Iffy Onuora

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Iffy Onuora
Personal information
Full name Ifem Onuora
Date of birth (1967-07-28) 28 July 1967 (age 56)
Place of birth Glasgow, Scotland
Position(s) Striker
Team information
Current team
England U21 (coach)
Youth career
1988–1989 Bradford University F.C.
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1989–1994 Huddersfield Town 165 (30)
1994–1996 Mansfield Town 28 (8)
1996–1998 Gillingham 62 (23)
1998–2000 Swindon Town 74 (25)
2000Gillingham (loan) 1 (0)
2000–2002 Gillingham 85 (26)
2002–2004 Sheffield United 7 (1)
2003Wycombe Wanderers (loan) 6 (0)
2003Grimsby Town (loan) 8 (1)
2003–2004 Grimsby Town 11 (2)
2004 Tranmere Rovers 3 (0)
2004 Huddersfield Town 3 (1)
2004 Walsall 0 (0)
Total 453 (117)
Managerial career
2005–2006 Swindon Town
2007 Gillingham (caretaker)
2008 Lincoln City (caretaker)
2010–2011 Ethiopia
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Ifem "Iffy" Onuora (born 28 July 1967) is a Scottish former professional footballer, manager, and coach for the England U21 national team. He is also the current equalities coach for the Professional Footballers Association.

As a player, he was a forward from 1988 until 2004. He notably had spells with Huddersfield Town, Swindon Town and Gillingham and spent his entire career playing in England. He also played in the Football League for Mansfield Town, Sheffield United, Wycombe Wanderers, Grimsby Town, Tranmere Rovers and Walsall. Having moved into coaching with the latter, he moved back to former clubs Swindon and Gillingham before briefly taking over as caretaker manager of Lincoln City before his move to Ethiopia. He now acts as a Match Delegate for referees in the Premier League.[1] Between 2010 and 2011 Onuora coached the Ethiopian national football team.[2]

Playing career[edit]

Onuora was a journeyman striker who got his professional break playing for Huddersfield Town. He went on to play just under 200 times for The Terriers and scored over 30 goals for the club before he was transferred to Mansfield Town in 1994.

Onoura stayed with The Stags until Gillingham paid £25,000 for him in August 1996. It was at Priestfield Stadium where Onuora's goal scoring ability started to show, as he notched himself a tally of just under 30 goals in an 18-month stay with the club, before the Gills cashed in on their big front man by selling him to Swindon Town in March 1998. More goal scoring success was on the cards and he remained at the club until he secured a move back to Gillingham in January 2000, following a short loan spell.

Onuora went on to feature heavily for The Gills for the next two seasons before Neil Warnock tempted the player into moving to Bramall Lane to sign a two-year deal with Sheffield United, reuniting Onuora with his former Gillingham strike partner Carl Asaba. However football for Onoura was rare with the club and after starting the season alongside Asaba, he only made 8 appearances in both league and cup competitions, scoring one goal against Burnley.[3] But after a season-ending Achilles injury, he never played for United again.[4] In August 2003, it was announced that he would be carrying on with The Blades, but was loan listed where he signed for Wycombe Wanderers at the start of the season on a one-month loan deal.

After appearing six times for The Chairboys, Onuora returned to Sheffield, only to be poached by Paul Groves to sign for Grimsby Town also on a one-month loan. After a reasonable month with Grimsby, Onuora made his move to Blundell Park a permanent one, with the club pairing him up front with Michael Boulding in the absence of the injured Phil Jevons.

This seemed to work as a jinx for Onuora, as despite earning himself a permanent deal, his performances slipped and he was singled out by the club's supporters for booing, something which the player later spoke publicly about to the Grimsby Telegraph. Following the club's huge dip in form, Paul Groves was dismissed from his managerial duties and Onuora was to be the first player shown the door, after only signing a permanent deal four months previously.

He made his next port of call Tranmere Rovers but after three league appearances, the club decided to release him a month later. On 25 March 2004, Onuora signed professional terms once again for Huddersfield Town, who were his first career club. He played five times for The Terriers, scoring an important goal in the play-off semi final against Lincoln City[5] but didn't make an appearance in the final at the Millennium Stadium. In July 2004, Paul Merson hired Onoura as a player/coach for Walsall, but this was short lived, and he was released in October 2004 and subsequently retired from playing. He scored 133 goals in nearly 500 professional matches.

Managerial and coaching career[edit]

Upon retiring in 2004, Onuora moved into coaching. In July 2007 he successfully completed the final part of the UEFA Pro Licence course and joined a group of only 111 coaches holding the game's top qualification.[6][7]

His coaching career began when he was appointed first-team coach at Walsall in July 2004 but his contract was terminated by Walsall's manager Paul Merson in October 2004, with Merson feeling a more experienced coach was required.[8]

Later in the 2004–05 season, Onuora became a coach and youth development officer at Swindon Town. When Andy King was sacked after a poor start to the 2005–06 season, Onuora was appointed as Swindon's caretaker manager. In December 2005, Ron Atkinson, who had previously been fired from TV jobs for making racist remarks, was reportedly appointed to work alongside Onuora – one of the league's few black managers. Onuora later denied that this was the case, claiming that Atkinson was at the club to film a fly-on-the-wall documentary called Big Ron Manager.

Dennis Wise later became the new Swindon manager and Onoura was offered the chance to stay in a reduced capacity but he turned down that offer and left the club.[9] He later commentated on Gillingham matches on BBC Radio Kent.

He returned to Gillingham in June 2007 as a first team coach.[10] When manager Ronnie Jepson resigned in September 2007 he was named, initially alongside Mick Docherty, as joint caretaker manager.[11] He held the position until the appointment of Mark Stimson on 1 November 2007 and briefly remained as a first team coach under the new regime before departing approximately two weeks later.[12][13] In February 2008 he was appointed assistant to Peter Jackson at Lincoln City.[14]

As of 1 March 2008, he became Lincoln's acting manager,[15] whilst Peter Jackson underwent treatment for throat cancer. He was assisted in this role by Grant Brown. Under Onuora's tenure, Lincoln won five and lost six of their remaining fixtures. On 2 September 2009 both Peter Jackson and Iffy Onuora were sacked from their posts at Lincoln after the board were disappointed with the club's poor start to the season[16]

On 30 June 2010, he signed a one-year deal to coach the Ethiopia national team.[17] Under the contract received a monthly salary of $13,000, free accommodation, a car, two free air tickets and phone service. His salary and other expenses were covered by MIDROC Ethiopia, a company owned by Ethiopian-born billionaire Sheikh Mohammed Al Amoudi.[18]

Onuora was sacked by Ethiopia in April 2011.[19] The Ethiopian Football Federation cited disciplinary grounds for his dismissal just a month after the team's 4–0 defeat at the hands of Nigeria in a 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualification match in Abuja.[20] The Ethiopian national team had played 11 matches during his tenure, winning four, drawing in one and losing six matches.[21]

An account of Onoura's time with Ethiopia, There's some cows on the pitch, they think it's all over...it is now!, was published in 2012 by JMD Media.[22]

In 2012, he began working as an equalities officer and regional coach for the Professional Footballers Association.[23]

In March 2018 he joined the coaching setup of the England U21 national team.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Born in Glasgow to Nigerian parents, Onuora grew up on Merseyside and attended Sacred Heart Catholic College in Crosby which his cousin Victor Anichebe later attended.[25] He was first spotted playing football on Merseyside and briefly played for Everton's youth team during the mid-eighties.

Onuora is a known supporter of Everton.[26] He is the brother of the Olympic Bronze medallist sprinter Anyika Onuora and the academic Emy Onuora, the author of Pitch Black, a 2015 book on black British footballers.[27][28] He has a degree in economics from the University of Bradford.[29]

As of 2000, Onuora was married to Helen and had two daughters, Roxanne and Elisha.[30]

Managerial statistics[edit]

As of 18 April 2011.
Team Nat From To Record[31]
G W L D Win %[32]
Swindon Town England 26 September 2005 2 May 2006 40 9 15 16 22.5
Gillingham (with Mick Docherty) England 9 September 2007 8 October 2007 5 2 1 2 40
Gillingham England 9 September 2007 8 October 2007 4 2 2 0 50
Lincoln City (with Grant Brown, in Peter Jackson's absence) England 1 March 2008 6 May 2008 11 5 6 0 45.45
Ethiopia Ethiopia 30 June 2010 18 April 2011 11 4 6 1 36.36


  1. ^ "Onoura Delegate at Man City v WBA". Premier League. Archived from the original on 4 April 2012. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
  2. ^ "Interview with Iffy Onuora". footballvsoblivion.com. Archived from the original on 22 November 2021. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  3. ^ "Burnley 0–1 Sheff Utd". BBC. 3 March 2008. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  4. ^ "Former Blade Onuora Back in the Spotlight". Sheffield Star. 3 March 2008. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  5. ^ "Lincoln 1–2 Huddersfield". BBC. 15 May 2004. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  6. ^ TheFA.com – The Class of 2007
  7. ^ "Onuora on his way". TheFA.com. 10 July 2007. Retrieved 12 February 2008.
  8. ^ "Walsall sack Onuora". BBC Sport. 6 October 2004. Retrieved 12 February 2008.
  9. ^ BBC Sport
  10. ^ BBC Sport
  11. ^ "Gills coaches in caretaker charge". BBC Sport. 10 September 2007. Retrieved 10 September 2007.
  12. ^ "Stimson unveiled as new Gills boss". Retrieved 1 November 2007.
  13. ^ Luke Cawdell. "Coach Onuora leaves Gillingham post". Retrieved 19 November 2007.
  14. ^ City's New Assistant Manager – Iffy Onuora Archived 23 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "The Managers". The Official Lincoln City FC Archive. Archived from the original on 15 February 2012. Retrieved 29 April 2008.
  16. ^ "Jackson sacked as Lincoln manager". BBC News. 2 September 2009. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
  17. ^ "Iffy Onoura chosen to coach Ethiopia". BBC Sport. 3 July 2010. Retrieved 4 July 2010.
  18. ^ "Ifem "Iffy" Onuora signs 1-year deal to coach Ethiopian National Football Team". Ethio Sports. 30 June 2010. Retrieved 2 July 2010.
  19. ^ "Ethiopia sack Onuora over cows comments". Four Four Two. 18 April 2011.
  20. ^ "Soccer-Ethiopia sack British coach Onuora after cows comment". Reuters. 18 April 2011. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  21. ^ Berhanu, Markos (17 April 2011). "Ethiopian Football: EFF sacks Coach Iffy Onuora". Ethiosports. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  22. ^ "There's some cows on the pitch, they think it's all over...it is now! An extraordinary account of a year inside African football". JMD Media Ltd. Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  23. ^ "Meet the Team".
  24. ^ "Aidy Boothroyd being assisted by Iffy Onuora for England U21 double-header".
  25. ^ "KALU EXPOSES ETHIOPIA'S IFFY ONUORA". All Nigeria Sports. Archived from the original on 8 March 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  26. ^ Morshead, Sam (17 January 2014). "Onuora reflects on life at Swindon and Gillingham". Swindon Advertiser. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
  27. ^ "Anyika Onuora – Team GB – London 2012 Olympics". telegraph.co.uk. Archived from the original on 13 June 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  28. ^ "Emy Onuora | Biteback Publishing". www.bitebackpublishing.com. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  29. ^ "Onuora dreaming of final glory". www.yorkshirepost.co.uk. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  30. ^ "20 Questions: Iffy Onuora", Gillingham v Crewe Alexandra Matchday Programme: 21, 28 October 2000
  31. ^ Includes all Premier League, Football League, FA Cup, League Cup and Football League Trophy games.
  32. ^ Winning percentage is correct to two decimal places.

External links[edit]