Tributes flood in as former Luton, Newcastle and Wimbledon manager Joe Kinnear dies

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Ex-Spurs and Brighton defender passes away aged 77

Former Luton Town, Wimbledon and Newcastle United manager Joe Kinnear has died at the age of 77.

The defender came through at Tottenham Hotspur as a youngster, going on to play over 250 games for the north London club, until moving to Brighton & Hove Albion in 1975. He retired from playing aged just 30 a year later due to a knee injury having won 26 caps for the Republic of Ireland, beginning a management career that saw him spend five years with Sharjah and Al-Shabab in the United Arab Emirates.

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Kinnear spent three months coaching India and one year at Nepal, before returning to England in 1989 to assist Dave Mackay at Doncaster Rovers, then heading to Wimbledon as first team manager. He led the Dons to sixth in the Premier League in the 1993-94 season, as they were ninth the following campaign, going on to reach the semi-finals of both cup competitions.

Former Luton manager Joe Kinnear has passed away today - pic: Peter Norton/ALLSPORTFormer Luton manager Joe Kinnear has passed away today - pic: Peter Norton/ALLSPORT
Former Luton manager Joe Kinnear has passed away today - pic: Peter Norton/ALLSPORT

After suffering a heart attack before a game in March 1999, he left the Dons that summer, but was back in the game as director of football with Oxford United, a position he also took at Kenilworth Road in January 2001, although swiftly took over from Lil Fuccillo as first team manager, unable to prevent the club dropping out of Division Two.

Having signed star striker Steve Howard for £50,000, Kinnear also brought in Kevin Nicholls and Chris Coyne, plus winger Jean-Louis Valois, as the Hatters stormed to promotion from Division Three, finishing as runners up to Plymouth Argyle to secure the club’s first promotion in 20 years. Under Kinnear, Luton went on to finish ninth the next year, although he was sacked once a consortium led by John Gurney took over in May 2003.

After spending almost 12 months out, Kinnear then took over from Paul Hart as Nottingham Forest boss in February 2004, only to resign 10 months later, as despite a lengthy time out of the top flight, he was then appointed as Newcastle United interim manager following the shock resignation of Kevin Keegan in September 2008, leaving the St James’ Park the following summer.

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Kinnear was back once more with the Magpies as director of football between June 2013 and February 2014, while it was announced in 2021 that he had been living with dementia since 2015. His family said in a statement today: "We are sad to announce that Joe passed away peacefully this afternoon surrounded by his family."

Luton Town tweeted: “We are saddened to learn that our former manager Joe Kinnear has passed away at the age of 77. Our thoughts are with Joe’s friends and family at this time, Rest in Peace.”

Former Hatter Kevin Nicholls said: “What a GUY-What a Manager! Thank You for signing me.” As ex-Luton forward John Hartson, who played under Kinnear at Wimbledon, added: “Sad news hearing that my ex boss joe Kinnear has passed away.. My thoughts are with Joe’s wife Bonnie and the Kinnear family .. RIP Gaffer,” while former Town skipper Brian Horton, who was with him at Brighton, wrote: “So sad to see about Joe Kinnear passing away today at the young age of 77 years old. Joe was with the Seagulls when l joined in 1976 and got on great with him and enjoyed his company and his stories a top player and colleague RIP and condolences to his family.”

Tottenham Hotspur tweeted: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former player, Joe Kinnear. The thoughts of everyone at the Club are with his family and friends at this incredibly sad time.” While AFC Wimbledon said: “Everyone connected with Wimbledon was deeply saddened to hear the news that our former manager, Joe Kinnear, has passed away. A true legend of the Club, Joe gave us some amazing memories that we treasure. Our deepest condolences go to his family at this difficult time.”

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Meanwhile, Newcastle United tweeted: “Newcastle United is saddened to learn of the passing of Joe Kinnear at the age of 77. Joe worked at the club as both Manager and Director of Football. The thoughts of everyone at #NUFC are with Joe’s family and friends at this difficult time,” as the Irish FA added: “The FAI is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our former senior international Joe Kinnear who played 26 times for his country in an illustrious career. Our thoughts and sympathies are with Joe’s family and his many friends in football at this difficult time.”

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