Big Sam’s career in pictures

24 Jul

Sam Allardyce is the new England manager.


Affectionately known as Big Sam, the 61-year-old has beaten off competition from Hull boss Steve Bruce.

England fans won’t need reminding of their team’s abysmal showing under Roy Hodgson at the Euros. He resigned just minutes after the final whistle blew on a 2-1 defeat to Iceland, remember?

As Sam Allardyce looks to take the team forward, Newsbeat looks back at his career, in pictures.

He started playing in the youth squad for his home town Dudley in the late 1960s.

He got his first professional contract at Bolton Wanderers, where, at 6ft 3in (1m 91cm), he quickly developed a reputation as a powerful centre-back, strong in the air and not shy of a tackle.

Sam Allardyce leaping for a header

On the pitch, he was nicknamed “Super Sam Bionic Man”, because of his ability to absolutely clatter his opponents and get back up completely unharmed.

But he also had a lighter side and, apparently, was a big fan of westerns. Here he is dressed as, we’re guessing, Clint Eastwood.

Sam Allardyce dressed as Clint Eastwood

Not content with being a bionic cowboy, he was a family man too.

He met his wife Lynne while still a youth player at Bolton and they got married in 1974.

They have two kids, who presumably are too big now for this sort of thing.

Sam Allardyce with his young kids on his back

After seven years at Bolton, he had spells at Sunderland, Millwall, and even in America, with the fantastically named Tampa Bay Rowdies.

He joined Coventry City in 1983 and was made captain. He clearly took his duties seriously, even when it came to leading his squad in a ballet session.

Sam Allardyce leading the squad in a ballet session

We’re finally into the days of colour photography and Big Sam’s playing career is still going strong.

Through the 1980s, he featured for Huddersfield, West Brom and Limerick before finishing his days on the pitch at Preston North End.

Sam on the pitch

After spells at Limerick and Blackpool, Allardyce’s first big managerial success was with Notts County in the 1997-8 season.

He guided them to the division three title by a 19-point margin and, of course, celebrated with a cigar.

Sam smoking a cigar next to the trophy for winning Division Three

At the turn of the century, he took Bolton to the League Cup and FA Cup semi-finals – and as a reward was offered a 10-year contract with the club, which he took.

He set up wagers with his players and after his side beat Leicester 5-0 on the opening day of the 2001 FA Carling Premiership season, Big Sam and his staff were reportedly forced to eat sheep testicles. Nice.

Sam celebrating with a Bolton flag

He had the balls to stick with Bolton, though, and achieved his best ever Premier League finish of sixth in the 2004-05 season.

That won Wanderers a place in Europe – in what was then called the Uefa Cup.

Sam in the dugout

After leaving Bolton in 2007, Big Sam spent time at Newcastle and Blackburn, before taking on the West Ham job in 2011.

Sam with bubbles all around him

He joined Sunderland last year.

As for his managerial style, throughout his career he’s been accused by some of encouraging boring, long-ball football – something that he denies.

He’s clearly not the biggest fan of diving though and laughed his head off at Swansea City’s Chico Flores when he took a tumble in 2014.

Watch the Vine.

We’ll have to wait until September to find out exactly what he’ll offer. His first match in charge is a World Cup qualifier against Slovakia.

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