Andy Gray (footballer, born 1955) : biography
Andrew Fortescue Mullen Gray (born 30 November 1955 in Glasgow) is a Scottish retired footballer who played for several clubs in Scotland and England. He also represented his country. He was a primary football pundit for Sky Sports, as well as a presenter on Andy Gray’s Last Word and Andy Gray’s Boot Room, until his dismissal in January 2011 following multiple allegations of sexism. Gray, along with fellow disgraced former Sky pundit Richard Keys, signed with talkSPORT in February 2011.
After hanging up his boots, Gray entered coaching as an assistant at Aston Villa, and spent six months at Sheffield Wednesday as reserve team coach under David Pleat before focusing full-time on his television work.
Gray started his professional career as a player with Dundee United where he scored 46 goals in 62 appearances.
In October 1975, at the age of 19, he headed south to Aston Villa (newly promoted to the First Division) and won England’s golden boot in 1976/77 with his tally of 25 league goals. His 29 goals in the following season earned him the PFA Young Player of the Year and PFA Players’ Player of the Year awards (a historic double not repeated until Cristiano Ronaldo won both awards 30 years later and Gareth Bale won both in 2013). At the time he was the youngest player to earn the Players’ Player of the Year award, and the first player to win more than one of the official three player of the year awards in the same season.
Gray then moved to Villa’s local rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers in September 1979 for a then-British record £1.5m. After scoring the winning goal for Wolves in the 1980 League Cup final, he remained with the club through their relegation in 1982 (despite interest from Manchester United) and promotion a year later.
He moved to Everton in November 1983 for £250,000. He enjoyed two seasons with the Merseyside club, winning the FA Cup in May 1984 (scoring in the final against Watford in controversial fashion by heading the ball out of Watford’s goalkeeper’s hands).
A year later, he won the League Championship and European Cup Winners’ Cup, also scoring in the final of the latter. He also reached another FA Cup final, but this time he was on the losing side as Everton were defeated by Manchester United.
Then came the arrival of England striker Gary Lineker from Leicester City in the 1985 close season. Despite angry petitions from Everton fans wanting to keep Gray at Goodison Park, he left the club on 10 July 1985, returning to Aston Villa in a £150,000 deal.
Despite starting the decade on a high as league champions in 1981 and European Cup winners in 1982, they had now declined to mid table mediocrity and the return of Gray was unable to turn things around as his arrival at Everton had done. He scored five goals from 35 league games in 1985–86 as Villa narrowly avoided relegation to the Second Division, and the following season he failed to score a single goal from 19 league games as Villa fell into the Second Division. He began the 1987–88 season still with Villa, but was transferred to their local rivals West Bromwich Albion in September 1987 having not featured in a first team game for Villa that season. His spell at Albion lasted less than a year, and was uneventful as they narrowly avoided relegation from the Second Division.
In mid-1988, he joined Rangers. He spent one season at Ibrox, helping them win the Scottish Premier Division title – the first of nine successive titles they would win.
He dropped into non-league football with Football Conference club Cheltenham Town before retiring in 1990.
Gray’s Player of the Year accolades in England were not enough to convince Scotland manager Ally MacLeod to select him for the 1978 World Cup squad, as he was somewhat controversially excluded.
Gray won 20 caps for Scotland, scoring 7 goals for his country. He also won four caps at Under-23 level and played at schoolboy level. His full international debut came on 17 December 1975 in a 1–1 draw with Romania. He was not selected for any of Scotland’s World Cup squads during his playing days. His final senior appearance for Scotland came on 28 May 1985 in a 1-0 win over Iceland in a 1986 World Cup qualifier. This had been his first cap for two years, despite him scoring twice in his penultimate appearance for the national side on 19 June 1983 in a 2-0 friendly win over Canada, and him excelling on the club level for Everton after his transfer to the Merseyside club later in 1983.