West Ham Legend
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John Lyall was one of the most successful managers in English football in the 1980s. The former West Ham full-back, forced out of the game by a horrific knee injury at the age of 23, showed immense courage and determination to transform himself into a top coach. Lyall led West Ham United to their highest-ever top-flight league position, won the FA Cup against the mighty Arsenal and took the club to the final of the European Cup-Winners’ Cup. He was revered by the Upton Park faithful who loved him, not just for his success, but for encouraging his teams to play football the Hammers way.
Cruelly sacked by West Ham in 1989, Lyall was soon snapped up by Ipswich Town, then languishing in the lower half of the old 2nd Division. Lyall achieved a minor miracle with the Tractor Boys winning promotion to the Premier League in only his second season at Portman Road.
In this fascinating insight into English football in the 1980s, Philip Stevens recalls how England managers, Sir Bobby Robson and Terry Venables regularly turned to the former West Ham coach for advice. The story of how these three top football brains worked together will make interesting reading for all football lovers.
In researching the book the author was privileged to have access to the Lyall family. The pride they have in John’s career is recalled here through a wealth of anecdotes and stories. The family’s involvement in the book provides a unique insight into the life of one of the most loved and respected figures in professional football in the past 40 years.