Tony Coton

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Tony Coton
Personal information
Full name Anthony Philip Coton[1]
Date of birth (1961-05-19) 19 May 1961 (age 54)
Place of birth Tamworth, England
Height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Playing position Goalkeeper
Youth career
Mile Oak Rovers
1977–1978 Birmingham City
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1978–1984 Birmingham City 94 (0)
1979 Hereford United (loan) 0 (0)
1984–1990 Watford 233
1990–1996 Manchester City 164
1996 Manchester United 0 (0)
1996–1997 Sunderland 10 (0)
Total 501 (0)
National team
1992 England B 1 (0)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Anthony Philip "Tony" Coton (born 19 May 1961) is an English former footballer who played as a goalkeeper from 1978 to 1996.

Born in Tamworth, he made 500 appearances in the Football League and Premier League playing as a goalkeeper for Birmingham City, Watford, Manchester City and Sunderland.[2] He was renowned for his excellent reflexes and shot-stopping abilities. After a short spell as a football agent, Coton became chief scout at Wigan Athletic. He also worked as a scout for Bolton Wanderers before becoming Aston Villa's head of goalkeeper recruitment in 2015. He is regarded as one of the best in his field of expertise.

Playing career[edit]

Birmingham City[edit]

Coton started his professional career at Birmingham City in 1978, having signed from Mile Oak Rovers the previous year. He made his Football League debut as a 19-year-old, on 27 December 1980 in the First Division match against Sunderland. His first touch of the ball was to save a penalty awarded after 54 seconds.[3] By the 1982–83 season he had established himself as Birmingham's first choice goalkeeper.[4]


Birmingham were relegated from the First Division at the end of the next season, but Coton found his way back into the top flight with a transfer to Watford, for a sum of £300,000.[5] He soon replaced Steve Sherwood in Watford's goal and at the end of his second full season at Vicarage Road he won the Hornets' Player of the Season and Display of the Season awards, the latter for a clean sheet against Liverpool. He remained with the club even after their relegation from the First Division in 1988. He went on to become Watford Player of the Season for an unprecedented third time in 1989–90.[6] Coton later became the second player to be inducted into Watford's Hall of Fame, behind club legend Luther Blissett.

Manchester City[edit]

Before the start of the 1990–91 season, Coton was bought for just under £1,000,000 by Manchester City manager Howard Kendall. At the time, he was one of the most expensive goalkeepers to be signed by any British club.He went on to win the City Player of the Year award in both the 1991–92 and 1993–94 seasons. He also won an England B cap during his time at City. They finished fifth in the First Division during his first two seasons at Maine Road and ninth in the first season of the Premier League. However, they dipped to 16th in 1993–94 and 17th in 1994–95, although he remained first-choice goalkeeper under subsequent managers Peter Reid and Brian Horton.

Manchester United[edit]

Coton's time at Manchester City was cut short by injury in 1995, and the signing of Eike Immel. In January 1996, he moved across the city to Manchester United for £500,000, a record fee for a transfer between United and City, to be understudy to Peter Schmeichel.[7] He never played a first team game for United, made the substitutes' bench only once, and moved on to Sunderland after just six months, for a fee of £600,000.[8]


He made a few impressive performances for his new club (who had just been promoted to the Premier League as Division One champions) before breaking his leg in five places during a league match against Southampton. The injury marked the end of his playing career,[9]

Coaching career[edit]

From 1997 to 2007, Coton was goalkeeping coach at Manchester United, establishing himself as one of the best coaches in his field. He was forced to step down from the position in December 2007 due to a knee injury that stopped him participating in training sessions. He had had two operations in four months to correct his ongoing knee problems, but after discussions with his surgeon and the Manchester United medical staff, they agreed that retirement was the best option. Coton remained at Manchester United until the end of his contract in June 2008, but with reduced coaching responsibilities.[10]

Football agent[edit]

He went on to become a player's agent.[11][12]


  1. ^ Matthews, Tony (1995). Birmingham City: A Complete Record. Derby: Breedon Books. p. 79. ISBN 978-1-85983-010-9. 
  2. ^ "Tony Coton". UK A–Z Transfers. Neil Brown. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  3. ^ Bulman, Andy. "Tony Coton". Birmingham City F.C. Retrieved 24 November 2008. 
  4. ^ Matthews, Tony (1995). Birmingham City: A Complete Record. Derby: Breedon Books. p. 218. ISBN 978-1-85983-010-9. 
  5. ^ "Watford in move to sign Coton". The Times. 25 September 1984. p. 30. 
  6. ^ "Player of the Season". Watford F.C. 16 October 2009. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  7. ^ White, John D. T. (29 May 2008). "January". The Official Manchester United Almanac (1st ed.). London: Orion Books. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-7528-9192-7. 
  8. ^ "On This Day (C)". Sunderland A.F.C. Archived from the original on 2 August 2010. 
  9. ^ "Past Players (C)". Sunderland A.F.C. Archived from the original on 4 November 2006. 
  10. ^ Bartram, Steve (11 January 2008). "Coton forced to retire". Retrieved 11 January 2008. 
  11. ^ Mathieson, Stuart (15 January 2008). "Coton keeps up tradition". Manchester Evening News (MEN Media). Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  12. ^ Shail, Mark (12 October 2009). "It was never going to be easy for Ben Foster". GiveMeFootball. Professional Footballers' Association. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 

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