Russell Slade, 55, was never a first team professional footballer. He started out as a PE teacher at Frank Wheldon Comprehensive School after studying sport at university. One of his pupils was BT Sport commentator Darren Fletcher who said of him: “He was a fantastic teacher, who knew when and how to show authority, but was always willing to have a laugh at the right times.”
He started on the managerial ladder in 1994 at Notts County where he was assistant to Mick Walker. When Walker was sacked the following year, he took over briefly before the legendary Howard Kendall took charge. Slade returned to being assistant.
While he was briefly caretaker manager at Sheffield Utd in 1998 he took on Phil Jagielka, now one of the best defenders in the Premier League. “When we played Everton in the [Capital One] Cup Phil gave me a signed shirt with ‘Thanks very much, Russ’ written on it,” said Slade.
His first manager roles were in non-league sides Armitage and Leicester Utd. He took conference side Scarborough out of danger when he took over in 2001 with a run of 39 points in 19 games. The run continued the next season until the club was put into administration and he quit.
At League Two Grimsby Town, he put Spurs out the League Cup and only lost promotion to Leyton Orient, a club he would later manage.
He also lost out in a League One play-off final with Yeovil, where he managed for three years (2006-2009) and won manager of the year.
After saving Brighton from relegation in 2009, he went to Leyton Orient, six matches before the end of a season in which the O’s looked doomed. He kept them in League One with 10 points in the run-in and the next season took them to seventh and a fifth round replay against Arsenal in the FA Cup.
He joined Cardiff in the Championship in October 2014, replacing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. It was the first time he had ever managed above the third tier and he had to manage with a club with a Premier League hangover, including an inflated wage bill. While he never reached dizzying heights and had a fractious relationship with fans, he gave the club stability.
He has a career win percentage of 37.9% with his most successful spell at Orient where he won 103 of his 242 games in charge and lost 78. He also won League One Manager of the Year in 2013-14.