Kevin Poole

Former Player Remembers: Kevin Poole

When he met Club Historian John Hutchinson, Bromsgrove-born goalkeeper Kevin Poole, who played nearly 200 games for Leicester City between 1991 and 1997, discussed his career in football as a player and a coach.
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Kevin began by recalling how he began his career as an apprentice at Aston Villa in 1981.

“When I was a schoolboy at Villa, Brian Little was the youth coach. I played in Villa’s first team but when Brian went to Middlesbrough as reserve team coach, he took me there. Graham Taylor had just taken over at Villa. He told me I wasn’t big enough. This really bugs me. Fabian Barthez was 5’10” and he was a World Cup winner!

“When Brian joined Leicester in 1991, he asked me to join him. My contract was up at Middlesbrough and I jumped at the chance. I was in the side for most of the season but missed the play-off final against Blackburn through injury.

“Next season, I was back for the play-off final against Swindon. We pulled it back to 3-3 after being 3-0 down. I conceded a penalty late on. I just brushed his shoulder. He went down far too easily but David Ellery gave a penalty and they scored. It was so disappointing for it to end like that. Sickening!

“We just had to start again the next season. I missed that season’s victorious play-off Final against Derby but played throughout the following season in the Premier League when I was Player of the Year. I had a lot to do! We were relegated!

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Kevin Poole

Poole was between the sticks for City in the play-off final against Swindon Town.

“It was a shame that Brian left that season. He was brilliant for the Club. (New manager) Mark McGhee liked big keepers so he bought Zeljko Kalac who was 6’7”. He had two games, didn’t do well and Mark had to reinstate me.

Martin O’Neill came in half way through the next season. After a bad start, he pulled it round. We reached the play-off final against Crystal Palace. I remember pulling off a save from Bruce Dyer. His shot from the edge of the box was going in towards the top corner but I flung myself at it and managed to touch it over. 

“I was absolutely gutted when Martin, anticipating penalties, replaced me with Kalac just before the end of extra time. That was just devastating. I wouldn’t have minded if Martin had said he was going to do this and he never said a word to me about it afterwards. But then [Steve] Claridge scored four seconds from the end.

“Back in the Premier League, Martin brought in Kasey Keller and I didn’t play many games, so at the end of the season I went to Birmingham where Trevor Francis was manager.”

Kevin stayed at St. Andrew's until 2001. He became a regular in the first team in September 1998 but he was injured in March 2000 and only played once more before being released in May 2001, although he returned on a short term contract in September 2001 to cover for the injured Ian Bennett.

They hadn’t got a goalkeeper. He asked me if I’d play a game or two. We won my first game and I kept a clean sheet.

Kevin Poole

A month later Kevin signed for Bolton Wanderers, newly promoted to the Premier League, mainly as a back up to Jussi Jääskeläinen. He spent four years at the Club before moving to Derby County as a goalkeeping coach in July 2005.

Although he was by now 42-years-old, Kevin registered as player in case of emergencies in addition to his coaching role. He then played seven times that season for the Rams as they fought against relegation from the Championship.  

Kevin left Pride Park in May 2006 and moved to Burton Albion who were then a Conference side.  

Thinking back, Kevin continued, “I moved to Burton in 2006 when I finished at Derby County. I got a call from Burton’s manager Nigel Clough about two days before the start of the season. They hadn’t got a goalkeeper. He asked me if I’d play a game or two. We won my first game and I kept a clean sheet. Then he asked me if I’d stay a month and I did, then three months and then to the end of the season.

“To start off I wasn’t coaching. For the first three years I was just a player. They trained twice a week, but I’d got a coaching job at Birmingham so I’d just turn up on Saturdays to play. Nigel (Clough) was very good like that.

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Kevin Poole

The shot-stopper played 46 times for the Foxes in total.

“I was Burton’s Player of the Season in 2006/07. Every year we progressed up the Conference until we got promotion to the Football League in 2008/09. It’s a great thrill to be back in the Football League. When I first went to Burton I didn’t expect that to happen!”

Kevin signed a new contract in June 2009. He was 46 and this made him the oldest player in the Football League. He also became goalkeeping coach at the Club. Despite announcing his retirement as a player in April 2012 at the age of 48, he re-registered as a player in October 2012 as emergency cover alongside his coaching role.

In 2014, Kevin accompanied the ex-Leicester City full-back Gary Rowett, who had been manager at Burton, to Birmingham City as goalkeeping coach.

When Rowett became Derby County’s manager in March 2017, Kevin accompanied him back to Pride Park as his goalkeeping coach. His next move, in November 2018, was as goalkeeping coach to National League side Kidderminster Harriers. He then joined another National League club, Solihull Moors, as goalkeeping coach in September 2020.

Kevin concluded by saying, “Football is all I’ve ever known since I was a kid. I enjoy working with goalkeepers and with the youngsters as well. I try to give back some of the experiences I’ve learnt over the years to the kids and try to progress them.”

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