Trevor Francis

Trevor Francis entered football management after a highly successful playing career.

His latest managerial reign was with Crystal Palace where he had been appointed as The Eagles' new manager on November 30 2001, ironically replacing the man who was eventually installed as his successor at St. Andrews, Steve Bruce.

Trevor parted company with Birmingham City "by mutual consent" on October 15 2001 having spent five-and-a-half years in charge of The Blues after taking over from the ebullient Barry Fry in May 1996.

Trevor actually started his career with Birmingham in 1971 and was the youngest player ever to appear for the Blues in league competition. He later became the first British player to be transferred for £1 million when he moved to Nottingham Forest where he was a European Cup winner scoring the crucial goal against Malmo in 1979.

He subsequently played for Manchester City, Sampdoria and Glasgow Rangers and was capped 52 times by England during his successful career.

Trevor joined Queens Park Rangers as player/manager in 1988. He then moved to Sheffield Wednesday in 1990 as a player and was appointed manager in 1991 when Ron Atkinson left the club to manage Aston Villa.

Trevor enjoyed a tremendous first two seasons in charge of The Owls leading them to third place in the league on their return to the top flight, in the last year of the old First Division. The following season saw Wednesday reach the finals of the FA and League cups where they were unfortunate to be beaten by Arsenal on both occasions but were rewarded with a place in Europe for their efforts.

Despite respectable seventh place finishes in 1993 and 1994, Francis was dismissed by the club in 1995 as the team struggled to move beyond mid-table and he spent some time as a commentator and pundit on Sky Sports televised games, something he has continued to do during his time at St. Andrews.

He joined Birmingham as manager in May 1996 and took the club to the brink of promotion to the Premiership in 1999 and 2000, losing in the semi-finals of the Division One play-offs on both occasions.

In 2001 he masterminded a fantastic League Cup run, taking the Blues all the way to the final in Cardiff having seen off Tottenham, Newcastle and Ipswich in previous rounds.

After a hard-fought draw against Liverpool at the Millennium Stadium and having had chances to win the game in extra-time, Birmingham went into a penalty shoot-out with the Merseysiders. The choice of goal behind which the shoot-out was going to take place was decided before the game by the police and it happened to be the end which the Liverpool supporters were behind.

The Reds held their nerve from the spot and Francis, having lost his third major final as a manager, was angry that his team had been forced to take their kicks in front of the opposition's fans.

Francis was to experience a feeling of déjà vu in the 2001 play-offs. Having fallen away in the race for automatic promotion in the last two months of the season, Birmingham hung on to finish 5th in the table and entered the play-offs for the third season in a row.

Facing Preston in the semis, Francis saw his team battle to a 2-2 aggregate draw against the First Division newcomers and for the second time in a four months, Birmingham's fate was decided from 12-yards.

Again the penalties were taken in front of the oppositions' fans and Francis claimed that he was told the goal that was going to be used for the shoot-out, which Preston won 4-2, would be at the other end of the pitch, where the Deepdale ground was empty.

In the event, the match referee Paul Danson moved the shoot-out on police advice. Francis was visibly furious at the decision and he removed his players from the pitch briefly, before sending them back on to take their penalties.

In a season of ultimate disappointment, he was still able to take encouragement from the way his players performed against some of the Premiership's big names.

It was hoped that the following season would finally bring success and a promotion to the top flight for Birmingham but Francis left the club after discussions with the board.

His fourth managerial appointment soon came around however when Simon Jordan invited him to become manager of Crystal Palace, Birmingham's First Division rivals.

Despite an excellent run in the FA Cup that year, which included a 2-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield, Francis left the club in April 2003.

Honours (1)
  • personal-awards
    • Birmingham City:
      • Manager of the Month, Sky Bet Championship, (2001-02-01)
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