Malcolm Allison, the visionary coach who helped inspire Manchester City to their only post-war title success in 1968, has died at the age of 83.
Allison arrived at City in 1965 as assistant manager to Joe Mercer. City went on to win the Second Division championship in 1966, the League title in 1968, FA Cup in 1969 and European Cup-Winners Cup and League Cup in 1970.
Allison went on to manage 11 clubs home and abroad, leading Sporting Lisbon to the Portuguese League and Cup in 1982. He also managed the national teams of Turkey and Kuwait in a long and varied career.
During his playing days, Allison made more than 250 appearances at centre half for West Ham, before losing a lung as the result of contracting tuberculosis in 1958.
“Big Mal” – as he was known – and was famed for the “Lucky Fedora” he wore during one of Crystal Palace’s Cup runs and for his larger than life personality.
A statement on the Manchester City website read: “Flamboyant, brilliant and larger than life, Malcolm will be sorely missed by everyone at the Club and beyond.”
City plan to pay tribute to Malcolm at the forthcoming game against Arsenal, and have also pledged “an appropriate commemoration to his life and work in the memorial garden at the City of Manchester Stadium”.
Club ambassador Mike Summerbee, who played under Allison, added: “Malcolm changed football by making us train like athletes, in that respect he was ahead of his time and he was a great tactician as well.
“He was also one of the lads – in effect he was the twelfth player from the sidelines but he knew how to crack the whip and we respected him.
“He was a great psychologist; he knew how to handle me and how to get more out of me. He did the same for Colin Bell, Francis Lee, Neil Young and all of that great side.”
City life president and former general secretary Bernard Halford, who knew Malcolm for over 40 years, told the BBC, “We will never see the likes of him ever again, and he did so much for the club.
“The signing of [captain] Tony Book as a masterstroke, but he enhanced the careers of so many other players and they worshipped him.
“You knew he was in a room with you, not many people have that kind of presence but Malcolm did, and he transferred the confidence he had in himself to the team. He felt we could beat anybody and he wanted the players to think that way too.”