Norwich City appointed
former Leeds United talent spotter Ian McNeill as the club's new
European scout in April 1999. The 67-year-old Scotsman previously
worked with manager Bruce Rioch
Millwall and Bolton - where he was chief scout - and joined the
Canaries after recently leaving Leeds with four months remaining
on his Elland Road contract.
"I got a wee bit restless - maybe I wasn't on the same wavelength
as David O'Leary,"
said the vastly-experienced McNeill, whose
major achievement in West Yorkshire was to sign Dutch star Jimmy
Floyd Hasselbaink for the Elland Road club. "I'm delighted to
be reunited with Bruce after working for six years with him,"
said McNeill, keen to iron out the finer points of his official
Carrow Road job title. "It's assistant to the manager - but not
stressed McNeill, whose old job at Leeds
has gone to Ian Broomfield.
A free-scoring inside forward with Leicester and Brighton in his
playing days, McNeill is, like former Canary director of football
Bryan Hamilton, a former manager of Wigan. He had two spells at
Springfield Park between 1968-70 and 1976-81, taking the Latics
into the Football League in 1978. He was also in charge of Shrewsbury
from 1987-90. In the early '80s he was assistant to John Neal at
Chelsea, and actually assumed the manager's job at Stamford Bridge
for a short stint when Neal fell ill.
As a scout McNeill's track record makes impressive reading. During
Rioch's time at Bolton he discovered Dutchman Richard Sneekes, and
later brought Yugoslav midfielder Sasa Curcic to Burnden Park before
top boss George Graham displayed his faith in McNeill's talents
by whisking him away to Leeds. "On four of the players I brought
in at Bolton - Curcic, Alan Thompson, Nathan Blake and John McGinlay
- the club made £10million on top of what we paid for them,
said McNeill, who continued in much the same vein at Elland Road.
Discovering Hasselbaink in Portugal with Boavista remains his greatest
claim to fame, but this season's cruciate knee ligament injuries
to both Austrian defender Martin Hiden and Dutch team-mate Robert
Molenaar have robbed Leeds of two further potential success stories.
When asked about his contacts abroad, "Oh, aye - we've got one
laughed McNeill, well-served by an extensive network
of continental contacts. "Whether you like it or not, agents
have become part and parcel of the game - and there's one I can
pick the phone up and speak to in every European country. "The way
it worked with George Graham is that they would make a recommendation,
we would get a video and if we liked what we saw I'd go and see
him. After that the manager either goes to look himself or signs
him - that's how it worked with Jimmy Hasselbaink and he's been
an absolute revelation."
And while the Canaries are not working to the same financial agenda
as Leeds, McNeill is happy to cut his cloth accordingly - while
also supporting the domestic work of chief scout and fellow Scotsman
. "I'll help Duncan as
much as I can with the local stuff,"
said McNeill. "I'll
be looking at players all through the summer, mainly those who might
be available on Bosman. I've got contacts in every country who I
hope will come up with some good stuff."
(Eastern Daily Press,
April 20 1999)
Ian parted company with the Canaries on 3rd August 2000 at the age
of 68 and was hoping to wind down his European travels.