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Bryan Gunn

Bryan Gunn
Norwich Career: 1986-1998 (477 appearances), 2002-2009 (non-playing roles)
Current Club:
Date of Birth: 22/12/1963
Nationality: Scottish

Biography

February 20th 1998 saw the end of an era at Carrow Road. Goalkeeper Bryan Gunn signed for Scottish Premier side Hibernian for a five figure fee and thus ended his Canary career that had begun on 15th October 1986.

Born in Thurso in December 1963, Bryan signed professional forms with Aberdeen in 1980. However he played just 21 games (15 league, 1 Scottish Cup, 4 League Cup, 1 European Cup) for the Dons as Jim Leighton occupied the Number One shirt. In October 1986, Bryan signed for Norwich for 100,000 as a belated replacement for Chris Woods who had made the journey to Scotland to join Rangers that summer. Quickly displacing Graham Benstead as the first choice Canary custodian, Bryan became a first team regular. Over the next 10 years, he would make 477 first team appearances. During this spell, he won the Barry Butler Player of the Year award twice and won full Scottish honours on 6 occasions. During his peak, Norwich City enjoyed their most successful seasons finishing third in the Premiership in 1992/93 and competing in the UEFA Cup the following season.

The Norwich City handbook 1997/98
described him as a "brave goalkeeper who commands his penalty area well and is never slow to give defenders instructions". His bravery can be seen off the field in his reaction to his loss of daughter Francesca to Leukaemia. Leukaemia research became his focus and his fund-raising efforts raised the profile of this cause. Norwich fans will remember his shaven hairstyle adopted to accompany that of Francesca whilst she endured chemotherapy. Bryan has also fought back from injury on a number of occasions including a back injury in the 1991/92 and a broken ankle in the 1994/95 season.

The latter injury spell saw Andy Marshall stake a valid claim to the goalkeeper's position even though the Canaries were relegated from the Premiership in 1994/95. Bryan reclaimed his first team position and made 51 appearances in the 1995/96 season. He missed just two league games as a result of being sent off at Sheffield United. However the bizarre own goal by Robert Ullathorne at Ipswich on April 14th highlighted Bryan's increasing susceptibility. 1996/97 was less successful as the Canaries solid defence crumbled. Five goals were conceded at West Bromwich (December 18), another 6 at Port Vale (December 21), four at home to West Bromwich (February 15) and four away to Charlton (February 22). Andy Marshall replaced Gunny for the March 1st tie with Huddersfield. Subsequent injury problems limited Marshall's appearances to just seven appearances. However Marshall was seen as the future and it looked as if Bryan would be released. Contract negotiations finally resulted in a one year contract.

The 1997/98 season began with Andy Marshall occupying the number one spot and with Bryan looking unlikely to add to his 473 first team appearances. However Marshall's form suffered and an injury at Grimsby on January 3rd in the FA Cup gave Bryan another chance. His first game of the season was the 5-0 thrashing at Wolves but he recovered from this to deny Notts Forest in City's 1-0 victory over the league leaders. Another impressive performance came in the 2-1 win over Sunderland. He also played in 1-0 defeat at Crewe before Andy Marshall reclaimed the goalkeepers shirt.

Norwich City and Gunn originally planned in February 1998 for him to join Hibernian on loan until the end of the season,. Scottish transfer regulations relating to loan signings ruled this invalid and so Bryan signed for the Scottish Premiership's bottom placed side for a five figure nominal fee. He made his debut in the 1-0 home defeat by Rangers. However his efforts were too little too late as Hibernian were relegated from the Scottish Premier Division on 2nd May 1998.

Bryan was linked with a move to Dave Hodgson's Darlington whilst he has also stated that he would be interested in a goalkeeping coach's position at Norwich if Bruce Rioch and Bryan Hamilton were to establish such a position. However this seems less likely with him signing a new contract with Hibs. However a broken tibula has damaged Hibs' chances of a successful start to the 1998/99 season. Bryan was forced to retire in March 1999 and quickly returned to Norfolk taking up a position in Norwich City's commercial department. In March 2000, he was suggested as a possible replacement for departed Norwich manager Bruce Rioch.

In December 2001, Gunny's former teammate Rob Newman approached him to come out of retirement to help cover a goalkeeping crisis at Roots Hall. However he rejected the move and the Southend manager opted for Paul Sansome to cover for Danny Gay

At the end of January 2002, it was proudly announced that Bryan would be the next Sherrif of Norwich. Bryan worked for the club as Sponsorship Sales Manager for a number of years before moving on to the role of Community Ambassador in May 2006. This role sees him represent and promote the club at both local and national levels. He will also act as liaison with the Football in the Community scheme.

In February 2007, Gunn was added to Peter Grant's management team as club liaison officer which will involve some coaching elements. “He will be having an input into the work we do with the players but the main thing for me is to capitalise on Gunny's extensive contacts he's gained throughout the game. Sir Alex Ferguson, Steve Bruce, Martin O'Neill...the list goes on and on and I know that when other clubs pick up the phone to talk business and hear that it's Bryan at the other end that will be immensely valuable to us.”

After working as goalkeeping coach following the departure of James Hollman at Christmastime 2007, Gunn was appointed Head of Player Recruitment in May 2008. This followed the departure of Alan Wood, the Chief Scout. Gunn's role is to make use of his extensive contacts north and south of the border to lead a new-look scouting operation for the club, both here in the UK and abroad. Glenn Roeder told the club's official website: "Having worked with Gunny this last seven months, I feel he can do a good job in this vitally important area. He has a wealth of experience and, very significantly, is extremely well connected. Meanwhile I would like to pay tribute to Alan for the work he has done for the club over the past seven seasons and wish him well for the future."

Gunn commented: "I'm delighted to be given this exciting opportunity in what is a vital area of the club's work. Work starts immediately in what will be a very busy summer for us all. It will be my role to help assess players and this is an area where my contacts in the game will be important. 've really enjoyed being part of the technical team working with the 'keepers and now I am delighted to carry on working with Glenn and the staff. I will be going to games and travelling up and down the country - and abroad - in support of Glenn and his squad re-building. I've always been honoured to represent this football club and I'm delighted to be able to continue doing that in this crucial area."

After Roeder's departure from Norwich on 14th January 2009, Bryan was named as caretaker manager and oversaw the club's 4-0 thrashing of Barnsley on 17th January 2009. After a well-publicised Facebook campaign from his daughter, Bryan was named as the club's new manager on 21st January 2009, initially to the end of the 2008/9 season. He brought in Ian Butterworth as Assistant Manager, Ian Crook as first team coach and John Deehan as Chief Scout.

Gunn's appointment wasn't enough to keep City in the Championship and they were relegated on the last day of the regular season losing 4-2 at also-relegated Charlton. His contract was extended for the 2009/10 campaign on 13th May 2009. Delia Smith's husband Mr Wynn Jones said: “The message quite simply and briefly that we have to convey today is that the manager for next season will be Bryan Gunn and his management team of Ian, Ian and John will remain with him. I think Bryan will have learned a great deal from his experience of last season and he's faced some tough lessons and we seriously believe that Bryan is the man to react very positively to those and to learn, which is an attribute of every manager, I believe, particularly a new manager. We're convinced that the team he has with him has exceptional knowledge of League One and I think that's vital. We think that in Ian Crook we have an exceptional coach who not only needs but deserves to have a chance to start with a fresh squad with a fresh pre-season and, stating the obvious perhaps, but the dedication and commitment of Bryan and his team are undisputed and that's equally important for the football club.”

Gunn assembled a new squad for the 2009/10 season making a dozen signings and had a good pre-season with winsover Crystal Palace and Wigan, and a draw against a Manchester United XI. However the new season started atrociously with a 7-1 home defeat against Paul Lambert's Colchester. Although a 4-0 victory over Yeovil followed three days later in the Carling Cup, Gunn was sacked on Friday 14th August with Ian Butterworth appointed Assistant Manager. Although speculatiuon linked Aidy Boothroyd, Mark Robins, Scunthorpe's Nigel Adkins, Southend's Steve Tilson, former Fulham manager Lawrie Sanchez and former Celtic boss Graham Strachan with the post, it was infact Lambert who was announced by chief executive David McNally as the new City manager on 18th August 2009.

In November 2009, Gunn started work as director of business development for the Great Yarmouth based Digital Phone Company. The 45-year-old former goalkeeper is now working with the company's business customers, putting together voice and data communications packages. Phil Rider, chairman of the Great Yarmouth-based company, said he headhunted the ex-Scottish international football player because he was well-respected and well-connected to help expand their business. Mr Rider said: “Bryan is extremely well respected and liked within the business community. He knows a lot of people and I believe he can help us achieve the objectives for our business. We are delighted to have him on board. He's got a lot of excellent qualities and has a very high profile.”

In May 2011, Bryan and family, including son Angus, relocated to the North West with each and every one of the famed clan having good reason to look forward to the new start. Bryan getting a job with a top sports agency. “This is a good opportunity to get back into the sporting arena. For Susan it is also an opportunity to extend her art work to Manchester, where she has exhibited in the past. Our daughter Melissa is also going to Manchester University. Angus, as a 15-year-old, will hopefully come and we’ll find a good school where he can finish off his GCSEs and a football club which can further help develop his skills.”



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