Stephen James Coppell is an English retired football player and manager. Originally from Liverpool, Coppell studied at Quarry Bank High School, where he was part of their football program. Despite drawing the attention of some major clubs, he chose to play for the lower league Merseyside club Tranmere Rovers because he wanted to pursue a degree in economic history at the University of Liverpool. In 1975, he joined Manchester United and became one of their most prolific players of the time. He was a gifted right-winger whose speed and work rate made him an indispensable part of the team. During his eight seasons there, he scored 53 goals. He also played for the English national team, scoring seven goals in 42 matches. His playing career was cut short in 1983 due to a knee injury, and he subsequently became a manager. In the ensuing years, he has managed teams like Crystal Palace, Manchester City, Brentford, and Bristol City. The first Indian club he managed was the Indian Super League team Kerala Blasters. In 2018, he was appointed as ATK’s head coach.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on July 9, 1955, In Liverpool, England, Steve Coppell was a student at Quarry Bank High School in south Liverpool.
A light-footed, fast wide player, he declined the opportunities to join major clubs in his youth and instead chose to be part of the lower league Merseyside club Tranmere Rovers, as he decided to attend the University of Liverpool for a degree in economic history.
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Career as a Player
By 1974, Steve Coppell was part of Tranmere’s main football team. He was simultaneously a student at the university and served as a coach of the university team. However, in 1975, he signed to Manchester United after the team agreed to double his wage.
Despite his commitment to Manchester United, Coppell finished his education and earned his degree. He had his professional debut as a substitute in a 4–0 win over Cardiff City on March 1, 1975. That season, he helped his club find its way back to the First Division after it spent a season in the Second.
In the mid-1970s, Manchester United was managed by Tommy Docherty, who had assembled a team comprised mostly of youths like Coppell. What they lacked in experience, they made up for through their exciting football.
They stormed back to the First Division and found their way to the 1976 FA Cup Final, where they were considered favourites against the Second Division team Southampton. However, the pressure of playing in the FA Cup final proved too much for the players in United’s young team, including Coppell. They lost 1-0 to the more experienced Southampton side.
In 1977, Manchester United finished the season in sixth place but managed to secure a position among the teams qualified for the FA Cup. They reached the final again, defeating Liverpool 2-1 this time. Coppell had an instrumental role in his team’s successful FA Cup campaign that year. Manchester United also won the 1977 FA Charity Shield.
In 1976, he played one match for English U23 team. After he had a successful season in 1976-77, he got called up to the senior side for England’s final qualifying game for the 1978 FIFA World Cup against Italy at Wembley. While they won the match 2-0, it was already too late and England failed to qualify for the finals.
In a qualifier for the 1982 FIFA World Cup against Hungary, Coppell was struck with a brutal high challenge from József Tóth. His knee was shattered, and an operation was performed on it. Despite not making a full recovery, he continued to play for both his country and club.
He even played a few matches at the 1982 FIFA World Cup. However, his knee splintered again in 1983, and he had to undergo another operation. Coppell ultimately took the decision to retire in October 1983.
Career as a Manager
In June 1984, Coppell landed his first management job at Crystal Palace. His first spell with the club lasted until 1993. In his second spell (1995-96), he came back as the Director of Football.
In 1997, he returned to the club as the Chief Scout but was later reinstalled as the manager. His third spell ended in 1998. The fourth and most recent one lasted about a year between 1999 and 2000.
In late 1996, Coppell served as the manager of Manchester City only for 33 days. He later admitted that he resigned because the stress was too much for him. His tenure has been the shortest of any City manager to date.
Coppell had a relatively successful reign (2003-09) at Reading. In 2006, he received the Premier League Manager of the Month accolade in September and November.
He managed Brentford (2001-02), Brighton & Hove Albion (2002-03), and Bristol City (2010), and served as the Director of Football at Crawley Town (2012-13) and Portsmouth (2013-14).
The first ISL team he managed was Kerala Blasters in the 2016-17 season. He has also managed Jamshedpur in the 2017-18 season and ATK in the 2018-19 season.
Family & Personal Life
Steve Coppell married Jane E. Humphreys in 1981. They have a son together, Mark. He also has a son named Sam Stephen Coppell with air hostess Anna Christian Boehm.