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Hill, Jimmy (1928- )


Main image of Hill, Jimmy (1928- )

The chin might be his most recognisable feature, but it is Jimmy Hill's forthright, almost hectoring manner that has made him one of the most memorable football pundits to grace our television screens. You could argue, and he probably would, that with his distinguished career and breadth of knowledge of all things football he has a right to tell it the way it is; he has been a player, coach, managing director, chairman, union chairman and TV presenter, and successful at all of them.

James William Thomas Hill started his football career as an amateur with Reading FC before becoming a professional with Brentford FC in 1949. He moved to Fulham FC in 1952 and stayed there until an injury ended his playing career in 1961. While at Fulham, he became Chairman of the PFA and many players owe him a great debt of gratitude, as he was instrumental in the abolition of the £20 minimum wage in 1961. As a footballer with opinions and ideas coupled with boundless energy and enthusiasm he seemed a natural for management and in 1961 he took over as manager of Coventry City FC, overseeing the club's promotion from the old Third Division to the First Division. Later, he also held posts as managing director and chairman of Coventry. In 1987 he returned to Fulham as chairman, staying till 1997.

Although to most people he is indelibly linked with the BBC, his broadcasting career started at ITV, when in 1967 he became head of sport at LWT. Alongside Brian Moore, who Hill recruited, he became presenter and figurehead of ITV's football output. His most notable legacy from those years is the introduction of the now ubiquitous expert panel, first used for the 1970 World Cup. The BBC was duly impressed and in 1973 he was headhunted. As presenter and expert analyst on Match of the Day (1964-) and other sports programmes he spent the next 25 years alternately enthusing and infuriating audiences and praising and lecturing a succession of co-pundits. After leaving in 1998 he joined Sky Sports as presenter and analyst, most recently on the programme Jimmy Hill's Sunday Supplement.

Gosta Johansson

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