MR JOHN NEAL
I've been awake since 3.30am.
I don't know if it's because of hearing the loss of my first full Professional Football Manager John Neal, but I feel a deep deep affection/respect for this man, as when I was first invited at Chelsea for my trials.
That first time I didn't tink I made a good impression, but was invited back a second time.
I was called to the managers room, (which was opposite the laundry room back then), that early Friday afternoon to be told that I was signing professional forms till the end of the remaining 1981 season !!!!!
He ~ John Neal gave me my chance in professional football, even when he made that decision, after only four months from joining, to make my debut was a difficult and tough decision for him to make (& WE ALL KNOW WHY)!!!!
The story goes on....... I was sent off in our first game of 1983-84 away to Brighton (my very first and only sending off in my short career)
We had a huge following for that match, not unusual at the time and more support than the home team. I cried when walking off, all because I reacted to the provocation of being spat in the face (in my mouth if you don't mind) by a Brighton player, who i will refrain from mentioning.
Because of that instant dismissal I had to go to a FA tribunal with John Neal, who spoke out and said to them "I WOULD HAVE REACTED TOO, AND KNOCKED THE BLOKES HEAD OFF"....... He had my back!
That was the kind of manager John Neal was to me, and I'm sure to fellow players alike!
Thank you SIR for all that you showed, taught and the faith to sign me and give me my dream chance in proffessional football