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A Football Background: Neil Redfearn

11 October 2015

A look back on the career of Neil Redfearn...

Neil Redfearn started his playing career at Nottingham Forest but made his professional breakthrough in the early 80s at Bolton Wanderers.

The classy midfielder enjoyed a solid grounding at Burnden Park before switching to Lincoln City where he would play over 100 times in a two-year spell.

He first pitched up in South Yorkshire when he signed for Doncaster Rovers in 1986, but stayed for just one season before spells in the south with Crystal Palace and Watford.

His move back up north to join Joe Royle’s Oldham Athletic proved to be a smart decision. He played a major role as the Latics won the old Second Division Championship, which saw the Lancashire club reach English Football’s top flight for the first time in 68 years.

Redfearn didn’t get his chance to play in the top flight, moving back to South Yorkshire to sign for Barnsley where he would enjoy some of the best years of his career. After several steady years in mid-table of what is now The Championship, Redfearn became the heartbeat of a side that started to challenge for promotion consistently during the mid-90s.

During the 1996/97 campaign Redfearn scored 19 goals in all competitions as the Reds finished second in the second tier, to secure top flight football for the first time in their history.

Under Danny Wilson he excelled in the top flight and bagged 14 goals in league and cup despite Barnsley’s relegation. He also helped the Reds to the FA Cup quarter-final in the same season.

His form in England’s elite division attracted the attention of several Premier League clubs and he joined Charlton Athletic for £1m after seven years at Oakwell.

He would enjoy two more years in the top flight with the Addicks and then Bradford City before a move to Wigan Athletic in 2000. Now in the twilight of his playing days he would represent Halifax Town, Boston United and Rochdale as he continued to play well into his late 30s.

Whilst at Halifax he got his first taste at management after taking on the caretaker reigns on two occasions. He also assumed coaching positions at Boston and Scarborough whilst still being registered as a player. After spells as permanent manager with Scarborough and Northwich he landed a coaching position in the youth setup at York City, where he would later become assistant manager.

His big break in coaching came at Leeds United when he joined their youth team setup in 2009, before taking the role of Academy Manager in 2012. During the period of 2012 to 2014 Redfearn was handed control of first-team affairs on a caretaker basis, and after impressing on several occasions he landed the top job full-time in 2014.

Despite leading Leeds to a comfortable mid-table position last season he left the club before joining the Millers on a deal until the end of the 2017/18 season.

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