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Former Coventry boss Sillett dies aged 85


John Sillett (right) celebrates Coventry's 1987 FA Cup victory
John Sillett (right) was manager of Coventry when they won the FA Cup in 1987, the club’s first major trophy

Former Coventry City manager John Sillett, who guided the club to FA Cup victory in 1987, has died aged 85.

Sillett managed the Sky Blues between 1986-90 and was at the helm when the club beat Tottenham 3-2 in the final at Wembley for their first major trophy.

As a full-back, he began his career as a player at Chelsea and made more than 100 appearances for the club, winning the First Division title in 1954-55.

He played for Coventry and Plymouth Argyle before moving into management.

“Obviously the family are really saddened by dad’s passing but we are all so proud of him and what he achieved,” a statement from Sillett’s family said.

“His ability to spot things tactically, change them during a game and enhance the abilities of players was top class, the respect he had from top people in the game and the kind words we have already received already underline the high regard in which he was held by the football world.”

George Curtis, who was joint-manager at Coventry alongside Sillett during the 1987 season, died in July this year aged 82.

In a statement, Coventry described Sillett as an “icon” and said the club were “devastated” to learn of his death.

“‘Snoz’ will forever be loved and remembered by Sky Blues fans and all who met him, who will remember a larger-than-life character who loved football and Coventry City,” the statement said.

Ogrizovic and Bennett lead player tributes

Former Coventry goalkeeper Steve Ogrizovic, who played for the Sky Blues from 1984-2000 and was a member of the 1987 FA Cup-winning team, told BBC CWR: “He was one of those people who whenever he entered a room, he lit it up with his charisma and personality.

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“He was great fun to be around, he told some brilliant stories, very humorous and he’ll be greatly missed.

“He was a great believer in round pegs in round holes and he just made players feel far, far better than they actually were.”

Forward Dave Bennett, who scored Coventry’s opening goal at Wembley, said Sillett created a “special bond” among the squad of players, who are still friends to this day.

“On and off the park, the spirit of the 87 team is epitomised by John Sillett, with George (Curtis) putting a little bit of discipline in. He was a good speaker, he always made sure he was getting his point across, he was inspirational.

“The person who brought me to Coventry was Bobby Gould, when John was still doing the youth team. When he stepped up to being the first-team coach he sat us down in the changing room and said ‘how can I get the best out of this team?’

“We all said we wanted to play to feet to get the best out of Cyrille (Regis), myself and other members of the squad and he just galvanised us. He wanted us to have fun, we wanted to enjoy our football and it all knitted together.”

Bennett added: “He knew when to give us a telling off but he also knew to when we needed to go out and let our hair down. He was a fantastic motivator, gentlemen and a close friend.”

Howard Wilkinson, chairman of the League Managers’ Association said: “I have been privileged to have known John for many years. He was a genuine, well-meaning gentleman, greatly admired throughout football for his honesty and professionalism.

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“Football has lost a great servant and our thoughts and condolences are with John’s family and friends at such a sad time.”

Sillett’s career

After starting his career at Chelsea, Southampton-born Sillett became Jimmy Hill’s first signing at Coventry in 1962 for £3,000. He went on to make 128 appearances for the Sky Blues and was part of the team that won promotion to Division Two in 1962-63.

Sillett left Coventry in 1966 to join Plymouth, where he ended his playing career, before being appointed a youth coach at Bristol City.

He moved into management with Hereford in 1974, where he won the Third Division title, and returned to the club in 1991 after his time in charge of Coventry came to an end.

Sillett had rejoined the Sky Blues as a coach in 1979 on the invitation of Hill and spent five years on the staff.

After a short a short spell away, he returned to the club again in 1986 as chief coach, leading Coventry to the greatest day in their history a year later.

Speaking at the time of Coventry’s FA Cup victory, Sillett said: “I would have thought that was as good a final as there’s been for a long time. We had great belief George (Curtis, joint manager) in the boys and they went there and they didn’t disappoint.”





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