Carl Muggleton

Former Player Remembers: Carl Muggleton

Exactly 30 years ago this month, goalkeeper Carl Muggleton played for Leicester City in the Wembley play-off final against Kenny Dalglish’s Blackburn Rovers for a place in the newly established Premier League.
More on this story...

Carl recalled that experience when he spoke to Club Historian John Hutchinson about his playing career in football, which spanned over 20 years and saw him play 515 league and cup games for 13 different clubs. 

“When I was about nine or 10,” Carl began, “Leicester were starting their Centre of Excellence and I was invited by Dave Richardson to go to the Belvoir Drive training ground. We trained on Tuesday and Thursday nights. I signed schoolboy forms when I was 14. When 

“I was 15, I had a knee operation to trim the cartilage. The Club were really good about sorting this out for me. After that, we had a coach called Alan Hodgkinson, who had played in goal for England. He was brilliant. The Club arranged for me to have one morning a week off school to be with Alan. I never did catch up with my school work! From there, I was offered an apprenticeship and I signed professionally when I turned 18 (in September 1986).” 

As part of his development, Carl went on loan to third tier Chesterfield in September 1987, where he played 19 games. 

“I’d been a regular in the reserves at that stage and it was a great opportunity to go to Chesterfield,” he remembered. “You probably wouldn’t get the opportunity to play league football now just after your 19th birthday. Kevin Randall was the manager and he just told me to enjoy the experience.” 

The following season, Carl made his Leicester City debut at West Bromwich Albion on 21 January, 1989.

“That season, Hodgy (Martin Hodge) played in the first game and then had to have a groin operation. Coops (Paul Cooper) came in. I was in the reserves, and enjoying the training. I also had a loan spell at Hartlepool. It was a great learning curve, both technically and mentally. Hodgy was a big moaner, who wanted things done in a certain way. Coops was quite easy going, but was a true professional. 

While working there, Alan Bennett, the Leicester City secretary, phoned me at the double glazing office and told me I’d been picked for the England Under-21 team to go to France.

Carl Muggleton

“On the way home after a game, Coops had a car accident. With Hodgy out with his groin, I thought they might bring in a loan ‘keeper but they stuck with me. Making my debut for my local club was amazing, with the Leicester fans behind the goal. I also played in the next two games, until Hodgy was fit again to play.” 

The following season (1989/90), Martin Hodge was an ever-present and Carl spent some time on loan at Stockport County. 

“In the summer (of 1990), I was doing a bit of labouring for a friend who had a double glazing business. I was learning about life. You can get cocooned as a footballer. These lads were working 12-hour days and it gives you perspective. While working there, Alan Bennett, the Leicester City secretary, phoned me at the double glazing office and told me I’d been picked for the England Under-21 team to go to France.

“In those days the Club kept your passport, so I had to go to Filbert Street to collect it. The next day, I got a lift to Heathrow and joined up with Dave Sexton’s England Under-21 squad. Other players included Graeme Le Saux, Mark Robins and Lee Sharpe. I played against France. We won 7-3. 

“I started the next season (1990/91) in the first team, and then in September, the gaffer (David Pleat) wanted to do a swap deal with Liverpool, with me going to Anfield to gain experience and their ‘keeper, Mike Hooper, coming to Filbert Street. I was there for three months. Kenny Dalglish was manager. Bruce Grobbelaar was there, as were the likes of Ian Rush, John Barnes and Steve McManaman. I have some great memories from there.”

When Carl came back to Leicester, Mike Hooper stayed but Carl got back into the side and played 23 games that season. 

The following season (1991/92), new manager Brian Little signed Kevin Poole who became the established first team goalkeeper. 

“I didn’t play a lot that season,” Carl continued, “but I played towards the end of the season in the Zenith Data Systems (Full Members’) Cup semi-final against top flight Notts County. 

As for the build-up to Wembley, I spent a fortune on tickets for family and friends. The gaffer decided not to have suits for the players for Wembley. We just went in tracksuits.

Carl Muggleton

“When we were driving up the A46 to Notts County with the rain absolutely trashing it down, we were wondering if the game would be played. It was, and it went into extra time. We won 2-1. I remember coming out of the tunnel and seeing all the Leicester fans in the uncovered end getting soaked. We had a great turnout that night. 

“I also played in the play-off semi-finals and the play-off final at Wembley for a place in the Premier League. We faced Cambridge in the semi-final. We drew 1-1 at their place. Big Dion [Dublin] and Steve Claridge were playing up front for them. It was always a tough place to go. John Beck was the manager and he did things like having cold water showers for the away team. 

“In the second leg at Leicester, they had a lad sent off. This threw them completely and we won 5-0. After the game, we walked around the pitch in front of all the supporters. We knew we were going to Wembley to meet Blackburn Rovers. It was a great atmosphere. 

“As for the build-up to Wembley, I spent a fortune on tickets for family and friends. The gaffer decided not to have suits for the players for Wembley. We just went in tracksuits. 

“We went down two or three days before the match. We stayed at a hotel, trained in the morning and had a bit of free time in the afternoon. A couple of friends of mine who lived down that way came to see me. We were chatting in reception and I missed the coach taking the team to Wembley to watch the Fourth Division play-off final, so they could sample the atmosphere and have a good look round. They left me at the hotel! 

“I couldn’t believe it. I jumped into my mate’s car and we caught the coach in the car park, so I could get my ticket to go into the game. It was the first time I’d been to Wembley, so it was a good experience to go there and do that.

“I remember travelling to Wembley on the day of the game, with the nerves building up. A few of us sat in a little booth at the back of the coach and all of a sudden, we saw the Wembley towers as we were driving up. As we turned in towards the tunnel, there were loads of Leicester fans on either side of the coach. It was incredible. 

“When we walked onto the pitch, it was absolutely roasting and when we came out for the warm-up, it was so hot and stifling it was unbelievable.

“Then, it was back to the changing room for the final preparations. And then you walk out for the game. I always came out third or fifth. As you walked out from behind the goal at the old Wembley, all you could see were the Leicester fans and their ticker tape, balloons and everything. It was a great atmosphere. 

They had to get (goalkeeper) Russell Hoult down from the stands, where he was eating a hot dog, to make his debut! It turned out that I had a prolapsed disc. I had injections into my back and into the disc. I was worried that it might be the end of my career.

Carl Muggleton

“Once you get into a game you just focus. We had a couple of chances early doors. We were doing alright. I don’t remember having much to do, just a few back passes and a couple of crosses. Then [David] Speedie broke into the box and went down following a Steve Walsh challenge. I couldn’t believe it when the ref gave a penalty! Mike Newell, who I’d played with at Leicester, took it and scored, but I always felt we could get back into the game. 

“With about 20 minutes to go, Mark Atkins broke away for Blackburn. He had a big touch. I got to the ball at the same time as he did and I gave away a penalty. As I stood there waiting for the penalty kick, all sorts of things went through my mind.

“Would Newell go the same way as his first penalty? Would he try to double bluff me? Would he try to give me the eye? In those days, we didn’t have video evidence and all of the analyst stuff they have today about penalty takers. It was just mind vs. mind.

“I guessed the right way and touched the ball onto the post. It was an incredible feeling, but we ended up losing 1-0. It was a big disappointment, but the fans were absolutely fantastic at the end as we walked around the pitch. 

“I started the following season in the team, as Kevin Poole had a groin injury. Then, on my birthday, in the warm-up before the Wolves game at Filbert Street, I started doing some sprints but had to hobble back in.

“They had to get (goalkeeper) Russell Hoult down from the stands, where he was eating a hot dog, to make his debut! It turned out that I had a prolapsed disc. I had injections into my back and into the disc. I was worried that it might be the end of my career. 

“I was out until February, by which time Kevin [Poole] was back in the side. Then he got injured again, so I ended up back in the side. Towards the end of the season, I was injured against Oxford. Kevin got back into the side and did really well. We reached the play-off final again against Glenn Hoddle’s Swindon.

“I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t play in the play-offs that year, but the manager stuck with Pooley. I was on the bench at Wembley, and what a game that was! 3-0 down, back to 3-3 and then losing 4-3 to a late penalty! 

“The next season (1993/94) the Club brought in (goalkeeper) Gavin Ward and I wasn’t involved in pre-season training. Lou Macari, Stoke’s manager, wanted me on loan. The gaffer was surprised I went, but I would rather take a drop in wages and play than sit about doing nothing.

“Later that season, I went on loan to ‘Harry’ [Dave] Bassett’s Sheffield United. Lou Macari, who had left Stoke to become Celtic’s manager that season, came in for me again just after Christmas. You can’t turn a move to Celtic down! It was great up there. 

“At the end of the season, Macari got the sack at Celtic and returned to Stoke, who then signed me (in July 1994) and I stayed there for seven years. I was gutted to leave Leicester, being a local lad, but as I said earlier, I would rather take a drop in wages and go and play as opposed to not being involved.

“I went out on loan to several clubs from Stoke. If I wasn’t playing then I wanted to go out on loan to get some games.” 

Later in his career, Carl signed for Cheltenham Town in 2001, Chesterfield in 2002 and Mansfield Town in 2006. He then coached at Notts County, Gillingham and Northampton Town, as well as running his own driving school. 

Leicester City Crest

Latest News

Latest Videos

Latest Images