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Ian McNeill

Norwich Career: 1999-2000 (European Scout)
Current Club: Retired
Date of Birth:  
Nationality: Scottish

Biography

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 at both 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 assistant manager," 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 or two," 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 Duncan Forbes. "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.

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