Raul Reid

Former Player Remembers: Paul Reid

Paul Reid, who made 189 appearances for Leicester City between 1987 and 1992, recently talked to Club Historian John Hutchinson about his lengthy career in football.
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He later played at Bradford City, Huddersfield Town, Oldham Athletic and Swansea City. A scorer of some spectacular goals, he played as a striker, a winger, a midfielder and a full-back. Paul later coached at the academies of Swansea City and Forest Green Rovers, having previously played and managed in the Welsh Premier League.

“I was born in Birmingham,” Paul began. “As a boy, Birmingham City, West Bromwich Albion and Everton all said I was too small to be a centre-forward, but a Leicester City scout spotted me when I was about 14. Dave Richardson, the youth team manager took a chance on me. I always had a knack for scoring when I was centre-forward in the youth team, but when I got into the reserves, I was shifted out of that central role towards the wings.

“I always tell people that I was given a professional contract when I was 17 because Kevin Jobling, an apprentice with me, had his 18th birthday on 1 January, while mine was on 19 January. They got us both in together and I signed with Kevin two weeks before my birthday, while I was still 17.

“The manager was Gordon Milne. In my first year as an apprentice, I was with the likes of first-teamers Ian Andrews, Ian Wilson, Bobby Smith and Ian Banks. Gary Lineker was still there. It was great for me as a 16-year-old. My job on a match day was to sit on the bench for first team games. If the ball went over the stand opposite the Main Stand, I had to count the chimneys on the houses behind that stand to identify the house with the back yard where the ball landed. I would then go round, knock on the door and ask if I could have the ball back. I also had to make sure that the match ball was pumped up correctly for the referees. If the players needed boots or shirts changing, I had to go into the boot room, and bring them back out. If anybody wanted anything, it was my job to do this.

“It was great for me, straight from school, to be thrown into that environment. It was better watching from the bench than being up in the stands because you got a real feeling for the game when you were right down next to the pitch.

“When Bryan Hamilton became manager, Dave Richardson, who used to look after the young pros, told four or five of us that the new manager didn’t really fancy us. Bryan thought I was too soft. So one day I played a youth team game which changed the way people thought about me. I went in for challenges, attacking every ball. After that, Bryan introduced me into first team training.

If the ball went over the stand opposite the Main Stand, I had to count the chimneys on the houses behind that stand to identify the house with the back yard where the ball landed. I would then go round, knock on the door and ask if I could have the ball back.

Paul Reid

“We went to Valencia for a mid-season trip just before my debut (against Southampton in March 1987). Striker Steve Moran was injured so I played in Valencia. We beat them 2-1. I set the winner up for Alan Smith. As we were getting towards the end of the week, I remember Russell Osman, who was captain at the time, telling me that I might have a chance of playing at the weekend because Steve Moran was touch and go. We got back to Britain and went straight down to Southampton. After our pre-match meal, Bryan told me I was starting up front with Alan Smith. I was 19!

Peter Shilton was in goal for Southampton. After a few minutes, I had a chance to score. I was on a one-on-one with Peter and I struck the ball really well but he was off his line so quickly. It was a great day for me.

“The next week we played Charlton at home. Steve Moran was fit and I was on the bench. My mum and dad had missed my debut, but they came for this match. I came on for about 10 or 15 minutes. It was the first time my dad had seen me play professional football.

“I played a few games on the left hand side and when David Pleat became manager in January 1988, he played me in a reserve game on the right hand side. I was surprised. I’d never played on the right wing in my entire life. But you could see the method in his thinking. He’s got a good football brain. I then did quite well until the end of the season, playing on the right wing in the first team.

“Pleat’s first game in charge was Crystal Palace at home. He put all the kids in: me, Steve Wilkinson, Kevin Jobling, Phil Horner and Tony Brien. Palace had Ian Wright up front, Alan Pardew played and we ended up drawing 4-4. We were 4-2 down at one time. I scored from about 30 yards right on the touch line. Steve Wilkinson and Tony Brien also scored. Pleat didn’t get rid of the old guard, but he stamped his authority on the Club straightaway.

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Paul Reid vs Valencia
Paul Reid vs Valencia

Paul impressed against Spain while on a trip with the Club.

“He sold a couple of players, and moved Ali [Mauchlen] from centre-midfield to right-back, where he excelled. We had Gary Mac (McAllister) in the middle with Paul Ramsey. He brought Peter Weir from Aberdeen and goalkeeper Paul Cooper, whose distribution was so good, from Ipswich Town. He brought Nicky Cross from West Brom. He changed all the team round and we went on a great run until the end of the season, which took us from bottom of the table to mid-table in the old Second Division. On the last match of the season we went to Middlesbrough who were top of the league and we beat them 2-1. It was a successful spell.

“After that he brought a few more players and I got shifted around. I played central midfield, and on the left. We had signed Tommy Wright at that time who also used to play on the right and the left. Gary Mills was there too and he had also a spell on the right hand side.”

Paul will always be remembered for his 1987/88 goal of the season at Blackburn Rovers.

He added: “I have still got the big silver tray I was awarded for that goal. Funnily enough I was talking to my wife about this the other day and we noticed that the date of the goal was 19 March, 1988. That’s a long time ago! On that day, I scored two goals up at Blackburn. One was from near the half-way line. People told me that, at the time, it was the only occasion that an away goal had won the Supporters’ Goal of the Year. I’ve still got the video of it and it’s on YouTube.

That game always sticks in my mind. Either Leicester or West Brom would go down. To get that win and to find out that Bristol Rovers, down to 10 men, had beaten West Brom was an amazing feeling. It was good for caretaker-manager Gordon Lee because he had been there with David Pleat and it was just great for the Club.

Paul Reid

“David Pleat did not have a successful time at Leicester, but his football knowledge was out of this world. He did well for me because he gave me an insight into how the game was played. No disrespect to previous managers, but they expected you to know what to do when you were on the pitch. Dave Richardson was really good with us between the ages of 16-18 and David Pleat’s tactical and technical knowledge about the game opened my eyes and taught me a few things.”

Paul continued as a regular first-teamer from 1988 until 1991. He played in the famous last game of the season against Oxford United on 11 May, 1991 when Leicester City were fighting to avoid the drop to the old Third Division for the first time in their history.

“That was some atmosphere at the Oxford game!" Paul continued. "That game always sticks in my mind. Either Leicester or West Brom would go down. To get that win and to find out that Bristol Rovers, down to 10 men, had beaten West Brom was an amazing feeling. It was good for caretaker-manager Gordon Lee because he had been there with David Pleat and it was just great for the Club. I remember the game really well, with Tony James scoring the winning goal for us. We felt as a team that we had enough to win the game and the Leicester crowd, who were always very vocal both at home and away, were behind us. This really spurred us on.”

Brian Little was appointed manager for the start of the next season, 1991/92.

Paul added: “This was my last season at Leicester. It was a little bit disappointing how it ended. One or two things happened. He played me at left wing-back. I made a mistake in a game at Millwall and from then I didn’t get in the team. I had to look elsewhere although it was gutting to leave Leicester. I had been there since I was 14. I had so many friends in Leicester. But in football, if your face doesn’t fit, you have to make a living somewhere else. I enjoyed my time at Leicester. It was my first club. I scored my first goal for them away at Scunthorpe in the Littlewoods Cup. I played over 180 games for them and scored over 25 goals.

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Paul Reid
Paul Reid

Paul left Filbert Street for Bradford City in 1992.

“I went on loan to Bradford City, but then went back and trained for a week with Leicester prior to their Play-Off Final at Wembley against Blackburn Rovers. I was technically still a Leicester player. I went down to Wembley which was great although obviously the result wasn’t the best. I came back for pre-season training and Bradford City’s manager Frank Stapleton made an offer. I had a chat with him and signed a two-year contract. Then I went to Huddersfield where Neil Warnock was manager. In my first season there we got promoted through the Play-Offs. I missed the Play-Offs, though, which was another gutting one for me. I’d played in all the games up until then, but was ill and then ruptured my knee! So I missed the last game of the season, the two Play-Off Semi-Finals and the Final at Wembley. I still got a medal because I played 44 games that season."

A couple of years at Oldham Athletic were followed by three years at Bury and a move to Swansea City in May 2002.

He explained: “I’d been in contact with Gary Crosby, an ex-Huddersfield team-mate, who was assistant manager at non-league Burton Albion with Nigel Clough. He asked me if I fancied going to Burton when my contract at Bury finished and I did, but then the youth team manager at Bury, ex-Leicester City team-mate Andy Feeley, had a phone call from another ex-Leicester player, Nick Cusack, who was Swansea’s player-manager, to see if I fancied going to Vetch Field. I went to Swansea to have another season in the Football League.”

This was Paul’s last season in league football. He added: “I finished at Swansea in March 2003. We had just bought a house down there, my wife had a good job and the kids were settled in school. I had a couple of offers to play in the Welsh Premier League so I went to Carmarthen Town and then to Afon Lido. When I was about 38 or 39 I decided to call it a day. I then had a couple of spells in the Welsh Premier League as assistant-manager. I coached and then managed at Port Talbot Town, we finished third in the Welsh league and we got into the Europa League qualifying round in 2010.

“In 2013 I moved to Swansea City’s academy coaching the Under-15s. I really enjoyed it. I want, with my experience, knowledge and coaching badges, to give something back to the young players.”

Paul stayed at Swansea City’s academy for six years. He is currently working at the Forest Green Rovers academy.

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