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 37)
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)
2010 Derby County (loan) 4 (0)
2011 Chesterfield (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, Yeovil, Hearts, Bristol City, Derby County, Chesterfield and Kilmarnock. Johnson made his managerial debut with Oldham Athletic and has also managed Barnsley.

Playing career

Born in Newmarket, Suffolk, Johnson started his career as a youth player with Arsenal, but left the club aged 17 after falling out with one of the club's coaches.[2] He joined Watford, whose youth system was run by his father Gary. He did not make a first team appearance for the club. He went on to have a spell with Brighton, scoring in his only appearance for the club against Cardiff in the Football League Trophy,[3] before a non-contract spell with Brentford during the final months of the 2000–01 season, during which he failed to receive a call into the squad.[4] He subsequently joined Conference side Yeovil Town in July 2001.[5] 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 in a row.

Johnson joined Scottish Premier League club Hearts on 11 January 2006 for £50,000, signing a two-and-a-half-year contract.[2] His debut came in a 4–1 victory over their Edinburgh derby rivals Hibernian.[6] Less than two months after Johnson joined Hearts, the man who signed him, Graham Rix, was sacked.[7] After that Johnson had only made one substitute appearance for the club.

In August 2006, Johnson left Hearts to re-join his father, Gary, at Bristol City.[8] 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.[9] Johnson was part of the City team that won promotion to the Football League Championship in the 2006–07 season.

In the 2007–08 season Johnson enjoyed his best season for Bristol City as they pushed for promotion to the English Premier League. Johnson was a key figure in the team during their run to the play-off final, a game in which his side lost 1–0 to Hull City and missed out on promotion.

On 1 January 2010, Johnson joined fellow Championship side Derby County on an initial one month's loan. He played his first game for Derby the next day in an FA Cup game at Millwall, which ended 1–1. Johnson returned to the Bristol City squad after the month's loan at Derby County came to an end. Derby wanted to retain Johnson until the end of the 2009–10 season, but Bristol City would not agree to his extension because they wanted to be able to recall Johnson at 24 hours notice. Derby did not want a short-term loan deal, so their interest ended. Lee went on loan to Chesterfield in August 2011. Johnson ended a five and a half-year stint at Ashton Gate on 31 January 2012, having had his contract terminated after a mutual agreement.

On 10 February 2012, Johnson signed a two-and-half-year deal with Scottish side Kilmarnock.[10] On 18 March, he played in the 2012 Scottish League Cup Final which Kilmarnock won after beating Celtic 1–0, setting up the winning goal.[11] As at Bristol City, he ended his time at the club long before the end of the contract, leaving Kilmarnock in January 2013.[12]

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 to see if he was interested in playing for the national team in the Euro 2016 qualifiers. He considered the offer, but declined, as "I don't really want to be running after the world champions when we've [Oldham] got a game on Saturday."[13]

Managerial career

Oldham Athletic

Johnson was appointed manager of League One side Oldham Athletic on 18 March 2013 on a two – year contract, at the age of 31. This made him the youngest manager in the Football League and meant that he would manage in the same league as his father Gary who was the manager of Yeovil Town.[14] His first game in charge was a 3–0 victory against Hartlepool United on 19 March, which lifted Oldham out of the relegation zone.[15] He led the club to safety from relegation in the 2012–13, with notable vital wins in the run – in to the end of the season against Bury and automatic promotion chasing Yeovil Town who were then managed by his father.

2013–14 season

In the pre-season of the 2013–14 season, Johnson vowed to make changes to the squad and thus changing the way in which his team went out to play football, fan favourite Robbie Simpson headed the list of players that were released.[16] And fast, energetic players such as James Dayton and Sidney Schmeltz were amongst the players to be signed, including making Korey Smith loan into a permanent deal, with Johnson also making the player captain.[17]

Oldham started the season as the manager intended, playing fast, high tempo and expansive football, winning 4–3 away at Stevenage in a thriller of a game.[18] This theme continued throughout the season, with Oldham playing high quality football, receiving many plaudits from opposition managers and pundits alike. However, the Latics acquired the knack of being admirable losers and not getting the results they felt that they sometimes deserved.

In January, various changes were made, notably losing the services of James Tarkowksi to Brentford for an undisclosed fee.[19] But, signing players that would go on to make a large impact to Oldham's second half of the season, most notably the loan deal of Gary Harkins from St. Mirren, who would go on to a catalyst for the form shown by the Latics in the second half of the season.[20]

After various excellent performances throughout the first half of the season, and with the vast majority of the fans on his side and supporting the way his side were playing, Johnson was rewarded with a new three – year contract, extending his contract till the Summer of 2018. Johnson stated that "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".[21]

In the second half of the season, the Latics not only produced the same excellent performances that had gone unrewarded at times in the first half of the season, but they were also getting the results to match, ending the season on a 10 match unbeaten run. Finishing 15th in League One, two points off the top–half of the table, the best finish for the side since the end of the 2008–09 season under John Sheridan

After again working well despite limited finance available to him, Johnson had his side in the top ten of the division in the 2014–15 campaign which led to his name being linked with other clubs.


On 25 February 2015, Johnson was appointed as the head coach of Barnsley leaving Oldham in 9th place in League One.[22]

Bristol City

On 6 February 2016, Johnson was appointed manager of Championship club Bristol City on a three-and-a-half-year deal, after a compensation fee was agreed.[23] Under Johnson's management the Robins went on to win 7 of their final 16 games in the Championship, eventually finishing a comfortable 12 points ahead of relegation.[24] However, despite the loan signing of 26 goal striker Tammy Abraham, Bristol City still were in the relegation dogfight until the penultimate match of the next season,[25] eventually finishing 3 points above the relegation zone.[26]

"There was a lot of noise in the middle of the season, very abusive, very aggressive"

The Guardian, 10th May 2017.[27]Bristol City chairman, Steve Lansdown talking about the 2016-17 season.

However, Lee Johnson kept his job ahead of the 2017-18 season, signing right-back Eros Pisano [28] and Senegal striker Famara Diedhiou, for a Bristol City record transfer fee of £5.3 million.[29]

In September 2017, Johnson was named Championship Manager of the Month.

In October 2017, as part of an interview for the BBC Points West Programme, Johnson described how he received a death threat during the 2016-17 season after signing Bristol Rovers striker Matty Taylor. During this episode, Johnson moved house after his family's home address was put online.[30]

Johnson led City to the semi-finals of the 2017–18 EFL Cup, beating several Premier League clubs including José Mourinho's Manchester United.[31] They exited the competition after a 3–2 defeat (agg. 3–5) to Manchester City; manager Pep Guardiola praised Johnson for his side's style of play.[32]

Career statistics

Playing statistics

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

Managerial statistics

As of match played 21 September 2018
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 [33]
Barnsley 25 February 2015 6 February 2016 51 20 13 18 039.2 [23][33][34]
Bristol City 6 February 2016 Present 133 52 31 50 039.1 [23][33]
Total 287 108 76 103 037.6

Personal life

He is the son of football manager Gary Johnson and has played for him at Yeovil and Bristol City. At the time of his appointment as Oldham manager three members of his family were chief scouts at football clubs.[35] Soon after he was appointed Oldham manager, father and son managed opposing sides when Oldham played Yeovil in April 2013.[36] The match ended 1–0 to Oldham and was reported to be the first instance of this since Bill Dodgin, Sr. and Bill Dodgin, Jr. managed Bristol Rovers and Fulham respectively in the early 1970s.[36][37]



  1. ^ "Lee Johnson". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 17 April 2017. 
  2. ^ a b BBC Johnson completes Hearts switch BBC
  3. ^ "Brighton 2–0 Cardiff". BBC. 5 December 2000. Retrieved 1 January 2010. 
  4. ^ "Premier and Football League transfers". www.11v11.com. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  5. ^ "Lee Johnson | Football Stats | No Club | Age 34 | 1998-2013 | Soccer Base". www.soccerbase.com. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  6. ^ Hearts 4–1 Hibernian BBC
  7. ^ Rix sacked as Hearts head coach BBC
  8. ^ Johnson back with father at City BBC
  10. ^ "Kilmarnock sign ex-Bristol City midfielder Lee Johnson". BBC Sport. BBC. 10 February 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2012. 
  11. ^ "Celtic 0–1 Kilmarnock". BBC Sport. 18 March 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  12. ^ "Kilmarnock midfielder Lee Johnson leaves the Ayrshire club". BBC Sport. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  13. ^ "Lee Johnson: Oldham manager rejects Gibraltar playing offer". BBC Sport. BBC. 25 September 2014. Retrieved 26 September 2014. 
  14. ^ "Lee Johnson: Oldham appoint youngest Football League boss". BBC Sport. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  15. ^ "Oldham 3–0 Hartlepool". BBC Sport. 19 March 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2013. 
  16. ^ "Oldham Athletic: Robbie Simpson amongst five players released". BBC Sport. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  17. ^ "Captain Korey". Oldham Athletic A.F.C. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  18. ^ "Stevenage 3–4 Oldham Athletic". Oldham Athletic A.F.C. Archived from the original on 12 May 2014. Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  19. ^ "Oldham's James Tarkowski joins Brentford". BBC Sport. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  20. ^ "St Mirren's Gary Harkins to join Oldham on loan". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  21. ^ "Johnson extends Contract". Oldham Athletic A.F.C. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  22. ^ "Lee Johnson: Barnsley appoint Oldham manager". BBC Sport. 25 February 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  23. ^ a b c "Lee Johnson: Bristol City appoint Barnsley boss as head coach". BBC Sport. 6 February 2016. Retrieved 15 May 2016. 
  24. ^ "Sky Bet Championship League Table". www.efl.com. Retrieved 2016-07-29. 
  25. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/39676213
  26. ^ https://www.efl.com/clubs-and-competitions/sky-bet-championship/league-table/
  27. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/may/10/bristol-city-lee-johnson-steve-lansdown
  28. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/40418356
  29. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/40430369
  30. ^ "'A death threat and having to move house - it was tough'". BBC News. 13 October 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017. 
  31. ^ "Jose Mourinho: Bristol City's 'lucky win over Man Utd beautiful for football'". BBC Sport. 20 December 2017. Retrieved 14 May 2018. 
  32. ^ "Bristol City manager Lee Johnson reveals what Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola said to him". The Independent. 9 January 2018. Retrieved 14 May 2018. 
  33. ^ a b c "Managers: Lee Johnson". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 12 May 2018. 
  34. ^ "Barnsley 3–0 Bury". BBC Sport. 7 February 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016. 
  35. ^ "New manager excited by challenge". Oldham Athletic. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  36. ^ a b James, Stuart (15 April 2013). "Gary and Lee Johnson of Yeovil and Oldham face League One family ordeal". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  37. ^ Cartwright, Phil (16 April 2013). "Oldham 1–0 Yeovil". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  38. ^ "Bristol City's Lee Johnson has been named the Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month for September". EFL.com. 8 October 2017. 

External links

  • Bristol City F.C. profile
  • Lee Johnson at Soccerbase
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