Sammy Lee (footballer)

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Sammy Lee
Sammy Lee.jpg
Lee with Liverpool in 2009
Personal information
Full nameSamuel Lee [1]
Date of birth (1959-02-07) 7 February 1959 (age 62) [1]
Place of birth Liverpool, England
Height 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m) [2]
Position(s) Midfielder
Youth career
1975–1976 Liverpool
Senior career*
1976–1986 Liverpool 197 (13)
1986–1987 Queens Park Rangers 30 (0)
1987–1990 Osasuna 28 (0)
1989–1990Southampton (loan) 2 (0)
1990–1991 Bolton Wanderers 4 (0)
National team
1981–1982 England U21 6 (0)
1982–1984 England 14 (2)
Teams managed
2007 Bolton Wanderers
2008 Liverpool (caretaker)
2012 Bolton Wanderers (joint caretaker)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Samuel Lee (born 7 February 1959) is an English professional football coach and former player who is currently assistant head coach at West Bromwich Albion.


Lee played most of his career for hometown club Liverpool during the 1970s and 1980s as a midfielder, and also represented England fourteen times. He also had playing spells at Queens Park Rangers, Osasuna, Southampton, and Bolton Wanderers.

After retiring as a player, Lee joined the coaching staff at Liverpool before joining Sven-Göran Eriksson's England set-up in 2001. He became assistant manager to Sam Allardyce at Bolton Wanderers in 2005, and their manager in 2007. He was then appointed assistant manager to Rafael Benítez at Liverpool in 2008 before returning to Bolton Wanderers in 2012 as head of academy coaching and development. Lee was appointed assistant coach at Southampton under Ronald Koeman in 2014 before joining Sam Allardyce's England staff two years later. Lee followed Allardyce to Crystal Palace and Everton in 2017. Lee re-joined Allardyce again at West Brom in December 2020 as an assistant.

Playing career

Born in Liverpool, [1] Lee rose through the ranks at Liverpool after joining on an apprenticeship in September 1975, making his first team debut on 8 April 1978, as a 6th minute substitute for David Johnson. Leicester City at Anfield were the opponents, as Lee managed to find the net in the 56th minute of the 3–2 victory. A year earlier, he had been put in the squad for a huge European Cup semi-final against FC Zürich and, although he didn't play, manager Bob Paisley said he would have had no qualms about using him if required.

Lee became a regular from 1980 onwards and, although small in stature, he established a reputation as a sharp-passing and strong-running midfield player who could also hit a decent shot. In the 1981 League Cup final, Lee was at the centre of a controversial incident which left opponents West Ham United feeling slightly cheated. Lee had ventured forwards in an attack and ended up flat out on the turf following a challenge. The West Ham defence pushed out of their area to leave Lee in an offside position but when Liverpool full back Alan Kennedy scored with a follow-up shot, the goal stood. West Ham did equalise but Liverpool won the replay with Lee in the side.

In that year's European Cup semi-final against Bayern Munich, Lee was unusually asked to do a man-marking job on Paul Breitner, the strong and skilful West German international. Lee did the marking job to perfection and Liverpool went through to the final against Real Madrid, which they won 1–0 with Lee again in the side.

Lee got his first League title medal in 1982 and also helped Liverpool retain the League Cup; the same applied in 1983 and 1984, the latter of which was also the year of their fourth European Cup triumph – Lee played in every game en route to the final and scored a clinching goal in the first leg of the semi-final at Anfield against Dinamo București.

Bobby Robson gave Lee the first of his 14 England caps during this period, where he again scored on his debut in the 3–0 1984 UEFA European Championship qualifier victory over Greece, on 17 November 1982.

Injuries took their toll in 1985 and Lee struggled to regain his previous form. With Jan Mølby in the side, there was no longer a place for him at Liverpool. He left during August 1986, joining Queens Park Rangers. Spells at CA Osasuna (where he reunited with former Liverpool teammate Michael Robinson), Southampton and Bolton Wanderers followed before he retired from playing.

Coaching career

Lee's former Liverpool captain, Graeme Souness, invited Lee to join his Anfield coaching staff in 1993. He did so with relish and gained respect to the extent that both Roy Evans and Gérard Houllier kept him on the payroll after Souness left, gaining promotion from reserve team coach to the first team, under Houllier.

Lee became a part-time coach under Sven-Göran Eriksson with England in 2001, [3] eventually leaving Liverpool to go full-time with the national set-up in July 2004. [4]

Bolton Wanderers

He went to Bolton Wanderers in September 2005, as assistant to Sam Allardyce. Lee was offered the role of manager of the England U-21s in July 2006, but turned the move down and also left the senior England set-up. [5] Lee was given the affectionate nickname of "Little Sam" in contrast to Allardyce who was known as "Big Sam" by the Bolton Fans.

Allardyce left Bolton in April 2007 and Lee was confirmed as his replacement shortly afterwards. [6] [7] After only winning one league game from eleven matches, he was sacked in October 2007, becoming the second Premier League manager to be sacked in that season. [6] He was known for regularly citing the 'positives' in post-match interviews despite numerous defeats. He was linked with a return to Liverpool by becoming Rafael Benítez's assistant after the pair watched a Liverpool reserve match together. [8] He was also linked to the assistant manager position at Leeds United under Gary McAllister. [9] He became the firm favourite to become assistant coach to Rafa Benitez following Alex Miller's departure from Liverpool and officially returned to the club when appointed on 16 May 2008. [10]

In November 2008, upon his return to the Reebok Stadium for the first time since his departure, Lee stated that he bore no animosity towards the hierarchy at Bolton or their supporters, the Wanderers crowd responded by giving him a round of applause in appreciation of his spells as player and assistant manager. [11]


On 16 May 2008, he took up the role of assistant manager to Rafael Benítez after signing a 2-year contract. [12] [13] On 21 December 2008 Lee took charge of Liverpool for the first time in a 1–1 draw with Arsenal due to Rafael Benítez being ill with kidney stones. [14]

On 26 August 2009 Lee was sent off by referee Phil Dowd in a 2–1 defeat against Tottenham Hotspur, [15] and was charged with improper conduct by the Football Association on 19 August 2009. [16] Lee left Liverpool in June 2011 by mutual consent. [17]

Return to Bolton

On 14 February 2012 Lee returned to Bolton for a third time, being appointed as the Head of Academy Coaching. His new role saw him take a senior role working alongside fellow ex-Wanderers players and Academy coaches Jimmy Phillips, Tony Kelly, David Lee, Nicky Spooner and Gavin McCann. [18]

On 9 October 2012, after Owen Coyle's sacking, Lee and Jimmy Phillips were named joint-caretaker managers. [19] However, Phillips took charge of first team affairs, with Lee joining up with Julian Darby to assist him.


On 27 June 2014, he agreed to leave Bolton to join Brighton & Hove Albion as assistant manager to Sami Hyypia, with both knowing each other from their time together at Liverpool. [20] However, on 29 June it was announced that he would instead take a coaching position with Southampton, alongside newly appointed manager Ronald Koeman. [21] Lee left Southampton at the end of June 2016, following Koeman's departure and the appointment of Claude Puel as manager. [22]


On 25 July 2016, it was announced that Lee had rejoined Sam Allardyce as a member of England's coaching staff. [23] Lee left the role in December 2016, following the appointment of Gareth Southgate as manager. [24]

Crystal Palace

After Sam Allardyce was appointed Crystal Palace manager, Lee was appointed his assistant on 10 January 2017. [25]

After the departure of Allardyce from Selhurst Park at the end of the 2016–17 season, Lee continued as assistant manager under the club's new manager, Frank de Boer. [26] In September 2017, after de Boer's departure, Lee also left the club. [27]


On 1 December 2017, Lee was appointed assistant manager at Everton following the appointment of Sam Allardyce as manager the previous day. [28] Lee departed Everton on 16 May 2018 following the sacking of Allardyce. [29]

West Bromwich Albion

On 16 December 2020, Lee was appointed assistant head coach to Sam Allardyce after his appointment as manager at West Bromwich Albion. [30]



Career statistics


Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
ClubSeasonLeagueCup [lower-alpha 1] League Cup EuropeOtherTotal
Liverpool [32] 1976–77 First Division 000000000000
1977–78 First Division210000000021
1978–79 First Division2000000020
1979–80 First Division7040000000110
1980–81 First Division37420729 [lower-alpha 2] 200558
1981–82 First Division35320605 [lower-alpha 2] 11 [lower-alpha 3] 0494
1982–83 First Division40330806 [lower-alpha 2] 01 [lower-alpha 4] 0583
1983–84 First Division422201309 [lower-alpha 2] 11 [lower-alpha 4] 0673
1984–85 First Division17010204 [lower-alpha 2] 01 [lower-alpha 4] 0250
1985–86 First Division15030305 [lower-alpha 5] 0260
Queens Park Rangers 1986–87 First Division300????300
Osasuna 1987–88 La Liga ??????
1988–89 La Liga??????
1989–90 La Liga000000
Southampton (loan) 1989–90 First Division20100030
Bolton Wanderers 1990–91 Third Division 40??????40
Career total26113180392334903600
  1. Appearances in FA Cup and Copa del Rey
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Appearances in European Cup
  3. Appearance in Intercontinental Cup
  4. 1 2 3 Appearances in FA Charity Shield
  5. Appearances in Football League Super Cup



Appearances and goals by national team and year
National teamYearAppsGoals
England 198221

International goals

England score listed first, score column indicates score after each Lee goal.
International goals by date, venue, cap, opponent, score, result and competition
117 November 1982 Kaftanzoglio Stadium, Thessaloniki, Greece 1Flag of Greece.svg  Greece 3–03–0 UEFA Euro 1984 qualification [34]
212 October 1983 Népstadion, Budapest, Hungary 9Flag of Hungary.svg  Hungary 2–03–0 [35]

Managerial statistics

As of 17 October 2007 [36]
Managerial record by team and tenure
Bolton Wanderers 30 April 200717 October 200714347021.4

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  22. de Menezes, Jack (30 June 2016). "Claude Puel named Southampton manager". The Independent. Retrieved 3 July 2016. Koeman's assistant manager, Sammy Lee, has left the Saints
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  24. "Sammy Lee leaves England role as Gareth Southgate prepares to appoint staff". Sky Sports. 6 December 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
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  27. Muro, Giuseppe (13 September 2017). "I'm addicted to football, says Hodgson as he starts process of reviving Palace". Evening Standard. London, UK. p. 49.
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  30. "Albion appoint Sam Allardyce". West Bromwich Albion. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  31. "Liverpool 1–1 Everton". Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  32. "Managers: Sammy Lee". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 3 January 2018.