Leicester City In 100 Players: Ian Wilson
Wilson, a midfielder and full-back, who was a key player for Leicester City under Jock Wallace, Gordon Milne and Bryan Hamilton played over 300 games for the Club between 1979 and 1987, most of them in the top flight.
He then moved to league champions Everton, for whom he appeared in the 1989 FA Cup Final.
After spells as a junior at Aberdeen and Dundee, Ian was playing part-time for Elgin City in the Highland League and studying Business Studies at College when Leicester manager Wallace paid a transfer fee of £30,000 to sign him for Second Division Leicester City in April 1979.
Following his first team debut for the Foxes in a League Cup tie against Rotherham United, Ian became a regular in the first team for the next eight seasons.
Leicester City, 1979
The Leicester City squad of 1979, managed by Jock Wallace.
Initially playing as a playmaking midfielder he was an important and influential member of the Leicester City side which won the Second Division title in May 1980.
The following season in the old First Division, Ian played in 45 of the 47 league and cup matches. The side was relegated at the end of the season but Liverpool, who were European champions that season, were beaten twice by Leicester City at Filbert Street and at Anfield.
The next season (1981/82) saw the team finish eighth in Division Two, but Jock Wallace’s side did have a memorable run in the FA Cup until defeated 2-0 by a Tottenham Hotspur side in the semi-final at Villa Park, when Ian scored an own goal and Tommy Williams broke his leg.
Wallace left Filbert Street at the end of the season. He was replaced by Milne, who led City to promotion in his first season. This was largely due to an unbeaten run of 15 games from mid-March until the end of the season. Ian’s impressive form, playing wide left or central midfield was a key factor in the Foxes’ success that season.
Up against Nottingham Forest's Steve Wigley in 1983.
During this run, Ian scored the vital winning goal at Craven Cottage against promotion favourites Fulham. Promotion was finally achieved following the last match of the season, a 0-0 home draw against Burnley, although this wasn’t actually confirmed until early the following week when the Football League resolved a controversy relating to Fulham’s final match of the season.
Leicester City then had four years in the top-flight. Although Ian preferred playing in midfield, Milne switched him to left full-back and also made him captain. Ian still views these four years as the best and most enjoyable of his career.
Despite this good form, Leicester City were relegated in May 1987. The previous month, Ian was selected, along with his Leicester teammate Gary McAllister, for the Scotland B international match against France in a fixture played at Pittodrie in his home city of Aberdeen.
Eric Cantona was in France’s team. Two months later, at the age of 29, he won the first two of his five Scotland caps when he was selected to play against England and Brazil at Hampden Park.
Facing England's Chris Waddle during an international match at Hampden Park in 1987.
Back in the Second Division for the 1987/88 season, it was intimated to Ian that to maintain his place in the Scotland side, he needed to be playing in the First Division and in September 1988 he signed for the Toffees for a fee of £300,000. He spent two seasons at Goodison Park, appearing as a second half substitute in the 1989 FA Cup Final against Liverpool.
After two seasons at Everton, Ian rejoined his old Leicester boss Milne who was manager at Turkish giants Beşiktaş. He then had spells at Derby County, Bury, Wigan Athletic and Peterhead as well as going full circle and returning to Elgin.
Ian also worked with Milne as assistant manager at Nagoya Grampus Eight (with Gary Lineker in the team) and, two years later, was Milne’s assistant again at Bursaspor, back in Turkey.
Today, Ian is running a soccer school in Aberdeen but his time at Leicester will never be forgotten. Indeed his picture is included on the main staircase at King Power Stadium along with other notable players from the Club’s history.
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