David Healy (footballer)

Last updated

David Healy
David Healy (footballer).jpg
Healy as a Fulham player (December 2007).
Personal information
Full nameDavid Jonathan Healy [1]
Date of birth (1979-08-05) 5 August 1979 (age 39)
Place of birth Killyleagh, County Down, Northern Ireland
Height 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Playing position Striker
Club information
Current team
Linfield (manager)
Youth career
1995–1999 Manchester United
Senior career*
1999–2001 Manchester United 1 (0)
2000Port Vale (loan) 16 (3)
2000–2001Preston North End (loan) 2 (1)
2001–2004 Preston North End 137 (44)
2003Norwich City (loan) 5 (1)
2003Norwich City (loan) 8 (1)
2004–2007 Leeds United 111 (29)
2007–2008 Fulham 30 (4)
2008–2011 Sunderland 13 (1)
2010Ipswich Town (loan) 12 (1)
2010–2011Doncaster Rovers (loan) 8 (2)
2011–2012 Rangers 19 (4)
2012–2013 Bury 16 (1)
National team
1993–1994 Northern Ireland U15 10 (6)
1994–1995 Northern Ireland U16 2 (1)
1995–1997 Northern Ireland U18 5 (2)
1998–1999 Northern Ireland U21 8 (4)
1999 Northern Ireland B 1 (0)
2000–2013 Northern Ireland 95 (36)
Teams managed
2015– Linfield
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

David Jonathan Healy, MBE (born 5 August 1979) is a Northern Irish former footballer and now football manager who is in charge at NIFL Premiership club Linfield.

Order of the British Empire order of chivalry of British constitutional monarchy

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.

Association football Team field sport

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.

NIFL Premiership mens association football top division of Northern Ireland

The NIFL Premiership, known as the Danske Bank Premiership for sponsorship purposes, is a professional association football league which operates as the highest division of the Northern Ireland Football League – the national league in Northern Ireland. It was formerly called the IFA Premiership until 2013, and is the successor to previous competition formats called the Irish Premier League, Irish Football League Premier Division, and before that simply the Irish Football League. Still known in popular parlance simply as the Irish League, the Premiership was established in 2008 under the auspices of the Irish Football Association before the Northern Ireland Football League was created for the start of the 2013–14 season. At the end of the season, the champion club is presented with the Gibson Cup.


A striker, he is the all-time leading scorer for Northern Ireland with 36 goals, and also shares the record for the highest scoring tally during a UEFA European Championship qualifying campaign of 13 goals, shared with Robert Lewandowski. He began his career as a youth player at Manchester United in 1995, turning professional in 1999, but signed for Preston North End two years later after a short loan spell. He spent three years with Preston, maintaining a healthy goals to games ratio, before transferring to Leeds United in 2004. After three years to Leeds he moved on to Fulham for a season, before settling at Sunderland in 2008. He moved north to Scotland to play for Rangers in January 2011. He helped the club to the SPL title in 2010–11 and also played in the 2011 League Cup final victory, before departing at the end of the 2011–12 season, when his contract expired. He joined Bury for a one-season spell in August 2012. In addition to these clubs he has also played for Port Vale, Norwich City, Ipswich Town, and Doncaster Rovers on loan. He was released by Bury in May 2013, and chose to retire in November 2013 after failing to find a club. Before representing his country at a senior level, he also played for both the under-21 team and the B team.

Forward (association football) Association Football position played near the opponents goal

Forwards are the players on an association football team who play nearest to the opposing team's goal, and are therefore most responsible for scoring goals.

Northern Ireland national football team mens national association football team representing Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland national football team represents Northern Ireland in international association football. From 1882 to 1920, all of Ireland was represented by a single side, the Ireland national football team, organised by the Irish Football Association (IFA). In 1921, the jurisdiction of the IFA was reduced to Northern Ireland following the secession of clubs in the soon-to-be Irish Free State, although its team remained the national team for all of Ireland until 1950, and used the name Ireland until the 1970s. The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) organises the separate Republic of Ireland national football team.

Robert Lewandowski Polish association football player

Robert Lewandowski is a Polish professional footballer who plays as a striker for Bayern Munich and is the captain of the Poland national team.

He began his management career with Linfield in October 2015, and led the club to a NIFL Premiership, Irish Cup and County Antrim Shield treble in 2017.

Irish Cup national football competition in Northern Ireland

The Irish Football Association Challenge Cup is the primary football knock-out cup competition in Northern Ireland. Inaugurated in 1881, it is the fourth-oldest national cup competition in the world. Prior to the break-away from the Irish Football Association by clubs from what would become the Irish Free State in 1921, the Irish Cup was the national cup competition for the whole of Ireland. Coleraine are the current holders after beating Cliftonville 3–1 in the 2018 final.

The County Antrim & District Football Association Senior Shield is a football competition in Northern Ireland. The competition is open to senior teams who are members of the North East Ulster Football Association, often plus intermediate teams who qualify via the Steel & Sons Cup, depending on the numbers required.

Club career

Manchester United

Healy was born and raised in Killyleagh, Northern Ireland, and played for Crossgar, Lisburn Youth and Down Academy High School in Downpatrick.[ citation needed ] He signed for Manchester United in August 1999, just four days before his 20th birthday. He made his debut for United in a 3–0 defeat to Aston Villa in the League Cup at Villa Park on 13 October 1999. In February 2000 he was loaned to Port Vale, but could only manage three goals in sixteen games for Brian Horton's side who were relegated to Division Two.

Downpatrick town in Northern Ireland

Downpatrick is a small-sized town about 33 km (21 mi) south of Belfast in County Down, Northern Ireland. It has been an important site since ancient times. Its cathedral is said to be the burial place of Saint Patrick. Today, it is the county town of Down and the joint headquarters of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. Downpatrick area has currently shown to have a population of 10,874 according to the 2011 Census, although it is likely to have increased in recent years.

Manchester United F.C. Association football club

Manchester United Football Club is a professional football club based in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, England, that competes in the Premier League, the top flight of English football. Nicknamed "the Red Devils", the club was founded as Newton Heath LYR Football Club in 1878, changed its name to Manchester United in 1902 and moved to its current stadium, Old Trafford, in 1910.

In the following season he made a second appearance in the League Cup (as a 90th-minute substitute for Luke Chadwick in a game that went into extra time, United eventually losing to Sunderland). He made his Premier League debut on 28 November 2000 as a second-half substitute for Ryan Giggs in a 2–0 victory over Ipswich Town. This was to be his last appearance for United; he signed for Preston North End on loan on 29 December 2000, and the deal was made permanent five days later for a £1.5 million fee.

The 2000–01 season was the 121st season of competitive football in England.

Luke Chadwick English footballer

Luke Harry Chadwick is an English former professional footballer who last played for Soham Town Rangers as a midfielder. He now works as a coach in the Cambridge United academy, a position he took up in June 2016.

Sunderland A.F.C. association football club

Sunderland Association Football Club is an English professional football club based in the city of Sunderland, Tyne and Wear. Sunderland play in League One, the third tier of English football. Since its formation in 1879, the club has won six top-flight titles, a total only bettered by five other clubs, and has finished runners-up five times. The club has also won the FA Cup twice and been runners-up twice, as well as winning the FA Community Shield in 1936 and being finalists the following year. Sunderland have also been Football League Cup finalists in 1985 and 2014.

Preston North End

In the remainder of the 2000–01 season, Healy made 26 appearances for Preston and scored 10 goals. He was a virtual ever-present in the 2001–02 season, appearing in 44 league games and scoring 10 goals.

During the 2000–01 English football season, Preston North End F.C. competed in the Football League First Division, the second tier of English football.

The 2001–02 season saw Preston North End compete in the Football League First Division where they finished in 8th position with 72 points.

In the 2002–03 season he was less successful after Craig Brown replaced the departed David Moyes. [2] By the end of January 2003 he had made only 23 league appearances but scored five goals. Healy joined Nigel Worthington's Norwich City on a month's loan at the end of January. In the end he stayed for the remainder of the season, but in thirteen appearances for the "Canaries" he scored only scored past Sheffield Wednesday [3] and Wimbledon. [4] Having attempted to sign him from Man United two years previously, Norwich attempted to sign Healy permanently from Preston but were denied by Brown. [2]

He found his scoring form again in 2003–04, and netted 15 times in 42 matches for Preston. For this feat he was given the club's Player of the Year award.

Leeds United

Aiming for a move away from Deepdale, Healy got his wish in October 2004, as he was signed by Leeds United for a £650,000 fee. [2] In his first season at Leeds he was the club's joint top scorer alongside Brian Deane with seven goals, despite only joining Leeds halfway through the season. [5] During his time at Elland Road he was linked with dozens of moves to other clubs, the most notable rumour reported in the press being a potential £3 million move to Manchester City. [2]

He again finished as joint top scorer in the 2005–06 season, both he and Rob Hulse on fourteen goals. Leeds reached the play-off finals this season but lost in the final 3–0 to Watford. During the management of Kevin Blackwell Healy found himself regularly being played out of position at Leeds, mainly as a right winger, with Leeds rotating Hulse, Cresswell and Blake up front.

Healy then finished the following 2006–07 season as Leeds' top scorer with ten goals. With Leeds relegated into League One, he left the club at the end of the campaign.


Healy (in white) playing against Sunderland in April 2008 Fulham vs Sunderland.jpg
Healy (in white) playing against Sunderland in April 2008

Healy reunited with former Northern Ireland boss Lawrie Sanchez at Fulham in July 2007 for a reported fee of around £1.5 million. [6] He scored his first goal for Fulham in a pre-season friendly against South China in the Asia Trophy, with a low diving header.

He scored fifty seconds into his league debut for the club following a mistake from Arsenal keeper Jens Lehmann. He also found the net in his second game against Bolton Wanderers, in a 2–1 win at Craven Cottage. However, he only scored two further top-flight goals in the season (past Reading and Sunderland), as well as two cup goals past Bolton and Bristol Rovers. Following the sacking of Sanchez, new manager Roy Hodgson preferred a strike partnership of the American pairing of Brian McBride and Eddie Johnson, leaving Healy on the bench. [7]

In July 2008, Healy caused controversy when he adopted the posture of a flute player (symbolic of the Protestant Orange Order, very offensive to the Irish Catholics in reference to The Troubles, similar to a previous incident involving Paul Gascoigne), in response to a question posed by Celtic fans chanting "Where were you on the Twelfth?" during a pre-season friendly match against Celtic at Craven Cottage. Healy subsequently apologised profusely for any offence he may have caused and signed many autographs for Celtic fans after the game. [8] He remained out of favour with Roy Hodgson, who regarded his signings Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora ahead of Healy in the pecking order. [2]


In August 2008, Healy joined Sunderland on a three-year contract for an undisclosed fee, believed to be worth £1.2 million. [9] Despite this sum he would never start a league game for the "Black Cats". Healy made his debut for Sunderland four days later in the League Cup and marked by scoring the winning goal in extra time against Nottingham Forest. [10] Healy also scored in the FA Cup against Blackburn Rovers. [11] Healy scored his first Premier League goal for the club in a 2–0 home win against Stoke City on 7 February 2009. [12] He managed to score in every competition that Sunderland were entered into in his first season with the club.

He was sent out on loan to Ipswich Town during the winter 2010 transfer window along with teammate Daryl Murphy. [13] He made his debut against Middlesbrough on 6 February 2010, helping Ipswich to earn a point by setting up Murphy to score with a cross. [14] He scored his first goal for Ipswich on 24 February 2010, in a 1–1 draw with Scunthorpe United, salvaging a point and ending his goal drought by scoring for the first time in over a year. [15]

Healy joined Doncaster Rovers on loan in November 2010, to fill the void left by the injured Billy Sharp. [16] He marked his Doncaster debut with a goal, finding the net in a 2–1 win over Millwall on 6 November. [17] Doncaster extended Healy's loan spell into a second month. [18]


In January 2011, Healy signed for Rangers on a six-month deal, with a view to signing a longer contract. [19] Having scored in his Leeds, Fulham, Sunderland, Doncaster and Northern Ireland debuts, he also marked his first Rangers appearance with a goal, coming off the bench to add the final goal of a 6–0 win over Motherwell on 12 February. [20] Upon the expiry of his contract he signed a new one-year deal with the club, tying him to the Ibrox club until the end of the 2011–12 season. [21] On 2 January 2012, Healy scored his second goal for the club, again against Motherwell, with the opener of a 3–0 win. [22] His third goal for the club came the following week, when he scored the first of a 4–0 victory over Arbroath in the Scottish Cup. [23] He netted his third league goal of the season for the "Gers" in a 4–0 win over Hibernian on 28 January, [24] and got his fourth goal in a 4–1 victory over Dunfermline Athletic on 11 February. [25] He left Ibrox at the end of the 2011–12 season following the expiration of his contract.


He signed a one-year deal with League One side Bury in August 2012. [26] He had previously been linked with a return to Preston North End, [27] but manager Graham Westley rejected the chance to re-sign the striker after finding that Preston fans still resented Healy for the manner of his departure eight years ago. [28] He made a scoring debut for the "Shakers" on 25 August, converting a penalty in a 2–2 draw with Coventry City at the Ricoh Arena. [29] He was limited to one goal in his 19 games in the 2012–13 campaign as Bury were relegated into League Two. He was one of 16 players released at the end of the season. [30] Unable to find a club after his release and struggling with persistent ankle injuries, Healy announced his retirement from football on 3 December 2013. [31] [32]

On 31 July 2014, Healy played for Glenavon in a 5–0 loss in a pre-season friendly against his former club Leeds United. [33] The match was part of Glenavon's 125th anniversary celebrations. [34]

International career

He made his début for Northern Ireland on 23 February 2000, putting a brace past Luxembourg. He was still only 20 years old; having made his début for Manchester United the previous October, he had just joined Port Vale on loan. His competitive international début came in September 2000, in a World Cup qualifying game against Malta, and he scored his first competitive goal for his country a month later against Denmark.

On 6 June 2004, in a friendly game away to Trinidad and Tobago (his 35th international), he scored his 13th and 14th goals for Northern Ireland, thus equalling and overtaking Colin Clarke's record for the country. In September that year, Healy was controversially sent off in Northern Ireland's 2–2 draw with Wales. After celebrating the goal he scored to put Northern Ireland 2–0 up, he made a hand gesture towards the fans. The referee sent him off but Healy later explained that he was celebrating towards his family and that was how he always celebrated when scoring for his then-club, Preston North End.

Healy's winning goal against England in 2005, depicted on a mural in Belfast Football mural, Belfast (1) - geograph.org.uk - 1410065.jpg
Healy's winning goal against England in 2005, depicted on a mural in Belfast

On 7 September 2005, at Windsor Park, Healy secured a famous victory for his country against England in a World Cup qualifier when he scored the only goal of the game. This was his nation's first win over the English since 1972. [2]

He achieved his 50th cap and 20th international goal against Finland in August 2006, also playing as captain. [2] A month later, on 6 September 2006, Healy became the first man since Colin Clarke to score a hat-trick for Northern Ireland and the first since George Best to do so in Belfast. His three goals gave Northern Ireland a historic 3–2 victory over Spain. [2] Healy followed this feat with the winner against Latvia on 11 October 2006. [35] In the following international game, against Liechtenstein, he scored a second hat-trick, thus becoming the first player ever to score two hat-tricks for Northern Ireland. [36]

He scored both of Northern Ireland's goals in a 2–1 win against Sweden on 28 March 2007, [37] and two more against Liechtenstein on 22 August, followed by a penalty away to Iceland on 12 September. On 17 November 2007, when he scored against Denmark, it was his 13th goal in the UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying Group F tournament (in eleven games). This made him the highest-ever goalscorer in a UEFA European Championship qualifying campaign. The previous record, of twelve goals in ten games, had been set by Davor Šuker of Croatia in 1996. As a result, Healy was presented with the award by Michel Platini, who quoted: "David Healy's record goes down in history and he beat a world-class striker in Davor Suker to do so. The outstanding performance of David in the qualifying competition of the European Championship and his goal tally of 13 goals is a new record and deserves to be recognised. I am sure that this record will last for some time to come and will be hard to beat. This is why I will be presenting him with a special award to celebrate his fantastic achievement." [38]

In October 2008, Healy received several death threats after he welcomed an international goal he had scored by saying 'the famine is over'. The goal had come after an uncharacteristic drought at the time. Healy's comments were interpreted[ by whom? ] as a reference to Rangers fans' chant – "'the famine is over, why don't you go home?" Healy claimed to be oblivious to the fact that he had offended anyone saying, "I'm so disappointed and upset that anyone could even try and make this link. And when told about this I was totally bemused." [39] Despite finding a new club, Healy was left out of the Northern Ireland squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in 2012 by new manager Michael O'Neill. [40] On 14 November 2012, he marked his return to international duty with an equalising goal from the bench against Azerbaijan – it was his first international goal in four years. [41]

He won a total of 95 senior caps, making him Northern Ireland's third most capped outfield player [42] and fourth overall in the nation's all-time appearances chart behind goalkeeper Pat Jennings (119), Aaron Hughes (112) and Steve Davis (108). His 36 international goals make him the nation's all-time leading goalscorer by a considerable distance.

Management career

Healy was appointed manager of NIFL Premiership side Linfield in October 2015, the club he had supported all his life. [43] [44] He steered the "Blues" to a second-place finish in 2015–16, eight points behind Crusaders. On 7 February 2017, he won his first managerial honour as Linfield beat Crusaders 3–1 in the County Antrim Shield. [45] On 25 February, he was given a six-game general ban after being dismissed from the touchline for the third time of the season. [46] Despite this setback, the "Blues" went on to win the league title in 2016–17, and ended the campaign with a treble after beating Coleraine 3–0 in the final of the Irish Cup. [47] They went on to lose to Celtic in the second round of qualification for the UEFA Champions League in the 2017–18 season, and had a disappointing campaign domestically as they finished fourth in the league and exited both cup competitions at the quarter-finals. On 16 February 2018 Healy won his fourth domestic honour with Linfield as he won the Northern Irish League Cup Final with a 1-0 over Ballymena United, he then guided Linfield to another Country Antrim Shield Final where they face Crusaders. [48]

Personal life

Healy is married to Emma and they have three children: daughters Taylor and Taluulah, and son Jude. [49] He was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2008 Birthday Honours for services to football. [50]

Career statistics


Club performance [51] LeagueCupLeague CupContinentalTotal
EnglandLeague FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
Manchester United 1999–2000 [52] Premier League 0000100010
2000–01 [53] Premier League1000100020
Port Vale (loan) 1999–2000 [52] First Division 163000000163
Preston North End 2000–01 [53] First Division1100000011
2000–01 [53] First Division21810000025*9**
2001–02 [54] First Division44103020004910
2002–03 [55] First Division225104000275
2003–04 [56] First Division38153010004215
2004–05 [57] Championship 115001000125
Norwich City (loan) 2002–03 [55] First Division142000000142
Leeds United 2004–05 [57] Championship287100000297
2005–06 [58] Championship421222200048***14
2006–07 [59] Championship41101020004410
Fulham 2007–08 [60] Premier League304212100346
Sunderland 2008–09 [61] Premier League101212100143
2009–10 [62] Premier League3020200070
Ipswich Town (loan) 2009–10 [62] Championship121000000121
Doncaster Rovers (loan) 2010–11 [63] Championship8200000082
Rangers 2010–11 [63] SPL 81000020101
2011–12 [64] SPL113211010154
Bury 2012–13 [65] League One 16110000019****1
Career total377912152122042899

( * ) include 3 play-off appearances. ( ** ) includes 1 play-off goal. ( *** ) includes 2 play-off appearances. ( **** ) includes 2 League Trophy appearances.


Northern Ireland national team [66]

Managerial statistics

As of 9 May 2018
Linfield 14 October 2015Present142882034061.97


as a player


as a manager


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