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Paul Cook


 May 2015 -


Paul Anthony Cook (born 22 February 1967) is an English professional football manager and former player who is currently manager of Portsmouth.

Cook played as a central midfielder during a playing career that spanned 23 years from 1983 until 2006, notably in the Premier League for Coventry City. He also played in the Football League for Wigan Athletic, Norwich City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Tranmere Rovers, Stockport County and Burnley. He also played Non-league football for Marine and Accrington Stanley. He moved into management in 2006 with Southport and later Sligo Rovers. In February 2012, he returned to English management with Accrington before moving to Chesterfield in October of the same year. In May 2015, he was appointed manager of League Two outfit Portsmouth F.C after a release clause was met in his Chesterfield contract.

Playing career

Born in Liverpool, Lancashire, Cook began his career at his local non-league team Marine before being quickly signed up by Wigan Athletic, where he featured in almost one hundred games in a four-year spell. Cook then had a brief and unsuccessful spell at Norwich City before moving to the Midlands to play for Wolverhampton Wanderers for £250,000.

He was a very popular player during his time at Wolves, both with the fans and his team-mates and became known for his deadly and accurate left foot. After over 190 appearances for Wolves over five seasons in the second tier, he made the short journey to Premier League Coventry City.

He played the majority of the club's games in his first season (1994–95) but fell from favour during the following campaign, where he made only three appearances. In February 1996, he was sold to Tranmere Rovers for £250,000.

Whilst at Tranmere he became a key member of the team, playing sixty games in just eighteen months. In October 1997, Tranmere accepted a bid of £250,000 from Stockport County and so regained the fee they had paid for Cook in the first place. After twelve months at County, Cook began to be regarded as 'too old', despite being just 32. This led to his move to Burnley, initially on loan but fully signing in July 1999 to play under Stan Ternent.

Cook experienced an "Indian summer" to his career, making 130 league appearances over a four-year spell. During this period he established excellent understandings with many players, especially Lee Briscoe and the two often devised new free-kick routines to catch Division One defences off-guard.

After a falling out with the manager, Cook went on loan to one of his old clubs, Wigan Athletic, but made just six appearances before he was re-called to again take his place in the starting line up at Turf Moor. Cook left Burnley at the end of the 2003 season, at the same time as Andy Payton. The two players got a standing ovation from the fans for their contributions to the club.

Defying doubts about his fitness and age, Cook signed for non-league team Accrington Stanley and went on to become a first team regular in their push for promotion to the Football League. This target was finally achieved in the 2005/06 season when Stanley were crowned Champions. Having achieved this aim, Cook finally retired after almost 600 league appearances for nine different teams.

After the end of the 2005/06 season, Cook was granted a testimonial by Accrington as a thank-you for his hard work. It was played on 2 May 2006 at the Interlink Express (now the Fraser Eagle) Stadium, Accrington against a Burnley Select XI featuring old team-mates Dean West, Lenny Johnrose, Ian Cox, Kevin Ball and son Liam.

Management career

Cook was appointed manager of Conference side Southport on 13 June 2006, a post he was sacked from in January 2007 following defeat at Northwich Victoria.

He became manager of Sligo Rovers on 27 April 2007, taking over from Rob McDonald, who resigned before the start of the season. At the press conference when he was unveiled he stated that he was from Liverpool and that he will not have anything to do with any journalist from the Irish Sun, (due to the articles printed about Liverpool supporters during the Hillsborough disaster). He guided Sligo to a credible 6th place league finish in his first season. His second year (2008) saw him guide Sligo to fourth in the league and thus secure a UEFA Cup place.

He departed in January 2009 by mutual consent, but soon returned just weeks later.

In his third season, under severe financial constraints, he guided Sligo to sixth place. In addition, Cook guided Sligo to the final of the FAI Cup which took place on 22 November 2009. Sligo lost 2–1 to Sporting Fingal despite holding a one-goal lead with seven minutes remaining.

Cook's first silverware as Sligo manager came in September 2010, after a 1–0 win over Monaghan United in the final of the League Cup. In November 2010, he guided Sligo Rovers to win the 2010 FAI Cup Final, 2–0 in a penalty shoot-out against Shamrock Rovers. In November 2011, he again brought Sligo Rovers to win the 2011 FAI Cup Final, which for the second year running went to penalties. Sligo Rovers beat Shelbourne 4–1.

Cook spoke with Accrington Stanley and these talks eventually concluded with Cook announcing his move back to his old playing club. He led the team to a 14th-placed finish in League Two at the end of the 2011–12 season and continued to coach the side for the opening months of the following campaign. However, on 25 October 2012 he joined League Two rivals Chesterfield on a two-and-a-half-year contract, taking over from Tommy Wright, who had been in charge of the Derbyshire club on a caretaker basis following the departure of John Sheridan two months earlier. The end of his first season saw him guide Chesterfield to eighth position finishing just two points outside the play-off zone. In the following year he led Chesterfield to the League Two championship and promotion, and they comfortably maintained their new League One status in 2014-15, reaching sixth place and the play-offs.

In May 2015, Cook was appointed manager at Portsmouth F.C following a release clause being met. It was believed to be around £150,000 compensation.

Media career

He has appeared on RTÉ coverage of matches.




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