Don Revie was a football player for Leicester City, Hull City, Sunderland, Manchester City and Leeds United as a deep-lying centre forward. After managing Leeds United between 1961 to 1974 with great success, his reign becoming known as Leeds’ “Glory Years”, he managed England from 1974 to 1977.
Don Revie first signed as a footballer for Leicester City in 1944. From there he went on to play for Hull City in 1949 (transfer fee £20,000), Manchester City in 1951 (£25,000), Sunderland in 1956 (£22,000) and Leeds United in 1958 (£12,000). The combined transfer fees paid over his career were at the time (i.e. in 1958) a record in English football.
Don Revie won 6 caps for England, was Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year in 1955 and won an FA Cup winners medal with Manchester City in 1956. At Manchester City the playing tactic of using a deep-lying centre-forward (Don Revie’s position, evolved from the more traditional inside-right), and based on the style of the successful Hungarian national team, and in particular Nándor Hidegkuti, who invented the role, became known as the “Revie Plan”.
This tactic was of enormous significance in the development of football, moving permanently from the old 2-3-5 and WM tactics to 3-3-4, then 4-2-4 and 4-3-3 tactics.
Don Revie was made player-manager in March 1961 at Leeds. Although his tenure didn’t get off to a flying start, he won the Football League 2nd Division within 3 years as manager and once promoted took them to 2nd in the league and the FA Cup final in their 1st season in the top division. Don Revie developed the team that would by the early 1970s be the major force in English football. Don Revie was named English Manager of the Year in 1969, 1970, and 1972, and was awarded the OBE in 1970.
All in all Don Revie guided Leeds to 2 Football League 1st Division titles, 1 FA Cup, 1 League Cup, 2 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup titles, 1 Football League 2nd Division title and 1 Charity Shield. Don Revie also guided them to 3 more FA Cup Finals, 1 more Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Final and 1&1 Cup Winners’ Cup Final.
Don Revie was occasionally linked with other clubs during his tenure, most notably Everton in 1973, but his loyalty unwavered.
In July 1974 Don Revie was offered the job of England national football manager ahead of such luminaries as future Leeds boss Jimmy Adamson, but was unable to reproduce the success he had enjoyed at Leeds. England failed to qualify for Euro 1976 under his reign, and he was villified for lying about his wherebouts during qualification for the subsequent World Cup.
In 1977 he controversially quit the role to become coach to the United Arab Emirates. The FA suspended Don Revie from football for 10 years on a charge of bringing the game into disrepute, which Don Revie successfully overturned in court. After leaving the UAE coaching role in 1980 he took over management of Al Nasr, followed in 1984 by the Egyptian club Al Ahly of Cairo. Don Revie left within a year because his wife was ill at the time.
A controversial figure in his time, his team was criticised for its violent play and gamesmanship, most notably by Brian Clough, although it was widely recognised as among the finest of its day. Don Revie’s reputation suffered following his retirement due to the U.A.E. scandal and also because of highly controversial allegations that Don Revie had attempted to bribe opposition players and managers during his career – these allegations have been made by several senior players and coaches, such as Bob Stokoe, Jim Barron, Don Revie’s own goalkeeper Gary Sprake and more recently Frank McLintock. These claims have not been proven. However, in the years following his death, Don Revie’s reputation has at least partially recovered in spite of these scandals and he is now considered (by Leeds fans at least) as one the finest managers in English football history.
Don Revie continues to be worshipped by the Leeds supporters and beloved by his former team. The kop at Leeds United’s ground, Elland Road, is named after him. Don Revie was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2004 in recognition of his impact as a manager on the English league.
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