Danny Bergara was the first foreign manager to take over an English League club - when he arrived in the country in 1988 from Uruguay via Spain.
He began playing at the age of 16 in the Uruguayan First Division, picking up a handful of under-21 caps for Uruguay before arriving at Real Mallorca in 1962 aged 20. He spent 10 years in the Spain and was top scorer for Real Mallorca for four seasons and at Sevilla for two years. It was whilst playing in Spain that he met and married his English wife and when he retired from playing it was a natural move back to the UK. At the time of his move his manager at Sevilla, Vic Buckingham, warned him against breaking into the English game saying "English football was for the British."
Danny was to not listen and prove otherwise opening the door for our present crop of foreign managers including Wenger, Ericcson, Mourinho and Benetiz. He once recognised the effect he had on the game saying in an online Observer article that "...It's possible that in a little way I helped open the way for the likes of Mourinho and Eriksson.."
For a while it looked like Vic was right as Danny struggled to open the necessary doors into management. As he told the Observer online
"...one of my wife's cousins knew Harry Haslam, the Luton manager. In 1972 he made me youth-team coach, but even though I had an English wife and two children, I couldn't get a work permit till the Luton chairman told the Home Office I was going to work for him, loading lorries..."
By 1980 he was coaching the England youth team. From there he managed to secure Reserve Team Manager Positions at Luton Town and Sheffield United. These were followed by First team appointments at Rochdale in 1989. He was there a year before moving to the place where he is most fondly remembered, and where he enjoyed his most success - Stockport County. It was with the Hatters that he won promotion (leading them to the second tier of English football) and a number of Wembley appearances - 4 in total, though they lost all of them. After 6 years at County he enjoyed roles at Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham United, before returning to management at Doncaster Rovers, at the same time as the club were featured in a Channel 4 'fly-on-the-wall' documentary. In the summer of 1998 he became manager of Grantham, though a string of poor results saw Bergara become the club Director of Football. Bergara also had a spell as manager of the Brunei National team, but later took up scouting for Sunderland.
Danny is remembered by County fans with huge fondness, both as one of the most successful managers in the history of the club and as one of the warmest, most friendly men that many have had the pleasure of meeting. After his death on July 25th 2007 tributes in Edgeley Park's Cheadle End were formed - there was even a 'Danny Bergara day' on Saturday 28th July 2007, where floral tributes were left in the Cheadle end goalmouth by current Stockport County manager Jim Gannon and Cardiff City manager Dave Jones before the fans sang "Danny Bergara's blue 'n' white army" for 2 minutes.
This trail-blazer muich loved by the football community and fans alike will be greatly missed, but his contribution to the English game will live on as more and more foreign managers come to these shore and English football is no longer just for the British....