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Steele began his playing career as a goalkeeper at Newcastle United in 1972, where he was part of the squad that won the Anglo-Italian Cup and won caps at England under-18 level. He then joined Peterborough United, and established himself as first-choice 'keeper, setting a record for most consecutive league appearances (124). That record would later be beaten by another Peterborough player, George Boyd (144). He does however, continue to hold the most consecutive appearances in all competitions for the Posh (148). He later joined Brighton & Hove Albion, Watford, and Derby County, winning five promotions in 12 years with those clubs.
In 1988, he retired to run a pub, before establishing Eric Steele Coaching Services, which provided goalkeeping coaching to Manchester City, Leeds United, Derby County, and Barnsley, as well as working overseas in Australia, Switzerland, Norway, Germany and the United States.
Steele was at Huddersfield Town as goalkeeping coach and left at the end of the 1997/98 season when he joined Derby County when they came calling again in 1998, and he spent four years coaching there before being appointed goalkeeping coach at Aston Villa in 2001. Steele left his post at Aston Villa in 2006.
In 2006 Eric visited Australia, where he worked with junior and senior goalkeepers in Victoria and Perth. He worked with well-known coaches and helped improve Australian goalkeepers.
Steele left his job at City on 27 June 2008 after being part of the backroom team under managers Stuart Pearce and Sven-Göran Eriksson. Mark Hughes, who had left Blackburn Rovers to take charge of Manchester City, brought with him Kevin Hitchcock, replacing Steele as goalkeeping coach. Paul Ince soon appointed him as goalkeeping coach at Blackburn Rovers. However, just weeks after joining Blackburn, Steele attracted the attention of Manchester United, who had been in search of a new goalkeeping coach since Tony Coton had been forced to retire through injury.
In July 2015, Steele was engaged by the Football Association to coach goalkeepers across their junior teams.
- Bartram, Steve (4 August 2008). "Steele named new keeper coach". ManUtd.com. Archived from the original on 16 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-04.
- "Club confirms staff departures". Manchester United F.C. 24 May 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
- "Four new interim England national coaches appointed". The Football Association. Retrieved 28 July 2015.