About Nigel Adkins
Turning down the offer of a new contract at Hull City was a difficult decision to make. I had joined the Championship Club in December 2017 with the club in 20th position and in danger of relegation. We finished that season 18th. The 2018- 2019 Season was to see a progression as we finished in 13th position. During the season I passed a milestone with my 500th English League game as a Manager. I enjoyed my time in Hull and the people I worked with. I left with good memories, new friends and a special positive relationship with the supporters.
Now 11 days out of contract I’m fit, healthy, eager to continue learning and ready for the next challenge. This time has however also provided me the opportunity to reflect on my career so far.
I was born in Birkenhead and loved playing all sports as I grew up in the North West of England. I was enthusiastic about football, basketball, rugby, cricket and athletics and thank my Dad and School PE Teacher Mr. Smith for the time, support and inspiration they provided me.
On the 15th March 1979 four days past my 14th birthday I signed as an Associate Schoolboy with Liverpool FC. My position was Goalkeeper.
Aged 16, I left school and signed as an Apprentice Professional footballer with my home town club Tranmere Rovers. On the 13th November 1982 aged just 17, I made my professional league debut against Colchester United. As far as I’m aware I’m still the youngest goalkeeper to play for Tranmere Rovers.
Now 21 years old and newly married I was transferred in 1986 to Wigan Athletic in the next division up, the old Division 3, for £3,000.
I had my share of injuries whilst playing and although I played 336 professional games I’m sure without the injuries I would have played many more. I fractured my left cheek bone and fractured my fingers at Tranmere. Worse was to follow at Wigan. In 1986 I fractured my Scaphoid bone in my wrist. In 1987 I fractured my right cheek bone. In March 1988 I required a spinal fusion operation to the lower back. In 1990 I required another operation this time for a patella tendon injury of the knee.
Although still very young for a goalkeeper footballer, I had a very tough decision to make. I had started preparing for a career after playing to be able to look after my wife and two young children. I was half way through a 4 year part-time Degree in Physiotherapy at Salford University. My contract was up at Wigan Athletic and I made the decision to join Bangor City in the League of Wales on a part time basis in August 1993. Within months I became the Player Manager and by the end of the season we were the Konica League of Wales Champions.
The following season 1994-1995 we won the League of Wales again by a comfortable margin. We had 2 seasons competing in the European Cup.
The move to Wales proved to be an excellent decision. As well as the success on the field and Managing the League of Wales representative side, I managed to complete my Honours Degree in Physiotherapy and attain my UEFA A Licence Coaching Award.
In 1996 I moved with my young family to Lincolnshire and accepted the role as Physiotherapist with Scunthorpe United. I still managed to play the odd time. Notably saving a penalty in a shoot out as we won the Lincolnshire Senior Cup Final beating Grimsby Town.
I combined my role as Physiotherapist with that of Goalkeeper Coach and Fitness Coach. I completed a Diploma in Sports Psychology which I have found to be of great benefit over the years.
In 1999 we played at Wembley Stadium before it was rebuilt and secured promotion via the play offs to League 1. This was just one of many happy memories as a Physiotherapist at Scunthorpe, another was our promotion in 2005 as Runners up in League 2.
In November 2006 and after 10 years and 557 games as the Physiotherapist, Scunthorpe United appointed me as Manager.
Six months later we were Champions of League 1 and heading for the Championship. We were relegated in 2008 however bounced straight back up to the Championship in 2009 via the Play offs and also reached the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final again at Wembley. The following season 2010 we stayed up in the Championship against all the odds, which today is still one of my proudest achievements.
By now I had added a Certificate in Applied Management from Warwick University and my UEFA Pro Licence Coaching Award to my academic and professional qualifications as I believe it’s important to have both.
In 2010 after a good start in the Championship with Scunthorpe United I joined Southampton who were 23rd in League 1. At the end of the 2011 season we were Runners Up and promoted to the Championship. Staying in the top two positions for the entire season we achieved back to back promotions which Saints fans, who I have a special affinity with, voted as the moment of the Decade as Southampton were promoted to the Premier League.
Sadly I left Southampton in February 2013 with us in 15th position in the Premier League having risen 51 places above when I took over as Manager.
A month later I joined Reading as Manager in the Premier League. I really enjoyed my time at Reading and the challenges we faced. I left in December 2014 and took some time to reflect on my career. I thought the opportunity to join Sheffield United in 2015 in League 1 was too big to turn down however it only lasted a season.
The Hull City Chapter is now over and with 630 games in charge, many experiences and many lessons have been learnt over the years that I intend to utilise in the future.
Even though I’ve been lucky enough to be a Player, Physiotherapist and Manager I think it's the managing side of the game that's in my genes. As a teenager playing for Tranmere Rovers I managed Renbad Rovers in Division 4 of the Birkenhead Sunday League. We moved up the divisions winning the League 1 title and Cup double, and then competing in the Premier Division.
Maybe once a Manager always a Manager…..