After a 17-year playing career, in which he made 683 appearances scoring 163 goals, he is currently the first team coach at Blackburn Rovers.
Liverpool-born David began by explaining: “I had spells when I was younger at Liverpool and Everton, but in those days there weren’t any Centres of Excellence or an Academy system and I didn’t get taken on by either! Then a schoolteacher called Barry Whitbread recommended me to Wigan’s manager, Harry McNally, so I went there for a trial. Even though I’d done an extra year at school in the sixth form, my birthday is in late August so I was still only 16 and Wigan gave me an apprenticeship. That’s really how it all started.”
David made his first team debut in October 1982 against Reading and was a regular in Wigan Third Division side for the next five seasons. One of David’s highlights whilst he was at Wigan was his spectacular goal at Wembley against Brentford when the Latics lifted the Freight Rover Trophy.
“I played wide left that day,” David remembered. “I didn’t really get many touches and my overall game wasn’t particularly good on the day, but scoring a goal was good, especially as it was at Wembley. I just managed to get to a second phase corner and it went into the net. We won 3-1”.
What David modestly didn’t mention was that he scored with a spectacular overhead kick! Two of David’s teammates that day were future Leicester City stars Steve Walsh and Mike Newell.
“I played most of my early days at Wigan with Steve,” David remembered. “He’s a year older than me and he came a little bit later than me but we grew up together at Wigan as players.”
Liverpool-born David started his career with a successful spell at Wigan.
The following season, Bryan Hamilton became Wigan Athletic’s manager, leading the team to within one point of promotion to the old Second Division.
“Bryan played me on the right,” David continued. “I was fortunate to be at Wigan. Nowadays, kids don’t get a lot of opportunity in the first team, but Wigan was quite a small club at the time. There were only four apprentices when I first joined and I got the opportunity to play a lot.”
In June 1986, both Hamilton and Walsh left Wigan for Leicester City and a year later, David signed for Ipswich Town for £80,000.
“When John Duncan (who had played over 100 games for Tottenham Hotspur in the 1970s) was manager at Chesterfield, I’d done particularly well against them. I was on the verge of moving to Blackpool but then John got the manager’s job at Ipswich. I went to Ipswich to talk to him and decided to sign for them.
“I really enjoyed my five years there. It was my first club away from home and I worked with good people like John Duncan, John Lyall and Charlie Woods. I won two England Under-21s caps when I was there. The only downside was my cruciate ligament injury, which put a bit of a dampener on things, to be honest.
“In 1992, Ipswich were promoted to the new Premier League. We were challenging for the title with Blackburn Rovers, who also went up when they defeated Leicester City in the Wembley Play-off Final. I was on loan at Port Vale for part of that season.”
In the summer of 1992, David signed for Brian Little’s Leicester City for a fee of £200,000. Little had set his sights on promotion to the Premier League following the disappointment of the recent Wembley Play-off Final defeat by Kenny Dalglish’s Blackburn Rovers.
Explaining how his move to Filbert Street came about, David continued: “After five years at Ipswich, there was no real new contract offer, so when Leicester approached them about signing me, I decided it was time to move on. Brian was the manager and John Gregory and Allan Evans were the coaches at Filbert Street.
“I had a slow start at Leicester because during my relocation period, whilst I was staying at the Holiday Inn, I broke my cheekbone in a pre-season friendly playing against Borussia Mönchengladbach. In that first season, though, I played a lot of football and scored a few goals.”
At the end of the season, Leicester City once again reached the Play-off Final for a place in the Premier League, but were defeated 4-3 by Glenn Hoddle’s Swindon Town.
The following season (1993/94), Leicester City did get promoted to the Premier League.
David's stunner against Spurs will forever be fondly remembered by the Club's fans.
However, David did not feature too much that year and, in February 1994, he went on loan to John Rudge’s Port Vale for his second spell at Vale Park. His five goals in 19 appearances helped the Valiants to win promotion to the second tier three months later.
Although David was back at Leicester in time for the Club’s Wembley Play-Off Final against Derby County, he wasn’t in the squad.
However City’s victory over the Rams, secured by Walsh famously scoring two goals, meant that David could look forward to the following season as a Premier League player.
He added: “When the season started, I wasn’t in the team for the first three games, but I made my Premier League debut at Filbert Street when we won our first point, against Queens Park Rangers. The next game was at Wimbledon, where I scored my first Premier League goal, but then I got sent off! I was sub for my first game back after suspension, which was against Spurs at Filbert Street.”
This was Leicester City’s sixth game of the season and David’s unforgettable goal, which was later voted the Club’s Goal of the Season, helped secure their first-ever victory in the top-flight since the Premier League had been established two seasons earlier.
Recalling that evening at Filbert Street, David said: “I haven’t checked, but I think it was Mark Draper (the Club’s recent maiden £1M signing) who played the ball to me. For some unknown reason, I was on the left-hand side. I just ran with the ball, brought it onto my right foot and just bent it round really, scoring from about 20 yards out!”
David’s goal, scored late in the game, made the score 2-0. Just after that, Jürgen Klinsmann scored for Tottenham Hotspur, but then, right at the end, Julian Joachim scored his second goal of the match. The final score was a 3-1 victory for Leicester City.
He went onto make 29 Premier League appearances that season, which ended in relegation. He scored eight goals, one behind top scorer Iwan Roberts.
In November 1994, Little left the Club to manage Aston Villa, taking Gregory and Evans with him.
Lowe was in temporary charge of Derby County for a 1-0 success over Manchester United.
“Brian had signed me, so this was disappointing”, David said. “I’d enjoyed working with Brian, John and Allan but it was no surprise to me that Brian left when Aston Villa came calling. Villa was his club as a boy and it was where he had made his name as a player. Soon afterwards, Mark McGhee and Colin Lee came in. A few weeks later, we went for a match at Villa Park. I came on as a sub and scored twice in a 4-4 draw, when we came back from 1-4 down.”
Although they failed to prevent relegation, McGhee and Lee set about building an attractive side for an instant return to the Premier League.
Mark Draper, Ian Ormondroyd, David Oldfield, Gavin Ward and Nicky Mohan left Filbert Street. Mark Robins and Garry Parker, who had been McGhee’s first signings to help the fight against relegation, were joined by Scott Taylor, Steve Corica, Pontus Kåmark and Zeljko Kalac.
Commenting on McGhee’s emphasis on playing attractive football, David remembered: “Brian liked aggression in the side. He had a lot of tall players in the team. However Mark and Colin’s style was possession-based, so I enjoyed working with Mark and Colin, as I had done with Brian and his staff to be honest.”
This style worked, but with Leicester in second-place in December, 1995, and looking set for an instant return to the Premier League, McGhee became the second manager in 12 months to walk out on City when he departed to become manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Shortly afterwards, Martin O’Neill became the new manager, following a one-match interregnum at Southend, when Steve Walsh, Garry Parker, Chris Turner and David Nish took the helm.
Thinking back to this time, David said: “I had played a lot of football under Little and Mark McGhee and had been a regular starter in the side that season until Mark left, but I didn't play much football under Martin. As a consequence, I left Filbert Street soon afterwards to go back for a second spell at Wigan.
Now, David is working as a coach for Blackburn Rovers.
“I left Leicester on deadline day in March, 1996. They didn’t have transfer windows then. I was coming from a reserve game on a Tuesday or a Wednesday night and I got a message that O’Neill would like to see me at the stadium. So I went to see him and have a cup of tea. He told me that he had accepted a bid for me from Wigan, but that it was up to me if I wanted to go. My contract was up at the end of the season and I was in my early 30s. There was no real contract offer for me and Leicester and Wigan were offering me a three-and-a-half-year contract. I went to speak to Wigan and then signed for them.
“I really enjoyed it back at Wigan. John Deehan and later John Benson were very good coaches. We won promotion (from the fourth tier) in 1997. I was the Club’s top scorer and player of the season in 1997/98. The following season, we were defeated by Manchester City in the (third tier) Play-Off Semi-Final. I played in that game, although I had been injured a lot that season. Whilst I was there, I managed to break the club’s all-time goalscoring record in all competitions, a record which still stands!
“In the summer of 1999, Wigan offered me the youth coach job, but I turned it down because I wanted to keep playing, so I went to Wrexham on a two-year deal. Around November time, I fell out of favour there and went on loan to Rushden & Diamonds, where we very nearly won promotion from the Conference.
“After I finished playing, I joined the PFA as a coach educator in the North West for two years. Then Paul Jewell asked me to join him at Wigan. I stayed there for about six years until 2007 and we had two promotions, taking us from the third tier to the Premier League. Then I went with Paul to Derby County, where I became youth team coach. When he left Derby (in December 2008) I became caretaker manager for one game, when we beat Manchester United in a League Cup semi-final home leg, before Nigel Clough came in.
“Next, I coached at Tranmere for about a season, before becoming the head of academy coaching at Blackburn Rovers. I left there for about six months a couple of years ago, but soon went back (in February 2017) when Tony Mowbray became manager. I joined his first team staff with David Dunn. David then went with the Under-23s and (ex-Leicester City player) Mark Venus came in as assistant manager. I’ve been coaching the first team ever since. I love coaching.”
David concluded: “I spent four years at Leicester and enjoyed it. More often than not we were near the top end of the Championship and I managed to play in the Premier League for them too which was good. I also loved playing at Filbert Street. The atmosphere was always good because the crowd were quite close and on top of you.”
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