Mike Walker (Welsh footballer)
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|Full name||Michael Stewart Gordon Walker|
|Date of birth||28 November 1945|
|Place of birth||Colwyn Bay, Wales|
|1973||→ Charlton Athletic (loan)||1||(0)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Michael Stewart Gordon "Mike" Walker (born 28 November 1945 in Colwyn Bay, Wales) is a Welsh former footballer and manager. After starting his career at Reading, Walker played as a goalkeeper in the Football League for five clubs, most notably Watford and Colchester United. He later managed Colchester, Norwich City, Everton and APOEL. In 2010 he was inducted into the Colchester United Football Club Hall of Fame.
Walker represented Wales at under-23 level on four occasions. His son Ian, also a goalkeeper, later played for England's senior team.
Walker started his playing career as a goalkeeper with Reading in January 1963. He joined Shrewsbury Town in June 1964 and also played for York City F.C., Watford F.C., Charlton Athletic F.C. and most notably Colchester United for whom he made 363 league appearances for. Perhaps the most memorable moment in Walker's playing career came when lower division Watford knocked Bill Shankly's Liverpool out of the FA Cup in February 1970, in what was considered to be a major cup upset and a result which convinced Shankly of the need to dismantle his aging side and begin building a new team. Walker himself played a vital part in Watford's victory by saving a penalty, something which endeared him to Everton supporters many years before he became Everton manager.
Walker was inducted into the Colchester United Hall of Fame in the 2009–10 season, in recognition for his service to the club as a player and manager. Also inducted that season was Walker's former Watford and Colchester teammate Mick Packer.
Walker had a brief spell in charge of Colchester United in 1986 but was sacked in 1987 whilst top of the league. He then took charge of the Norwich City youth team in 1987. In 1992, he was promoted to the position of manager at Carrow Road and gave Norwich their highest-ever league finish in the new FA Premier League where they finished third and qualified for the 1993/94 UEFA Cup — the first time they had qualified for European competition (Norwich had technically qualified for Europe twice in the 1980s but were unable to enter due to the ban on English clubs imposed after the Heysel Disaster). Norwich achieved a famous victory over FC Bayern Munich in the UEFA Cup Second Round before being knocked out by the eventual winners, Internazionale. Due to his notable achievements at a relatively small club such as Norwich, Walker was felt by many commentators at this time to be one of the most promising new managers in English football, and he was praised for the positive, attack-minded passing game played by his Norwich side.
Walker quit Norwich in January 1994, following a long running feud with Chairman Robert Chase (mainly centring on Chase's habit of selling off the club's key players without consulting his manager first - for example Robert Fleck to Chelsea just after Walker's appointment), to become manager of Everton, with Everton having to pay substantial compensation to Norwich to secure his services. Walker failed, however, to meet the high expectations of a bigger club. Although Walker oversaw an extraordinary last day escape from relegation with Everton securing a 3-2 home victory over Wimbledon (Everton had been 2-1 down at half time), Everton made a disastrous start to the 1994/95 season, failing to win a single league game until November. With Everton bottom of the table and having made their worst ever start to a league season, Walker was sacked having spent just ten months in charge and recording only six league wins, leaving him with the worst record of any post-war Everton manager. Walker was nicknamed the 'Silver Fox' during his time at Goodison, and one of the more positive aspects of his reign was his decision to bring the controversial Rangers striker Duncan Ferguson to Everton on loan, a gamble which ultimately paid off after Walker's departure with Joe Royle signing the Scot on a permanent basis.
After Walker's dismissal, Everton went on that season to not only successfully avoid relegation but also win the FA Cup under Royle.
Walker did not return to football until taking over again at Norwich in June 1996, by which time the Canaries had been relegated to Division One. He remained in charge for two seasons but resigned after they failed to return to the Premiership. Since leaving Norwich, Walker has had a spell managing in Cyprus for APOEL, where he resides to this day.
- As of 27 March 2012.
|Colchester United||England||10 April 1986||1 November 1987||79||35||16||28||44.30|
|Norwich City||England||1 June 1992||6 January 1994||80||36||20||24||45.00|
|Everton||England||7 January 1994||8 November 1994||35||6||11||18||17.14|
|Norwich City||England||1 August 1996||30 April 1998||98||32||26||40||32.65|
Walker is the father of Ian Walker, former England goalkeeper. He also has a son, David and a daughter, Ursula. His wife and the mother of his children, Jacqueline "Jackie" Walker, died on 3 November 1997 after a long battle against cancer.
- Football League Third Division Winner (1): 1968–69
- Colchester United Player of the Year (3): 1980, 1981, 1983
- Hugman, Barry J. (2005). The PFA Premier & Football League Players' Records 1946-2005. Queen Anne Press. p. 634. ISBN 1-85291-665-6.
- 2009/10 Committee inductees. Colchester United Football Club. 13 April 2010. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
- "Mike Walker's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
- "Tier Three (League One) Honours". Coludaybyday.co.uk.
- "Colchester United Player of the Season". Coludaybyday.co.uk.