Premier League English

Hodgson bids adieu to his five-decade football career

Former England manager and Crystal Palace legend Roy Hodgson – the other iconic legend of British football – will be bidding adieu to the game when this season comes to a close.

The pioneer for British coaches abroad, Hodgson coached the Three Lions in the twilight of his exemplary five-decade career in the game.

Hodgson, 73, wistfully mused that “the time is right” to step down at Palace and retire graciously from the sport that has dominated his life since he was a teen. Having begun his coaching career abroad in Sweden in 1976, the English legend went on to manage England between 2012 and 2016, and this Wednesday night he will proudly lead his boyhood club out for one last grand bash at Selhurst Park against Arsenal before facing one of his former clubs, Liverpool, on Sunday in his final rumble.

“Goodbyes have never been my forte,” said Hodgson. “I’ve been much better at hellos. It risks being an emotional occasion and I’m not good on emotional occasions.”

“It’s a decision which hasn’t exactly been taken overnight. It’s been really brewing for a long time. I had in the back of my mind that the right time to leave the club and maybe even to leave football for a while would be at the end of the season. I’m pleased that despite the speculation of the last two or three months, we’ve been able to keep things on a pretty even keel.”

In his earlier years Hodgson was not big on following conventional approaches as a coach and opted instead on making his name on foreign shores. He rapidly established himself as a successful manager in Sweden, actually endorsing his presence and reputation by winning the league with Halmstad in his maiden season. The erstwhile manager then continued running down the gauntlet with Malmo, leading the club to five successive titles during the eighties.

Hodgson’s coaching stints across the continent continued to flourish with panache, managing the Swiss national team as well as Inter Milan in the Serie A.

The English doyen’s reputation was carved in rock in Europe, albeit a bit on a slightly lesser scale at home. He distinguished himself leading Fulham to the Europa League final in 2011 before taking on the role of boss of the England national team, with a much-lamented, tempestuous time with the Three Lions, resulting with a hugely disappointing first-round exit from the 2014 World Cup and a disastrous elimination by Iceland in the round of 16 at Euro 2016. Not altogether the blotches one would hope to see on a CV as impressive as his had been prior to his England XI managerial tenure.

The storm clouds rolled off and the coach from Croydon then found redemption closest to home, keeping Palace in the Premier League for four successive seasons despite being reined in by a tight budget during his stint as the boss.

“His record with us simply cannot be overstated – he is the only Palace manager to secure four years in the Premier League and he has helped give us stability in the most turbulent of times,” said Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish.

“We will be forever grateful for his immense contribution and I am delighted that we will have the opportunity to show our appreciation at Selhurst Park after the Arsenal match, alongside 6,500 supporters. Roy will leave us after our final Premier League match of the season with our enormous thanks for his incredible contribution to our club, and with our very best wishes for the future.”