Paul Sturrock

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Paul Sturrock
Personal information
Full namePaul Whitehead Sturrock [1]
Date of birth (1956-10-10) 10 October 1956 (age 64)
Place of birth Ellon, Scotland
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Position(s) Striker
Youth career
Grandtully Vale
1972–1973 Vale of Atholl
1973–1974 Bankfoot Athletic
Senior career*
1974–1989 Dundee United 385 (109)
National team
1977–1982 Scotland under-21 9 (0)
1981–1987 Scotland 20 (3)
Teams managed
1993–1998 St Johnstone
1998–2000 Dundee United
2000–2004 Plymouth Argyle
2004 Southampton
2004–2006 Sheffield Wednesday
2006–2007 Swindon Town
2007–2009 Plymouth Argyle
2010–2013 Southend United
2015 Yeovil Town
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Paul Whitehead Sturrock (born 10 October 1956) is a Scottish football player and coach.


As a player, Sturrock spent his entire senior career with Dundee United, making more than five hundred appearances between 1974 and 1989. He won the Scottish Football League title with United in 1982–83 and the Scottish League Cup twice, in 1979 and 1980. He was named the SFWA Footballer of the Year in 1982. At international level, Sturrock played twenty times for Scotland and appeared at the 1982 and 1986 World Cups.

Sturrock's managerial career began with St Johnstone in 1993, where he went on to win the Scottish First Division title in 1996–97 before returning to Dundee United as manager. Since 2000, Sturrock has worked as a manager in English football, initially with Plymouth Argyle where he helped the club to win two promotions before moving on to a brief spell with Southampton. He has subsequently also managed Sheffield Wednesday, Swindon Town and Southend United as well as returning to Plymouth for a second spell. He became Yeovil Town manager in April 2015, but left the club eight months later. According to an analysis by the Financial Times he was among the country's best ever managers, even though he has mostly managed clubs at Championship level and below. [2]

He is known by fans as Luggy [3] (from the Scots language word lugs, Eng: ears). Sturrock announced in July 2008 that he was suffering from a mild form of Parkinson's disease. [4] His son, Blair, is also a professional footballer.

Early life

Sturrock was born in Ellon, Aberdeenshire and grew up in Pitlochry, Perthshire, where he was educated at the local primary and secondary schools and played for amateur side Grandtully Vale. In 1972, he joined Vale of Atholl of the Perthshire Amateur First Division (where he returned as coach in his latter days with Dundee United), and in the 1972–73 season he scored approximately 100 goals. He then moved on to Bankfoot Athletic, and in the 1973–74 season he scored 53 goals as they finished 2nd in the Scottish Junior FA First Division. He had trials with Morton and St Johnstone, but was signed for Dundee United by then manager Jim McLean on 1 July 1974.

Playing career


Sturrock made his debut in the European Cup Winners' Cup match v Juil Petrosani of Romania on 18 September 1974 and his league debut on 28 December 1974 as a substitute against Motherwell.

In his first season at Tannadice he made nine League appearances and came on from the substitutes' bench for three more and in the process he scored six goals. His first goal for Dundee United was one of two he scored in a 2–2 draw with Rangers at Tannadice on 5 April 1975. Dundee United finished fourth in the League that year. In the following season, he made 18 League appearances, eight as sub, and scored three times. He was also played as a substitute in two of the three Scottish Cup ties and was on from the start in five out of six League Cup games and scored once. He also started in three of the four UEFA Cup games netting one in that competition, too.

1976–77 not only saw Dundee United consolidate their Premier League position but throughout the campaign Sturrock was an ever-present, playing in all 36 League games and scoring 15 times. Adding that total to one each in the Scottish Cup and League Cup he was top scorer at the Club that year. He played in United's only Scottish Cup tie, a 4–1 defeat at St Mirren. He also appeared four times plus once as sub out of the six League Cup ties. In a short-lived Anglo Scottish Cup campaign he was brought on as sub in one leg of the tie against Aberdeen.

In 1982–83, Dundee United won the Scottish League Championship, losing only four League games during the season. Sturrock contributed to this success with eight goals in his 28 appearances. He also set up Ralph Milne for his fourth-minute opener against Dundee in the final League game. The Scottish Cup that year had been yet another early exit at the hands of St Mirren. Sturrock scored seven in the nine games he turned out in on the way to a League Cup quarter-final exit. He also played in seven of the eight games and scored once in a UEFA Cup run that ended with an exit in Prague.

His playing career ended in 1989. His final goal for United came on 8 April 1989 in a 2–1 victory over local rivals Dundee. [5] In 385 league appearances from 1974 to 1989 he scored 109 goals for the club. His final tally of 171 goals in 576 games in all competitions makes him the second highest goalscorer in Dundee United's history. Sturrock stayed at Tannadice for the next five years, in the role of coach. He left the club in 1993 after twenty years continuous service.


Sturrock made his first appearance for the Scotland under-21 team on 12 October 1976, in a goalless draw with Czechoslovakia. Four months later, he scored in a 3–2 win against Wales under-21s on 9 February 1977.

Sturrock made his full international debut for Scotland against Wales on 16 May 1981, and on 8 November 1981, he scored his first goal for Scotland in the 2–1 World Cup qualifier defeat against Portugal in Lisbon. Sturrock won 20 caps for his country, scoring three goals. He was a non-playing member of the Scotland squad for the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain and appeared twice in Mexico in 1986.

Management career

In a 2012 study by Stefan Szymanski, economics professor at the University of Michigan, Sturrock was rated as one of the best managers in English football. [2]

St Johnstone

In 1993, Sturrock became the manager of First Division team St Johnstone, having been recommended by the outgoing manager, John McClelland. Despite some early poor form – which included a 4–0 Scottish Cup humbling at the hands of Stenhousemuir – Sturrock eventually guided the team to a comfortable promotion in 1996–97.

Dundee United

In September 1998 Sturrock was appointed manager at Dundee United. He made a bright start to his time as manager at Tannadice, where he was feted by the fans for his excellent spell as a player. His United team failed to recover from the sale of top scorer Billy Dodds in December 1999, when they were lying third in the table. The team scored few goals following Dodds's departure, and Sturrock resigned after two games of the 2000–01 season. [6]

Plymouth Argyle

In October 2000 Sturrock joined Plymouth Argyle, a club which had reached the lowest ebb in its history, struggling in the English Football League Third Division. [3] A shake-up at boardroom level took place, Sturrock began to build his own squad. The following season, he guided them to the Third Division title breaking numerous records in the process, including a club and league points total of 102. In October 2003, Sturrock had successfully taken Argyle back to the top of the Football League Second Division and left when Plymouth had just 12 games to play in what would prove to be another season when they would finish as divisional champions and return to the Football League Championship, formerly known as the First Division. As a result of his success at Home Park he was named as the manager of Argyle's Team of the Century in a BBC Devon poll. [7]


Sturrock was named as the successor to Gordon Strachan as manager of Southampton on 4 March 2004. On 23 August 2004 it was announced that Sturrock was leaving the club 'by mutual consent', after a disappointing run of form and rumours of player unrest and boardroom dissatisfaction with his management. [8]

Sheffield Wednesday

He was then appointed by League One club Sheffield Wednesday languishing in 14th place on 23 September 2004, and he guided the club to the League One play-offs. After beating Brentford in the semi-final with an aggregate score of 3–1, Sturrock took Wednesday to the play-off final at the Millennium Stadium and beat Hartlepool United 4–2 after extra-time, winning promotion to the Championship. Despite numerous injuries to key players he helped Wednesday to finish 10 points clear of relegation in their first season back in The Championship.

A slow start to the 2006–07 season sparked rumours that Wednesday were about to sack Sturrock, but this speculation looked to be false when he agreed a new four-year contract on 14 September. But he was sacked on the evening of 19 October, [9] just five weeks and three games after agreeing this new deal. The new contract was agreed while the club were at the bottom of the League, while he was sacked when they were fourth from bottom.

Swindon Town

In late October 2006, Swindon Town allowed their management team of Dennis Wise and Gustavo Poyet to join Leeds United. Swindon pounced at the opportunity to acquire the services of Sturrock and on 7 November 2006 Sturrock was confirmed as manager with Kevin Summerfield and John Blackley following him from Wednesday. [10] Sturrock's first season in charge at Swindon was a success, achieving promotion from League Two to League One.

Swindon made a decent start to the 2007–08 season, maintaining their position in the top half of the league table after the first 8 games.

Return to Plymouth

On 27 November 2007, Sturrock resigned his post as Swindon Town manager after just over a year with the club to rejoin previous club Plymouth Argyle. Sturrock also brought back to the club assistants Kevin Summerfield and John Blackley, who were previously with him during his first successful spell as manager. [11] Sturrock then proceeded to take the club to its highest league position in 20 years: tenth in the Championship. [12] However, the team subsequently struggled and finished five points and one place outside the Championship relegation zone in the 2008–09 season. [12] On 10 December 2009, Sturrock was removed as Plymouth Argyle manager and put into a business support role by chairman Sir Roy Gardner. [12] On 22 April 2010 the Plymouth board confirmed that Paul Sturrock had left his role within the club to pursue other managerial opportunities. Following Sturrock's departure, it emerged that the board had mis-managed the finances of the club and Argyle entered administration. [13]

Southend United

On 5 July 2010 he was confirmed as manager of League Two Southend United. Former Salisbury City manager Tommy Widdrington was named as Sturrock's assistant manager [14] while one of Sturrock's former players at Plymouth Argyle and Sheffield Wednesday, who served as captain at the latter, Graham Coughlan was soon appointed as a player-coach.

Sturrock faced the tough task of rebuilding the Southend side with only five first team players available for selection at one stage of pre-season, with only Anthony Grant, Matt Paterson and Scott Spencer surviving. Sturrock soon appointed new signing Craig Easton, who he had previously managed at Swindon Town, as captain while another player from one of Sturrock's old clubs, Chris Barker, was later appointed as vice-captain, having initially been signed on loan, and then permanently on deadline day. [15] It was not an easy task for Sturrock as his assistant, Tommy Widdrington left for "footballing reasons" on Wednesday 15 December 2010. [16] After a mid table finish in his first season, he enjoyed more success during the 2011–12 season where Southend led League Two for most of the campaign. Sturrock was named Manager of the Month for September 2011 by the Football League. [17]

Sturrock was sacked as manager of Southend United on 24 March 2013 [18] although it was agreed that he could lead out the players in the final of the Football League Trophy to be held at Wembley on 7 April. [19] Sturrock declined the offer.

Yeovil Town

After a brief spell as an advisor to Conference Premier side Torquay United, he departed just four days after taking the job, [20] after being appointed manager of Football League One side Yeovil Town on 9 April 2015, with the club all but relegated. [21]

Following a poor start to the season, Yeovil announced on 1 December 2015 that they had parted company with Sturrock. [22]


Following his retirement from professional management, Sturrock returned to live in the South West of England. He remained involved in local football, being given an advisory role at non-League club Plymouth Parkway. [23] He also writes a regular column for local newspaper, the Plymouth Evening Herald . [24]

On 8 March 2018, Sturrock renewed his involvement with Dundee United when he was appointed as the club's chief scout in England. [25] Later in March, Sturrock was added to the United coaching staff. [26] He left United during the 2018–19 season. [27]


As a player

Dundee United

As a manager

St Johnstone

Plymouth Argyle

Sheffield Wednesday

Swindon Town





Club performanceLeagueCupLeague CupContinentalTotal
ScotlandLeague Scottish Cup League Cup Europe Total
1974–75 Dundee United Division One 126--10136
1975–76 Premier Division 17320-51275
1976–77 36151151-4217
1977–78 333418321478
1978–79 336102120387
1979–80 3342196404811
1980–81 351371119405723
1981–82 311552116715424
1982–83 2881097714516
1983–84 174322050276
1984–85 30146262624820
1985–86 3185250534613
1986–87 3066030110506
1987–88 93-3232157
1988–89 9150--141
Career total384109481279386011571170

International appearances

Appearances and goals by national team and year [32]
National teamYearAppsGoals
Scotland 198141

International goals

Scores and results list Scotland's goal tally first
1.18 November 1981 Estadio da Luz, Lisbon Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal 1–01–2 1982 FIFA World Cup qualification [1]
2.13 October 1982 Hampden Park, Glasgow Flag of East Germany.svg  East Germany 2–02–0 UEFA Euro 1984 qualifying [1]
3.12 September 1984Hampden Park, GlasgowFlag of Yugoslavia (1946-1992).svg  Yugoslavia 4–16–1 Friendly match [1]

Managerial record

Research by Soccer economists Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski found Sturrock to be among the highest performing managers in English football. The measure was based on game success after controlling for the club's wage bills. [33]

As of 1 December 2015 [34]
St Johnstone Flag of Scotland.svg 1 August 19935 September 1998197905651045.69
Dundee United Flag of Scotland.svg 5 September 19987 August 200085271939031.76
Plymouth Argyle Flag of England.svg 31 October 20004 March 2004178854746047.75
Southampton Flag of England.svg 4 March 200423 August 200413526038.46
Sheffield Wednesday Flag of England.svg 23 September 200419 October 2006104352940033.65
Swindon Town Flag of England.svg 7 November 200627 November 200752261115050.00
Plymouth Argyle Flag of England.svg 27 November 200710 December 200999282249028.28
Southend United Flag of England.svg 5 July 201024 March 2013161674351041.61
Yeovil Town Flag of England.svg 9 April 20151 December 2015306816020.00


His autobiography was published in 2015, Luggy: The Autobiography of Paul Sturrock.

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