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Gillingham appoint ex-Tottenham, Birmingham, Leicester player turned assistant to Steve Bruce

Gillingham appoint Stephen Clemence, who is an ex-Tottenham, Birmingham, Leicester player turned assistant to Steve Bruce.

The Gills have been searching for a new boss since the beginning of October, when they parted company with Neil Harris, who was in charge at Priestfield for just over 20 months.

Harris’ side went on a run of three games without a win having topped the League Two table after winning their first four league games, but four defeats in seven saw them drop to 8th.

Now Gillingham have got a new head coach in Stephen Clemence, who made nearly 250 appearances in the Premier League and Football League playing as a midfielder.

He kicked off his career with Tottenham, spending six years as a pro but never established himself as a regular first-team player.

He was also capped once for England at under-21 level. He signed for Birmingham in 2003, and named player of the 2006โ€“07 season. He switched to Leicester City, but became injury prone. Clemence as a player was known mostly for his passion, drive, leadership and commitment on the pitch.

After he retired, Stephen Clemence, whose Dad was the late great Ray, linked up with the coaching staff at Sunderland before moving to Hull City as reserve-team manager and as first-team coach.

He continued to follow Steve Bruce wherever he went, to the likes of Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday, Newcastle and West Brom as first-team coach or assistant manager.

Fast forward to November 1st 2023 and according to Alex Crook, Steve Bruce has been advising his former club Gillingham and Clemence before the appointment was announced.


He coached current England International, Jack Grealish, while at Villa Park with the player later commenting that Stephen was “the closest I have been out of all the Assistant Managers I have had. We go through all of my clips and discuss where I am going right or wrong. I am glad to have someone like Stephen taking the time out to help me and improve.”

The former Premier League midfielder will take charge of the team for the first time on Saturday November 4 for the Emirates FA Cup first round tie away at Hereford. His first league fixture at the helm will be next Saturday’s away game against Wrexham.

As a player Clemence came through the youth ranks at Tottenham Hotspur and made his professional debut against Manchester United in the Premier League on August 10, 1997.

He scored his first goal in a Spurs shirt in an FA Cup tie at home to Fulham in January the following year. He went on to make 108 appearances in total while at White Hart Lane, scoring three goals.

In January 2003 Birmingham City paid a reported ยฃ250,000 for his services and Clemence made 125 appearances for the club across a four-and-half year spell.

In July 2007 Leicester City paid a million pounds for his signature but, due to injury, he was limited to making just 34 appearances, scoring three times.

He decided to retire due to a heel injury in Easter of 2010. He was released by Leicester at the end of that season and the midfielder then decided on a career in coaching.

Stephen featured for England U21’s on one occasion as a player, that coming as a substitute against Sweden in a 2-0 win in February 1998.

The club’s new First-Team Head Coach will take training for the first time on Thursday. He will be assisted by Robbie Stockdale who has extensive knowledge in the EFL having coached at Grimsby Town and Sunderland. He also managed Rochdale while the team were in Sky Bet League 2 in the 2021-22 season.

As a player he featured for Middlesbrough while in the Premier League before stints at Rotherham and Tranmere Rovers.

This will be Clemence’s first managerial post, agreeing to link up with Gillingham, who currently sit 9th in the table with 25 points from 16 games played and a point from the playoff places.

The 45 year old will have Robbie Stockdale as his assistant, having previously managed Rochdale, was caretaker at Sunderland and had backroom roles at the likes of Hull and MK Dons.

Kenny Jackett, the club’s director of football, led the search for with former chairman Paul Scally, who remains a minority shareholder and also on the board, being involved in the process, as per the Guardian, who first confirmed the news of the agreement.

Earlier on in the week, American majority owner Brad Galinson made it clear that he was looking for a head coach that plays with an entertaining style while also downplaying the significance of managerial experience.

“What is not on the [wanted] list are things like what formation do they play, have they coached before, are they old, or young, have they coached Premier League, have they been assistant coach, do they have League One, Two or National League experience?โ€ Galinson said. โ€œTo me, those things are secondary to make the formula work.

“The person we are hiring is 100% in charge of the first team, training, formations, technical area, but he is not in charge with recruiting and getting the players in, he is just part of that.”

This is how fans reacted as Gillingham appoint the ex-Tottenham, Birmingham, Leicester player turned assistant to Steve Bruce…

@louishart_: Risky appointment for me, but I actually donโ€™t mind someone whoโ€™s a breathe of fresh air and definitely hungry to prove something in the managerial game. Get us playing football. winning and Iโ€™ll be happy. #Gills

@LiamThorl: Stephen Clemence barmy army #Gills

@otcountyculture: Stephen Clemence to Gillingham feels very Rusky.

@GFC_Ben: Great appointment, Stephen Clemence as Head Coach and Robbie Stockdale as assistant. Outside the box appointment but one weโ€™ve needed for a few years now, very happy with that, canโ€™t wait to see some proper exciting football being played at Priestfield now! #UTG

@SteveJoyce14: As long as his first words aren’t “Judge me after 10 games (or 12 if it’s not going very well)” I’m on board #Gills

@theElgrunn: Very exciting. Risky appointment but I see the potential in his cv coached some top level players. Fans will need to be patient and thatโ€™s my worry as we can have an impatient fanbase at times

@GrahamP82387717: It’s a new approach for us, he’s never been a No 1, we have no idea how he will cope running a lower league team. Suggesting he’s not going to be good enough is as ridiculous as suggesting he will be the right man. We hope the Club has made the right decision #Gills @TheGillsFC

@GKSimmo: It wonโ€™t be long before some in the fan base get impatient with him because weโ€™re not scoring 11 goals every game. #Gills

@iriches2: And there it is!!! Hoorahโ€ฆ.. in the words of the mighty Doug โ€˜ Letโ€™s hear it for the Gills!โ€™

@BlueBrazil1975: Well done Brad. Worth the wait and great appointment. Letโ€™s get behind him Gills fans.

@gfc_trenbog: Clemence Iโ€™m very happy with and really hope he can get us playing football but also winning. Stockdale not so happy with but has experience as a number 2. An exciting future nether the less look forward to seeing clemence ball in full swing

@ReeceHeard_: Intriguing appointment. Impossible to guess how it will go as we have nothing to judge him off. Letโ€™s hope it all works out

@Paul_Beaney: Great news, welcome Steve, we all look forward to having you on board!

@Henry_Htph14: Welcome Clemence, as a fanbase we have to get behind him and Robbie and the results and performances will come. Season starts now, UTG ๐Ÿ’™

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