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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 April, 2004, 04:34 GMT 05:34 UK
Profile: Ron Atkinson
Ron Atkinson pitchside in 1999
Atkinson made his impression on the soccer world as a manager
As a player, manager and pundit, Ron Atkinson - widely known as Big Ron - has been involved in professional football for more than 40 years.

A question mark now hangs over his future after he resigned from ITV Sport following a racist comment made "off-air" in the wake of Chelsea's defeat to Monaco on Tuesday.

The 65-year-old former Manchester United and Aston Villa manager has attracted attention in the past for his often clumsy on-air comments and eccentric turn-of-phrase.

He has provided summaries at five World Cups, six European Championships and many other major matches for ITV including Champions League and FA Cup finals.

BIG RON'S CAREER HIGHS AND LOWS
1956 - signs for Aston Villa
1961 - helps Oxford United win Southern League
1971 - ends playing days with Witney Town
1978 - takes over at West Bromwich Albion
1981 - lands top job at Manchester United
1983 and 1985 - Manchester United win FA Cup
1986 - sacked from Old Trafford
1988 - leaves second stint at West Brom for Atletico Madrid
1989 - takes over at Sheffield Wednesday
1994 - sacked by Aston Villa
1999 - decides to concentrate on media career
2004 - resigns as pundit for ITV Sport after making racist comments off-air

On resigning, he said he had made "a stupid mistake" - which he regretted - and pointed to his track record of bringing on black players during his coaching career, particularly at West Brom.

Atkinson had concentrated on punditry since leaving management in May 1999, when he failed to prevent Nottingham Forest's relegation from top flight football.

It was as a manager that Atkinson really made his mark on the game, with his most successful spell at Old Trafford.

He led Manchester United to FA Cup victory in 1983 and 1985, not finishing lower than fourth position in the First Division.

Greener pastures

However, his failure to win the league title meant he was replaced by Sir Alex Ferguson in 1987, after six years at the club.

After a spell at West Bromwich Albion, Atkinson looked for greener pastures abroad with a brief stint at Atletico Madrid.

He returned to England in 1989 to take on the top job at Sheffield Wednesday.

The Owls endured relegation under his charge but subsequently bounced back to the top flight and won the League Cup in 1991.

His success attracted Aston Villa, who Atkinson led to Premiership runners-up spot in 1993 and League Cup success in 1994.

Cult following

But he was sacked after a poor start to the next season and moved on to Coventry, a club struggling to keep in the top flight.

Coventry moved him "upstairs" to director of football but, craving hands-on management, he filled in for six months at Wednesday, staving off relegation in 1998.

An attempt to do the same thing for Nottingham Forest a year later failed - leading Atkinson to move into the commentary box.

His "Ronisms" while commentating attracted a cult following, with a website devoted to his expressions such as "early doors", "lollipop" and "back stick".

He first came to the attention of the soccer world as "The Tank", playing more than 400 games for Oxford United as they rose from the Southern League to Division Two.

He had moved to the club after failing to make the grade at Aston Villa, whom he joined in the late 1950s.




SEE ALSO:
Monaco 3-1 Chelsea
20 Apr 04  |  Champions League
Footballers speak out over racism
15 Apr 04  |  Education


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