articles to the Daily Mail.[22] He spent a number of years working for ITV as a commentator, but left in August 2009. He has been a regular co-commentator on Radio 5 Live and now contributes a regular column for BackPass magazine.[23]

Media career

Team From To Record
G W D L Win %
Luton Town 25 January 1978 16 May 1986 405 160 109 136 39.51
Tottenham Hotspur 16 May 1986 23 October 1987 71 39 11 21 54.93
Leicester City 24 December 1987 29 January 1991 153 49 44 60 32.03
Luton Town 6 June 1991 14 June 1995 202 55 66 81 27.23
Sheffield Wednesday 14 June 1995 3 November 1997 102 32 30 40 31.37
Tottenham Hotspur (caretaker) 7 September 1998 1 October 1998 6 3 2 1 50.00
Tottenham Hotspur (caretaker) 16 March 2001 2 April 2001 2 1 0 1 50.00
Tottenham Hotspur (caretaker) 21 September 2003 3 June 2004 39 16 7 16 41.03
Total 980 355 269 356 36.22

As a manager

Career statistics

In 2008, Pleat took on an advisory role with UD Marbella with responsibility for development of young English players.[20]


In August 2006, Pleat returned to his first and home club, Nottingham Forest, this time as a football consultant, a job which included advising new Forest manager Colin Calderwood and scouting potential signings.[16] In August 2009, Pleat had more time available, and was in discussion with the Forest chief executive about expanding his role.[17][18] On 28 September 2011, Pleat left his role, following the disbanding of the much criticized acquisition panel.[19]

Nottingham Forest


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