Lee Johnson (footballer)

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Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson 27-08-2016 1.jpg
Johnson managing Bristol City in 2016
Personal information
Full name Lee David Johnson[1]
Date of birth (1981-06-07) 7 June 1981 (age 38)
Place of birth Newmarket, England
Height 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Bristol City (head coach)
Youth career
1997–1998 Arsenal
1998–2000 Watford
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2000–2001 Brighton & Hove Albion 0 (0)
2001 Brentford 0 (0)
2001–2006 Yeovil Town 192 (23)
2006 Heart of Midlothian 4 (0)
2006–2012 Bristol City 174 (11)
2010Derby County (loan) 4 (0)
2011Chesterfield (loan) 11 (0)
2012–2013 Kilmarnock 20 (0)
Total 405 (34)
National team
2003 England C 5 (1)
Teams managed
2013–2015 Oldham Athletic
2015–2016 Barnsley
2016– Bristol City
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Lee David Johnson (born 7 June 1981) is an English professional football manager and former player who is the head coach of Championship club Bristol City.

Prior to becoming a manager, he played for Brighton & Hove Albion, Yeovil Town, Heart of Midlothian, Bristol City, Derby County, Chesterfield and Kilmarnock. Johnson made his managerial debut with Oldham Athletic in 2013, as well as managing Barnsley between 2015 and 2016, deciding to leave to take charge of Bristol City.

Early life[edit]

Born in Newmarket, Suffolk, Johnson is the only child of Karen[2] and football coach Gary Johnson. He began his career as a youth player with Arsenal, but left the club aged 17 after a feud with a coach.[3] He then went on to join Watford, whose youth system was run by his father; he did not make a senior appearance for the club prior to his departure in 2000.

Playing career[edit]

In 2000, Johnson signed for Brighton & Hove Albion, scoring in his only appearance for the club against Cardiff City in the Football League Trophy,[4] before having a non-contract spell with Brentford during the final months of the 2000–01 season, in which he failed to receive a call into the squad.[5] He then went on to sign for Conference side Yeovil Town in July 2001 on a free transfer.[6] Managed by his father Gary, Yeovil achieved two promotions, reaching the Football League Second Division. In this time, Johnson won the player of the year award three times consecutively.

Johnson joined Scottish Premier League club Heart of Midlothian on 11 January 2006 for a transfer fee of £50,000, signing onto a two-and-a-half-year contract.[3] His debut came in a 4–1 victory over their Edinburgh derby rivals Hibernian.[7] Less than two months after Johnson joined Hearts, manager Graham Rix was sacked,[8] which resulted in Johnson receiving less game time: he only made one substitute appearance prior to his departure six months after signing.

In August 2006, Johnson rejoined his father at Bristol City.[9] On 12 August 2006, Huddersfield Town manager Peter Jackson was sent to the stands after grabbing Johnson around the throat in a touchline incident 10 minutes from full-time.[10] He was part of the Bristol City team that won promotion to the Championship in the 2006–07 league campaign.

In the 2007–08 season, Johnson enjoyed his favoured season for Bristol, as they pushed for promotion to the Premier League, being a key figure in their run to the play-off final, which his side lost 1–0 to Hull City, narrowly missing out on promotion.

On 1 January 2010, Johnson joined fellow Championship side Derby County on an initial month-long loan. He played his first game for Derby the following day, in an FA Cup fixture at Millwall, which ended in a 1–1 draw. Johnson returned to Bristol after this spell came to an end. Despite Derby intending to retain Johnson until the end of the season, Bristol refused. He subsequently went on loan to Chesterfield in August 2011. His stint at Bristol concluded on 31 January 2012, after his contract was mutually terminated.

On 10 February 2012, Johnson signed a two-and-half-year deal with Scottish side Kilmarnock, returning to Scotland after his departure from Hearts six years previously.[11] On 18 March, he played in the Scottish League Cup final, in which Kilmarnock were victorious over Celtic, when Johnson set up the winning goal in their 1–0 success.[12] He left Kilmarnock in January 2013, after his contract was mutually terminated.[13]

Johnson was eligible to play for the Gibraltar national football team, due to the birthplace of his grandmother. In September 2014, the Gibraltar Football Association contacted him regarding interest in playing for the national team in the Euro 2016 qualifiers. Despite considering the offer, he declined, stating, "I don't really want to be running after the world champions when we've [Oldham] got a game on Saturday."[14]

Managerial career[edit]

Oldham Athletic[edit]

On 18 March 2013, Johnson was appointed manager of League One side Oldham Athletic, signing onto a two-year contract. At the age of 31, his appointment made him the youngest manager in the Football League, with him also managing in the same league as his father, Gary, who was then the manager of Yeovil Town.[15] His first game in charge was a 3–0 victory over Hartlepool United the day after his appointment, which saw Oldham move out of the relegation zone.[16] He went on to lead the club to safety soon afterwards, with his run of form notable with vital wins against Bury and promotion-chasing Yeovil, which was also highlighted as it was reported to be the first instance of father and son managing against each other since Bill Dodgin, Sr. of Bristol Rovers and Bill Dodgin, Jr. of Fulham faced each other in the early 1970s.[17][17][18]

During the off-season prior to his first full season in charge, Johnson vowed to make changes to the squad, thus resulting in a change of play, which resulted in fan favourite Robbie Simpson controversially being on the list of players that were released by the club.[19] However, Johnson hit back, completing the signings of James Dayton, Sidney Schmeltz and Korey Smith, the latter chose to make his initial loan into a permanent deal, with Johnson also appointing the player as the new team captain.[20] Oldham started the season as Johnson intended, winning 4–3 at Stevenage.[21] Such form continued throughout the season, with Oldham playing high quality football, receiving plaudits from opposition managers and pundits alike.[citation needed] In January, various changes were made, notably losing the services of James Tarkowksi to Brentford for an undisclosed fee.[22] Johnson made signings that would go on to make a big impact to Oldham's second half of the season, most notably the loan of Gary Harkins from St. Mirren.[23] After various excellent performances throughout the first half of the season, Johnson was rewarded with a new three–year contract, extending his contract until the summer of 2018, stating, "I love the club, the new contract extension makes me feel valued by the owner and the board. I know I will get it right and that I will be given time to do that, at what is a fantastic club".[24] As their season came to a close, the Latics ended the season on a 10-game unbeaten run, which saw the club finish fifteenth, two points short of the top–half of the table, making this the club's best finish for the side since the end of the 2008–09 season under John Sheridan.[citation needed]

During the first half of the 2014–15 league campaign, Johnson led his side to be in the top ten of the league, which soon saw his name emerge with links to a variety of clubs.[citation needed]


On 25 February 2015, Johnson was appointed as the new head coach of fellow League One club Barnsley, after an undisclosed compensation package was agreed between the Tykes and Oldham Athletic for the services of Johnson and his assistant Tommy Wright.[25] His first match in charge was a 1–0 victory at Gillingham, which occurred three days following his appointment.[26] Despite taking over the club whilst they sat sixteenth and were underachieving,[25] Johnson guided to the club to an eleventh-placed finish, after their form resulted in them picking up five victories, six draws and three sorrow defeats.[27]

During his first full season in charge, Johnson had Barnsley in a mixed form prior to the new year period, picking up ten victories out of a possible thirty, as well as picking up an eight-game losing streak.[28] However, 2016 saw Barnsley hold up a seven-game winning streak, which suddenly moved the side higher up the league positions.[29] Johnson's name suddenly emerged as many club's targets to fulfil their managerial posts, and by the time he left Barnsley, the club were sat twelfth, a huge improvement from them sitting twenty-second in the table in November.[30] He had also led the club to the Football League Trophy final,[31] in which his successor Paul Heckingbottom managed to claim the cup win.[32] He left Barnsley on 6 February 2016.[30]

Bristol City[edit]

On 6 February 2016, Johnson was appointed as the new manager of relegation-threatened Championship club Bristol City, signing onto a three-and-a-half-year deal, after an undisclosed compensation fee was agreed between the Robins and Barnsley.[30] Under Johnson's management, City went on to record several victories during their sixteen games in the league, eventually finishing a comfortable twelve points above the relegation zone in eighteenth place.[33] Despite the loan signing of Tammy Abraham, who scored 26 goals for the club in the 2016–17 season, City remained in the relegation dogfight until the penultimate game of the season,[34] eventually finishing three points above the relegation zone in seventeenth place, a minor improvement of their previous season's finish.[35]

Despite fans demanding for Johnson to be dismissed, he remained as City manager ahead of the 2017–18 season, and brought in right-back Eros Pisano[36] and Senegalese striker Famara Diedhiou to boost their hopes of success, the latter signing for a club record transfer fee of £5.3 million.[37] In October 2017, Johnson received manager of the month award for September, after guiding City to an undefeated streak of six games, scoring thirteen goals across that month.[38] Later that month, as part of an interview for the BBC Points West programme, Johnson described his past of receiving death threats across the previous season, after completing the signing of Bristol Rovers striker Matty Taylor, also revealing how he was forced to move home, following the aftermath of his family's home address being publicised online.[39] In the 2017–18 season, Johnson led the club to the semi-finals of the EFL Cup, defeating several Premier League clubs in the lead up, notably defeating José Mourinho's Manchester United.[40] During the semi-finals, Bristol City exited the competition after a 3–5 aggregate defeat to eventual champions Manchester City, a game in which saw opposition manager Pep Guardiola praise Johnson for his side's style of play.[41] City ended the season in eleventh place in the Championship, eight points adrift from play-off qualification.[42] In their following league campaign, Johnson's side finished the season in eighth place, their best league finish since the 2007–08 season, despite maintaining fifth position towards the closing stages of the season.[43]

On 23 May 2019, Johnson signed onto a new four-year contract with Bristol City, keeping him at the club until the summer of 2023.[44] That October, he was charged with misconduct by the FA as a response to alleged language towards a match official.[45] He received a £2,000 fine and a one-match ban.[46]

Personal life[edit]

At the time of his appointment as Oldham Athletic manager in 2013, three members of his family were chief scouts at different football clubs.[47] Johnson is married to Nicola Johnson and they have a daughter together.[48]

Career statistics[edit]

As a player[edit]

Club statistics
Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Brighton & Hove Albion 2000–01 Third Division 0 0 0 0 0 0 1[a] 1 1 1
Brentford 2000–01 Second Division 0 0 0 0 0 0
Yeovil Town 2001–02 Conference 36 5 0 0 10[b] 0 46 5
2002–03 Conference 41 4 2 0 5[c] 0 48 4
2003–04 Third Division 45 5 3 0 1 0 2[a] 0 51 5
2004–05 League Two 44 7 5 1 2 3 1[a] 0 52 11
2005–06 League One 26 3 3 1 2 0 1[a] 0 32 3
Total 192 23 13 2 5 3 19 0 229 28
Heart of Midlothian 2005–06 SPL 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 5 0
Bristol City 2006–07 League One 42 5 6 0 1 0 5[a] 0 54 5
2007–08 Championship 40 1 1 0 1 0 3[d] 0 45 1
2008–09 Championship 44 3 2 0 2 0 48 3
2009–10 Championship 28 1 0 0 2 0 30 1
2010–11 Championship 20 1 1 0 1 0 22 1
Total 174 11 10 0 5 0 8 0 197 11
Derby County (loan) 2009–10 Championship 4 0 0 0 0 0 4 0
Chesterfield (loan) 2011–12 League One 11 0 0 0 0 0 2[a] 0 13 0
Kilmarnock 2011–12 SPL 9 0 0 0 1 0 10 0
2012–13 SPL 11 0 1 0 1 0 13 0
Total 20 0 1 0 2 0 23 0
Career total 405 34 25 0 12 0 30 1 472 35
  1. ^ a b c d e f Appearances in Football League Trophy
  2. ^ Seven appearances in FA Trophy, two appearances in Football League Trophy, one appearance in Somerset Premier Cup
  3. ^ Four appearances in FA Trophy, one appearance in Football League Trophy
  4. ^ Appearances in Football League Championship play-offs

As a manager[edit]

As of match played 18 January 2020
Managerial record by team and tenure
Team From To Record Ref.
P W D L Win %
Oldham Athletic 18 March 2013 25 February 2015 103 36 32 35 035.0 [49]
Barnsley 25 February 2015 6 February 2016 51 20 13 18 039.2 [30][49][50]
Bristol City 6 February 2016 Present 204 81 52 71 039.7 [30][49]
Total 358 137 97 124 038.3


As a player[edit]

Yeovil Town

Heart of Midlothian

Bristol City


As a manager[edit]



  1. ^ "Lee Johnson". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  2. ^ "The Johnson Cup: Gary v Lee 'bigger than the Johnstone's Paint Trophy'". BBC Sport. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  3. ^ a b BBC Johnson completes Hearts switch BBC
  4. ^ "Brighton 2–0 Cardiff". BBC. 5 December 2000. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
  5. ^ "Premier and Football League transfers". 11v11.com. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  6. ^ "Lee Johnson | Football Stats | No Club | Age 34 | 1998–2013 | Soccer Base". www.soccerbase.com. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  7. ^ Hearts 4–1 Hibernian BBC
  8. ^ Rix sacked as Hearts head coach 22 March 2006, BBC Sport
  9. ^ Johnson back with father at City 9 August 2006, BBC Sport
  11. ^ "Kilmarnock sign ex-Bristol City midfielder Lee Johnson". BBC Sport. 10 February 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  12. ^ "Celtic 0–1 Kilmarnock". BBC Sport. 18 March 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
  13. ^ "Kilmarnock midfielder Lee Johnson leaves the Ayrshire club". BBC Sport. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  14. ^ "Lee Johnson: Oldham manager rejects Gibraltar playing offer". BBC Sport. 25 September 2014. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  15. ^ "Lee Johnson: Oldham appoint youngest Football League boss". BBC Sport. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  16. ^ "Oldham 3–0 Hartlepool". BBC Sport. 19 March 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  17. ^ a b James, Stuart (15 April 2013). "Gary and Lee Johnson of Yeovil and Oldham face League One family ordeal". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  18. ^ Cartwright, Phil (16 April 2013). "Oldham 1–0 Yeovil". BBC Sport. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  19. ^ "Oldham Athletic: Robbie Simpson amongst five players released". BBC Sport. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
  20. ^ "Captain Korey". Oldham Athletic A.F.C. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  21. ^ "Stevenage 3–4 Oldham Athletic". Oldham Athletic A.F.C. Archived from the original on 12 May 2014. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  22. ^ "Oldham's James Tarkowski joins Brentford". BBC Sport. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  23. ^ "St Mirren's Gary Harkins to join Oldham on loan". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  24. ^ "Johnson extends Contract". Oldham Athletic A.F.C. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  25. ^ a b "Lee Johnson: Barnsley appoint Oldham manager". BBC Sport. 25 February 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  26. ^ "Gillingham 0–1 Barnsley". BBC Sport. 28 February 2019. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  27. ^ "Barnsley 5–0 Rochdale". BBC Sport. 3 May 2015. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  28. ^ "Barnsley 1–2 Port Vale: Match Report & Highlights". Sky Sports News. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  29. ^ "Barnsley 3–0 Bury". BBC Sport. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  30. ^ a b c d e "Lee Johnson: Bristol City appoint Barnsley boss as head coach". BBC Sport. 6 February 2016. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  31. ^ "Fleetwood Town 1–1 Barnsley". BBC Sport. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  32. ^ "Barnsley vs. Oxford United". ESPN. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  33. ^ "Sky Bet Championship League Table". efl.com. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  34. ^ "Brighton & Hove Albion 0–1 Bristol City". BBC Sport. 29 April 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  35. ^ "EFL Official Website – Sky Bet Championship Table". Efl.com. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  36. ^ "Eros Pisano: Bristol City sign Hellas Verona defender". BBC Sport. 27 June 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  37. ^ "Famara Diedhiou: Bristol City sign Senegal striker in club-record £5.3m deal". BBC Sport. 28 June 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  38. ^ a b "Bristol City's Lee Johnson has been named the Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month for September". EFL.com. 8 October 2017.
  39. ^ "A death threat and having to move house – it was tough". BBC News. 13 October 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  40. ^ "Jose Mourinho: Bristol City's 'lucky win over Man Utd beautiful for football'". BBC Sport. 20 December 2017. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  41. ^ "Bristol City manager Lee Johnson reveals what Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola said to him". The Independent. 9 January 2018. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  42. ^ "Sky Bet Championship Table". English Football League Official Website. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  43. ^ "Championship 2018–19 Table". Sports Mole. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  44. ^ "Lee Johnson: Bristol City boss signs new four-year deal". BBC Sport. 23 May 2019. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  45. ^ "Bristol City: Lee Johnson to face FA charge for alleged language to a match official". 24 October 2019 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  46. ^ "Lee Johnson: Bristol City boss given £2,000 fine and one-match touchline ban". 30 October 2019 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  47. ^ "New manager excited by challenge". Oldham Athletic A.F.C. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  48. ^ "Why Bristol City's Lee Johnson hopes he won't be left holding the baby". Daily Mail. 21 May 2008. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  49. ^ a b c "Managers: Lee Johnson". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
  50. ^ "Barnsley 3–0 Bury". BBC Sport. 7 February 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  51. ^ "Lee Johnson named Sky Bet League 1 Manager of the Month". The Football League. Retrieved 28 February 2016.

External links[edit]