Alan Nicholls

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Alan Nicholls
Personal information
Date of birth (1973-08-23)23 August 1973
Place of birth Sutton Coldfield, England
Date of death 25 November 1995(1995-11-25) (aged 22)
Place of death Peterborough, England
Playing position Goalkeeper
Youth career
Wolverhampton Wanderers
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1992–1993 Cheltenham Town ? (?)
1993–1995 Plymouth Argyle 65 (0)
1995 Gillingham 0 (0)
1995 Stalybridge Celtic 1 (0)
National team
1994 England U21 1 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Alan Nicholls (23 August 1973 – 25 November 1995) was an English football goalkeeper.

Alan started his career as a trainee at Wolverhampton Wanderers but never made the first team. He later played for non-league clubs Cradley Town and Cheltenham Town, before returning to the professional ranks when he was signed by Peter Shilton, who was then manager of Plymouth Argyle, for £15,000 before the start of the 1993/94 season. During his time at Plymouth, Alan's form was so impressive that Shilton was forced to play him - even though Shilton was himself chasing the 1,000 league appearances record. After his first season in professional football, Alan was called up to the England Under-21 team and played in the Toulon Tournament in the summer of 1994.

In his two years at Plymouth, Nicholls played 79 games for the club, gaining a reputation as a brilliant but larger-than-life footballer who was often in trouble off the pitch. After Shilton left Plymouth, Nicholls struggled with injuries and clashed with new manager Neil Warnock - who was keen to bring his own players into the club. In 1995, Nicholls was released by Warnock after a series of off-the-pitch indiscretions. He subsequently moved to Gillingham, and was technically still on trial at Priestfield Stadium when Stalybridge Celtic contacted the club to ask if they could borrow him to cover a suspension.

On 25 November 1995, Alan played for Stalybridge in a 3-1 win at Dover Athletic. After the game, Alan left with his friend Scott Lindsey, and Scott's brother, Matthew, and their father. Alan travelled in the car with Scott and his father, while Matthew followed on his motorbike. About an hour into their journey, Alan offered to travel on the back of Matthew's motorbike to keep him company. Soon afterwards, Matthew lost control of the bike near Peterborough and careered off the road. Alan and Matthew were killed instantly.[1]

Alan is buried in the grounds of St Paul's Church, Blackheath. The Three Lions emblem of the England national team is engraved on his headstone, as well as an action shot of him in goal.

In a 2007 web poll, Alan Nicholls was named Plymouth Argyle's second-best goalkeeper of all time, behind Jim Furnell, and is still remembered fondly by Plymouth fans.[2]

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