Roy Hodgson’s career has taken him to eight different countries spanning six decades, but it has finally come full circle following his appointment as Crystal Palace manager.
It was in SE25 where it all began for the 70-year-old, who was a member of the Palace youth side during the 1960s having been born and bred in Croydon. He lived in the same building as future Eagles favourite Steve Kember, and would feature for the club’s academy sides before being released in 1965 having not reached the first-team.
A modest non-league playing career followed where he turned out for Tonbridge Angels, Gravesend & Northfleet, Maidstone United, Ashford Town, Carshalton Athletic as well as a spell in South Africa, all of which he combined with being a PE teacher.
His big break in the coaching world came in 1976 when his former manager at Maidstone, Bob Houghton, recommended him to Swedish side Halmstad. Hodgson would prove to be a success, transforming the club’s fortunes from relegation strugglers to league champions within 12 months, and would win two championships in five years.
He would have short stints in England and Sweden before tasting further glory with Malmo themselves during the late 1980s, who would top the league five times, win the championship twice and claim two Swedish Cups under Hodgson’s management. A stint as manager of Swiss side Neuchâtel Xamax followed before he was handed the country’s national team job in 1992, guiding them to their first major tournament since 1966 by qualifying for the 1994 World Cup.
He would also reach Euro 96 before spending two years at Inter Milan, whom he led to the 1997 UEFA Cup final. A first crack at the Premier League was handed to him at Blackburn Rovers the following season, before spells at Grasshopper Zurich, FC Copenhagen, – where he won a Danish league title – Udinese, Viking and the national teams of the UAE and Finland came during the next decade.
He returned to English football at Fulham in December 2008, and managed to pull off a fantastic escape from relegation that season to help solidify the Cottagers in the top-flight. In his first full season at the helm, he steered them to their highest-ever finish of seventh place, earning a spot in the Europa League the following campaign, and Hodgson amazingly took Fulham all the way to the final, where they were defeated by Atletico Madrid in extra-time.
He gained further experience in the Premier League at Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion before being named England manager ahead of Euro 2012 following Fabio Capello’s resignation. He took the Three Lions to the quarter-finals of that competition before reaching both the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016, and would win 33 of his 56 games in charge of his country.
Now aged 70, he has finally returned to Selhurst Park where it all began half a century ago to try and transform the fortunes of his local club.