Jimmy Willis

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Jimmy Willis
Personal information
Full name James Anthony Willis[1]
Date of birth (1968-07-12) 12 July 1968 (age 48)
Place of birth Liverpool, England
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Playing position Defender
Youth career
1985–1986 Blackburn Rovers
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1986–1987 Halifax Town 0 (0)
1987–1988 Stockport County 10 (0)
1988–1991 Darlington 90 (6)
1991–1997 Leicester City 60 (3)
1992 Bradford City (loan) 9 (1)
Teams managed
2001–2002 Bamber Bridge
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

James Anthony "Jimmy" Willis (born 12 July 1968) is an English former professional footballer, and manager who played as a defender from 1986 to 1997.

He notably played in the Premier League for Leicester City, and in the Football League for Halifax Town, Stockport County, Darlington and Bradford City. During his career he scored goals in all of the top five divisions of the English football league system. This was a record that Willis held until it was equalled in 2004, by then Liverpool defender Steve Finnan. From 2001 to 2002 he was manager of Bamber Bridge.

Playing career[edit]

Born in Liverpool, Willis served his apprenticeship at Blackburn Rovers, before he signed for Halifax Town in 1986. His impact at both Halifax and subsequent club Stockport County was limited, although he came into his own at Darlington where he won medals for both the Conference and Football League Fourth Division triumphs despite suffering from a broken leg in 1991.[2] Willis' form at Feethams netted him a £250,000 move to Leicester City in late 1991, although he initially struggled at the higher level and was even loaned out to Bradford City. Eventually, however, Willis adapted to the higher standard of football and was the man of the match in the play-off final of 1994 when Leicester secured promotion.[3] In 1996, Willis was set to join Burnley but the deal collapsed at the last minute because of contractual problems.[4] However, a year later, Willis was forced to retire from the game because of injury.[3]

Willis briefly came into the media spotlight again in 2007 when it was reported on Sky Sports that Steve Finnan was the only player to score in the top five divisions of English football. However, as reported in the Liverpool Echo, Willis had scored for Darlington in both the Conference and the Fourth Division, for Bradford in the Third Division and for Leicester in the First Division (second tier of football) and the Premier League.[3]

Managerial career[edit]

Willis dreams of breaking into football management,[3] and briefly had a spell in charge of Bamber Bridge of the Northern Premier League. He was appointed manager in November 2001, taking over from Tony Greenwood, but only lasted two months until he left because of the financial problems at the club.[5][6]

Personal life[edit]

Willis now works as a taxicab driver in his native Liverpool.[7]



  1. ^ B.J. Hugman, The 1996-97 Official PFA Footballers Fact File, Harpenden: Queen Anne Press, 1996, p. 224
  2. ^ "Can we afford to lose 120 years of history?". The Northern Echo. 2004-01-30. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Goal king Jimmy Willis in a league of his own!". Liverpool Echo. 2007-11-08. Retrieved 2008-05-07. 
  4. ^ "Big guns for sale". Lancashire Evening Telegraph. 1996-03-26. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  5. ^ Slater, Gary (2002-01-28). "UniBond League: Point of no return for Bridge". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  6. ^ "Avenue hope to stretch glory run". Telegraph & Argus. 2002-01-23. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  7. ^ Where Are They Now?

External links[edit]