Alan McDonald (Northern Ireland footballer)

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Alan McDonald
Alan McDonald.jpg
Alan McDonald while manager of Glentoran
Personal information
Date of birth (1963-10-12)12 October 1963
Place of birth Belfast, Northern Ireland
Date of death 23 June 2012(2012-06-23) (aged 48)
Place of death Lisburn, Northern Ireland
Height 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Position(s) Centre back
Youth career
1979–1981 Queens Park Rangers
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1982–1997 Queens Park Rangers 402 (13)
1983Charlton Athletic (loan) 9 (0)
1997–1998 Swindon Town 33 (1)
Total 444 (14)
National team
1986–1996 Northern Ireland 52 (3)
Teams managed
2007–2010 Glentoran
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Alan McDonald (12 October 1963 – 23 June 2012) was a Northern Irish football manager and former professional footballer.

As a player, he was a centre back who spent most of his career in England with Queens Park Rangers, notably playing in numerous Premier League seasons. He would play 402 times in the league for the club over a sixteen-year spell at Loftus Road. He also had brief stints in the Football League with both Charlton Athletic and Swindon Town. He was capped 52 times for Northern Ireland and played at the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.

After retiring as a player, he briefly returned to QPR as a first team coach before going on to manage IFA Premiership side Glentoran from June 2007 until his resignation at the end of February 2010. McDonald collapsed and died whilst playing golf at the Temple Golf Club near Lisburn on 23 June 2012.[1][2]

Club career[edit]

McDonald joined Queens Park Rangers on 4 October 1979 as a youth player and spent 17 years with the club. Unable to break into the first-team early on in his career, he gained his first league experience whilst on loan at Charlton Athletic and made his league début versus v Crystal Palace on 4 April 1983. His QPR début was at Wolves on 24 September 1983 in a 4–0 away win. McDonald and QPR reached the final of the League Cup in 1986. By the late 1980s, McDonald was playing as stopper in QPR's sweeper system. During his time the club's best finish came in 1993 when they finished in fifth place and were the highest placed London club in the first season of the newly formed Premiership. Their worst came in 1996 when they were relegated.[3]

McDonald's last game for QPR was on 31 March 1997 in a home match v Wolves. He joined Swindon Town on a free transfer in the summer of 1997, making 36 appearances and scoring once in his last season as a player, 1997–98.[4]

International career[edit]

McDonald played 52 times for Northern Ireland, including the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, and worked as an assistant manager at Swindon Town and Northern Ireland national team.[5]

Coaching career[edit]

McDonald returned to QPR briefly in February 2006 as assistant to manager Gary Waddock but Waddock struggled as manager and McDonald left in September 2006. McDonald was appointed as coach of Glentoran to help manager Paul Millar. McDonald almost left the club when he heard that Roy Walker was appointed new manager, but due to not having UEFA badges, McDonald stepped in and was appointed manager.[citation needed]

Management career[edit]

In June 2007 he became manager of Glentoran in his native Belfast, where he stayed for three seasons, guiding the club to the IFA Premiership title in 2008–09. He also coached his country's under-21 side. After McDonald was appointed manager of Glentoran, he started to bring in new faces. He signed Dungannon Swifts winger David Scullion along with Rory Hamill. McDonald also brought in young promising players, including Daryl Fordyce, Philip Carson, Matty Burrows, and Shane McCabe. He also added goalkeeper Michael Dougherty as backup to Elliott Morris, and brought in Hearts defender Johnny Taylor. In his first full season as manager of the East Belfast club, McDonald led Glentoran to win the County Antrim Shield over Crusaders. In McDonald's second season, he led the club to become Irish Premiership champions after four years. During his second season McDonald continued to bring in new faces, after selling Michael Dougherty, McDonald brought in Dundela keeper James Taylor. In his third season in charge McDonald started by signing former Northern Ireland international Keith Gillespie and Newry City player Richard Clarke. But Glentoran went on a losing streak, and after a 6–0 home defeat to Coleraine, fans turned against McDonald and calling for him to resign. McDonald stayed on until his side lost 2–0 to Dungannon Swifts F.C. and McDonald resigned after the game.[6][7]

McDonald did not manage since resigning from Glentoran, although he was linked with the Ballymena United manager's job following the resignation of Roy Walker. McDonald also owned a trophy shop in Bangor.


On the morning of 23 June 2012, McDonald collapsed and died while playing golf at Temple Golf and Country Club near Lisburn, Northern Ireland.[1][2] The IFA posted a short statement on its official website – "The Irish FA is saddened by this morning's news of the sudden death of Alan McDonald. Our thoughts are with his family at this time. We are deeply shocked at the death of Alan, who won over 50 caps for Northern Ireland. To die at such a young age is terrible."[8] Former Northern Ireland manager Sammy McIlroy described himself as "shellshocked" and said Norman Whiteside was "devastated."[8] QPR posted a message on which read: "Queens Park Rangers Football Club is desperately saddened to learn of the passing of former captain and assistant manager Alan McDonald."[8] In honour of his memory the club's plane for the 2012–13 pre-season tour was named "The Alan McDonald". In addition to this the club held a minute's applause for McDonald before their opening 2012–13 match against Swansea City.

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list Northern Ireland's goal tally first.[9][10][11]
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 26 March 1986 Windsor Park, Belfast  Denmark 1–0 1–1 Friendly
2. 11 September 1991 Landskrona IP, Landskrona  Faroe Islands 3–0 5–0 Euro 1992 qualifier
3. 17 February 1993 Qemal Stafa Stadium, Tirana  Albania 2–0 2–1 1994 World Cup qualifier





  1. ^ a b "Alan McDonald: Former Northern Ireland captain dies suddenly". BBC Sport. 23 June 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Former NI footballer Alan McDonald dies". UTV News. Ulster Television. 23 June 2012. Archived from the original on 18 April 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  3. ^ QPR profile Archived 15 February 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Swindon Town record
  5. ^ "McDonald interested in Glens job". BBC Sport. 3 February 2006. Retrieved 19 June 2007.
  6. ^ McKinley, Stuart (1 March 2010). "Alan McDonald leaves Glentoran". The Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  7. ^ "Alan McDonald resigns as Glentoran manager". BBC Sport. 1 March 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  8. ^ a b c "Tributes paid to McDonald". The Kerryman. Independent News & Media. 23 June 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  9. ^ "Northern Ireland v. Denmark". Irish Football Association. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  10. ^ "Faroe Islands v. Northern Ireland". Irish Football Association. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  11. ^ "Albania v. Northern Ireland". Irish Football Association. Retrieved 23 June 2012.

● Playfair football annuals 1983-84 to 1998-99

External links[edit]