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Darlington sign Northern Ireland winger Keith Gillespie

Keith Gillespie
Gillespie has 86 caps for Northern Ireland

Darlington have signed former Northern Ireland international winger Keith Gillespie following a successful trial with the Blue Square Bet Premier club.

Gillespie, 35, has 86 caps for his country, and has made 477 appearances since his Manchester United debut against Bury in the 1992-93 FA Cup.

His most profitable spells came with Newcastle and Blackburn, winning the 2002 League Cup with the latter.

Glentoran were his last club, having left them at the end of last season.

Comparisons were made with another Northern Ireland winger in the mercurial George Best when he emerged at Manchester United as a teenager, scoring on his debut in the cup.

However, with Ukraine winger Andrei Kanchelskis occupying the right-wing spot in the United side, Gillespie found regular football hard to come by and eventually moved on to Newcastle United as a £1m-valued makeweight in Andy Cole's £7m transfer to Old Trafford in January 1995.

His arrival at Newcastle brought the winger under the management of Kevin Keegan, who used the Irishman to great effect in his attack-minded line-up.


The combination of Gillespie on one flank and France international David Ginola on the other was a key part in Keegan's 'Entertainers' side that challenged Manchester United for the Premier League title in 1995-96.

After more than 100 league appearances, and a string of fine contributions in both domestic and European competition, his next move was to Blackburn in December 1998, costing the Lancashire club £2.35m.

Although unable to avoid relegation in his first season at Ewood Park, Gillespie was a key figure in the club's promotion back to the top flight in 2000-01 and went on to win the League Cup, his only major honour, against Tottenham Hotspur in 2002.

Productive stints with Leicester City and Sheffield United were followed by injury affected spells at Charlton and Bradford, and then a move to his native Northern Ireland with Glentoran.

Gillespie had been declared bankrupt in October of this year, after HM Revenue and Customs took action over a tax bill.

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see also
Bridge-Wilkinson stays at Quakers
15 Nov 10 |  Darlington
Ex-Man U player declared bankrupt
01 Oct 10 |  Northern Ireland
Keith Gillespie profile
01 Oct 10 |  Northern Ireland
Gillespie makes exit from Glens
25 Jun 10 |  Irish

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