Corinthian-Casuals have selected former England, Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur player Andy Gray as their new manager for next season.
Gray spent the peak of his career playing in the top divisions, but began his senior career in 1983 with the Tolworth-based Casuals aged 18.
“It’s surreal to be back. This is the only kind of management job I would have considered,” Gray said in a statement to the club.
“I know what it means to play for Corinthian-Casuals and I will turn every stone for this club. I’m looking forward to getting started.”
Gray will enter the dugout next season with current interim manager Brian Adamson set to guide the Casuals for the remainder of the campaign.
The club has had a difficult season and found itself second from bottom in the Isthmian Premier Division with just six wins and 26 defeats – the most in the division.
But Gray has made his philosophy clear, stating that he wants hungry players who want to play for the club.
“I’m all about getting the ball into the danger area as soon as possible to score goals. It’s about entertaining, that’s my philosophy.
“Basically, the pitch is still the same, the goals haven’t moved and it’s still about scoring goals.”
The Lambeth-born midfielder had something of a cult career – being a legend for many clubs but relatively unheard of for most football fans. While playing for Dulwich Hamlet, he was spotted by Crystal Palace manger Steve Coppell.
Coppell brought Gray back to the south-east London side where he had spent the start of his young career.
Gray then moved to Aston Villa where he won promotion in the 1987-88 season before returning to Crystal Palace once again. Along with Palace legends Ian Wright and Mark Bright, Gray helped facilitate Palace’s golden era with a historic third-place finish and their first FA Cup final in the 1989-90 season.
30 years ago today. Liverpool fans singing, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ on the Holte End and Andy Gray silences them with a late equaliser before Palace beat Liverpool 4-3 in extra time in the FA Cup SF. The best game I’ve ever been to. Still gives me goosebumps #cpfc pic.twitter.com/gp9WAufLfQ
— @forgottengoals (@forgottengoals) April 8, 2020
Andy Gray’s iconic goal for Crystal Palace in their 4-3 FA Cup semi-final win against Liverpool.
He also earned a solitary senior England appearance in November 1991 in a crucial Euro 92 qualifier against Poland. In this match, he played alongside the likes of Stuart Pierce and Gary Lineker.
In a career that has seen him return to his former clubs multiple times, Gray has continued this tradition – this time as a manager.
“Corinthian-Casuals is a big name, a very big name,” Gray said. “So if there’s a talent looking to get into or back into the pro game, they couldn’t come anywhere better. This is a chance for them to get back on the boat.
“Our doors are open for everyone – whatever their circumstances, however they’ve fallen down. I’m a shoulder to lean on, someone to speak to and put them back on track, because I’ve been there. For me, this is where it all started and now I’m coming back. I’m happy, I’m very happy!”