|Managing:|| Derby County|
|Date of Birth:|| 11/05/1954|
John Gregory was appointed as manager of Derby County on January 30 2002, less than a week after resigning from Aston Villa having spent four years at the Villa Park helm.
The 47-year-old said he left the post for 'personal reasons' but it was felt by many that continued disagreements with Villa Chairman Doug Ellis was the main cause of his departure, which came halfway through the 2001/2002 season with Villa in a strong position in the Barclaycard Premiership.
Despite an original statement from Villa that Gregory wished to take a break from the game, he was quickly installed to take charge of Villa's midland rivals Derby County - The Rams third manager of the season - and faced the task of preserving their Barclaycard Premiership status.
Gregory had been the surprise choice as the man to succeed Brian Little mid-way through the 1997/98 season. However, the renowned Bruce Springsteen fan, soon proved his worth guiding Villa from the lows of the relegation zone to a UEFA Cup place.
As a player, Gregory enjoyed a distinguished career, which saw him play for several teams. He was signed from apprentice at Northampton Town before moving to Aston Villa in 1977, where he spent two years before signing for Brighton. From there he went to QPR, in 1981, before signing for Derby County in 1985, staying with the Rams until for a two years before effectively hanging up his boots.
Gregory was a tireless midfielder who made nearly 600 appearances in his career scoring 83 goals and winning six full international caps for England.
Gregory served his managerial apprenticeship at a variety of clubs, first as a manager with Portsmouth, then briefly at Plymouth and then in a coaching capacity at Leicester City, before being appointed First Team Coach at Villa Park in November 1994. He left Villa to become manager of Wycombe Wanderers in October 1996. After taking over a struggling Wycombe team he steered them clear of relegation in the 1996/97 season by 8 points.
He led Villa to the top of the Premiership following an unbeaten start to the season in 1998, which lasted a club record twelve matches. However, they were not able to maintain their title challenge and fell away in the second half of the season.
In his four years in charge of Villa, the team never finished outside the top eight, finishing 7th in his first half-season as manager, 6th in 1999 and 2000 and 8th in 2001.
Noted for speaking his mind, Gregory had his fair share of run-ins with players and chairman Doug Ellis alike but he was always 100 per cent committed to the club and was unfortunate not to taste success in the FA Cup Final 2000, losing to a single goal from Chelsea's Roberto di Matteo.
He had criticized the club for failing to invest sufficiently in new players but his passion and determination to lead Villa to glory remained undiminished.
His departure came as a shock to players and fans alike and his achievements at Villa Park will be long-remembered by everyone connected with the Midlands club.
He was immediately linked with the managerial vacancy at his old club Derby County and, after being contacted by the club about the position, he was unveiled as Colin Todd's successor on January 30 2002.
His first priority at Pride Park was to keep The Rams in the Premiership, but with Derby lying second from bottom and six points adrift from safety at the time of his arrival, he was uable to save them.
Despite a slight improvement in their results, The Rams were relegated to the First Division, making Gregory's task one of attempting to take them back to the top flight.
Aston Villa, Wycombe Wanderers, Plymouth Argyle, Portsmouth
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