08 Feb 2021


The LMA is deeply saddened following the death of former manager Tony Collins, at the age of 94.

Tony was appointed Rochdale manager in 1960, becoming the first black manager in English league football and, just two years later, he led his team to the Football League Cup Final.

Prior to his career in management, Tony played professionally for Sheffield Wednesday, York City, Watford, Norwich City, Torquay United and Crystal Palace, before ending his playing career at Rochdale. In addition to his roles as assistant manager and caretaker manager at Bristol City, Tony worked as a scout for a number of clubs, including Leeds United and Manchester United, as well as for the England national team.

In 2017, Tony was presented with the LMA Service to Football Award at the 25th LMA Annual Awards Dinner.

Paying tribute to Tony, LMA Chairman Howard Wilkinson said: “Tony was a true pioneer of the sport. He was humble, hospitable, he had tremendous insight and was always generous with his time. His passion for football was so evident when you met him and he had some remarkable stories and memories to share.

“Above all, he should be remembered and revered for his achievements on and off the pitch. He was known throughout the game for his ability to recognise and nurture talent, a skill which enabled him to have a huge impact on the lives of others. Our sincere condolences go out to Tony’s family and loved ones.”

LMA board member, Sir Alex Ferguson CBE said: “I was really saddened to hear the news about Tony and send my deepest condolences to all of his family.

“One of my earliest recollections of Tony was of the very impressive job he did as manager of Rochdale, beating Blackburn to reach the 1962 League Cup Final. I then got to know Tony personally when I joined Manchester United and Tony was the Chief Scout. As well as being a valuable, knowledgeable and respected scout, he had such an engaging personality and I always enjoyed our conversations. 

“I was delighted to see Tony receive the LMA Service to Football Award a few years ago and enjoyed seeing how much enthusiasm, positivity and love he still had for the game. His family should be very proud of all that Tony achieved.”

LMA board member, Chris Hughton, said: “I am so sad to hear of Tony’s passing. In my role as an LMA board member, Tony has always been an inspiration to me as I continue alongside my colleagues to campaign to see more diversity in management and coaching across the game. He will be very sorely missed.”

LMA Chief Executive Richard Bevan added: “Tony’s ground-breaking career paved the way for individuals from under-represented and minority communities in English football. He enjoyed a long and successful career as a player, manager, and a respected advisor to fellow coaches at the highest level and is rightly celebrated as a special individual in the history of the game.

“Now, the best way for the game to honour Tony’s legacy is to increase opportunities for coaches and managers across football and to tackle discrimination within sport and throughout society. Our thoughts are with Tony’s daughters Sarita and Sandra, his son Andrew, and all his family and friends at this difficult time.”