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George Burley

Managing: Ipswich Town
Nationality: Scottish
Date of Birth: 03/06/1956


Himself a product of the famous Ipswich youth set-up, and now it's keenest promoter, George Burley was born in Cummock, Ayrshire. He joined Ipswich as an apprentice in 1972 and made his senior debut the following year against Manchester United at Old Trafford, when he was responsible for marking George Best.

He was an integral part of he Ipswich Town side that became a European force in the game in the late 1970s and early 80s, tasting FA Cup glory in 1978 when the Blues beat Arsenal 1-0. Unfortunately, injury robbed him of a place in Town's other major success of that period, a UEFA Cup Final triumph over AZ67 Alkmaar in 1981.

In total, this polished attacking left-back made more than 500 appearances for the club as well as picking up 11 senior caps for Scotland. In 1985, he headed North to Sunderland, a move that started a mini-tour of Britain. George came South again to join Gillingham, then packed his bags and set off for Scotland and Motherwell in 1989. In 1990 he was appointed player/manager of Ayr United but three years later he moved on to Falkirk as a player before returning to Motherwell as player/coach. A year later, he was on his way across the border again - this time to Colchester to become player/manager in June 1994.

A fine start at Layer Road soon brought him to the attention of Ipswich Town once more, and he resigned at Colchester on December 24th, 1994 before being appointed Portman Road boss four days later.

Under the chairmanship of David Sheepshanks, George built an entertaining young team at Portman Road that topped the divisional goal charts in the 1995/96 season, just missing out on the play-offs, and then went close to securing a place in the play-off Final at Wembley in 1996/97, only to be cruelly denied on away goals by Sheffield United at the semi-final stage.

In 1997/98 he guided his side to a top six finish again and this time they lost out to Charlton in the semi-finals, while the next season it was Bolton who ruined Town's promotion play-off hopes, again at the semi-final stage.

Burley finally took his team into the Premiership in 2000 after beating Barnsley at Wembley in the Division One play-off final and The Blues were the surprise package of the 2000/2001 season, more than holding their own in the top flight despite being strongly tipped for a rapid return to the Nationwide league.

The team finished the season in fifth position, qualifying for the UEFA Cup, thereby returning European football to Portman Road for the first time in 20 years. Burley was suitably rewarded with the LMA Manager of the Year and Carling Premiership Manager of the Year awards.

Unfortunately, their success was not to be repeated the following season and, after a brief run in Europe, Burley's side found themselves bottom of the Barclaycard Premiership at Christmas.

Despite rallying at the turn of the year, they could not make up the ground on the teams above the relegation zone, and a 5-0 defeat at Anfield on the last day of the season condemned the Suffolk side to a return to Division One.

With his policy of promotion from within and encouraging youth, Burley will be hoping that he can return the club to the top flight for a second time.

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Colchester United

Reproduced under permission from the League Managers Association.
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