Born in County Durham, Brian was an FA Youth Cup winner with Aston Villa in 1972. He went on to play 302 times as a striker for Aston Villa helping them rise from the ‘old’ Third Division in 1972 to the top flight three years later. He made a single appearance for England in 1975, was a League Cup winner in 1975 and 1977, and was a regular for five seasons in the top flight.
In 1980, aged 26, his playing career was ended by a knee injury. Brian stayed at Villa Park as a youth team coach before moving to Third Division Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1986, first as a coach and then as caretaker-manager at the start of their spell in Division Four.
Moving to coach at Middlesbrough Brian played an important part in that club’s two successive promotions from the Third Division to the top flight before becoming the manager of the League’s bottom club Darlington in February 1989.
He transformed Darlington, leading the Quakers to the Conference title in 1990 and to the Division Four title in 1991.
In May 1991, impressed by this achievement, Leicester City’s Chairman Martin George contacted Darlington’s Chairman, met Brian, agreed to give him three years to turn the Club round, and then announced his appointment as Leicester City’s new manager.
Brian recruited Allan Evans and John Gregory to work with the professional players and Steve Hunt and David Nish to work with the youth players.
He introduced a new set of rules at the training ground, emphasising the importance of punctuality, the obligatory wearing of flip-flops, and the importance of wearing the correct attire and of being clean shaven on matchdays. He also got rid of the pool table.
This was the start of the process which resulted in three successive Wembley Play-off finals for Leicester City for a place in the Premier League. The first two finals resulted in defeats by Blackburn Rovers in 1992 and Swindon Town in 1993. The third final was the victory over Derby County in 1994.
Halfway through the 1994/95 Premier League season, with the Club struggling, Brian resigned, ostensibly for personal reasons. Three days later, he became Aston Villa’s manager. The hostile reception he received when he returned to Filbert Street with his new side eight days later demonstrated the anger that Leicester City fans felt about the nature of his departure.
With the passage of time though, there is now a general acceptance that Little laid solid foundations in his time at Filbert Street. He rescued the Club from five years of steady decline and created a good basis for future progress. As for Brian, he went on to manage Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion, Hull City, Tranmere Rovers, Wrexham and Gainsborough Trinity.
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