Jim Magilton

James Magilton (born 6 May 1969) is a Northern Irish former footballer and manager. He is currently the sporting director at Dundalk.

Jim Magilton
Magilton with Ipswich Town in 2007
Personal information
Full name James Magilton
Date of birth (1969-05-06) 6 May 1969 (age 52)
Place of birth Belfast, Northern Ireland
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)[1]
Position(s) Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Dundalk (Sporting Director)
Youth career
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1984–1986 Distillery 1 (0)
1986–1990 Liverpool 0 (0)
1990–1994 Oxford United 150 (34)
1994–1997 Southampton 130 (13)
1997–1999 Sheffield Wednesday 27 (1)
1999Ipswich Town (loan) 11 (1)
1999–2006 Ipswich Town 262 (15)
Total 581 (64)
National team
1990 Northern Ireland U21 1 (0)
1990 Northern Ireland U23 1 (0)
1991–2002 Northern Ireland 52 (5)
Teams managed
2006–2009 Ipswich Town
2009 Queens Park Rangers
2011 Shamrock Rovers (assistant)
2012 Melbourne Victory
2013–2020 IFA (football director)
2015–2017 Northern Ireland U21
2021– Dundalk (sporting director)
2021 Dundalk (interim)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Magilton started his playing career in the Irish League with Distillery then signed for Liverpool, where he stayed until 1990 when he joined Oxford United. After scoring 34 goals from midfield in 150 league appearances he signed for Southampton in 1994. Three years later he moved to Sheffield Wednesday for two seasons before going on briefly on loan to Ipswich Town – the move was made permanent in 1999.

Magilton's club career ended at Ipswich, having made over 250 league appearances. He moved into management at Ipswich, where he led the club for three years before managing Queens Park Rangers for a brief spell. Magilton also represented his country, making 52 appearances for the Northern Ireland national football team, scoring five goals.

Club career

Born in Belfast in 1969, Magilton started out at junior club St Oliver Plunkett, under the guidance of Jackie Maxwell, whose long-term association with the club saw him win the BBC NI Unsung Hero award in 2006.[2] Magilton was a gifted midfield player with an exquisite range of passing who represented Northern Ireland 52 times. He played for Distillery, Oxford United, Sheffield Wednesday, and Southampton before ending his playing career after seven-and-a-half years at Ipswich.


Magilton started his playing career with Distillery[3] in the Irish League, making his senior debut as a substitute against Newry Town in March 1985, aged just 15.


Magilton served as an apprentice at Liverpool alongside the likes of Steve McManaman and Mike Marsh. He turned professional in 1988 but never made a first team appearance, although he was selected as a (non-playing) substitute in both the 1988 and 1990 Charity Shields, in 1988 Liverpool beat Wimbledon and then two years later shared it with Manchester United in a 1–1 draw, both at Wembley Stadium.[4][5]

Oxford United

He was transferred to Oxford United in October 1990 at the age of 21. There he made 150 League appearances before moving to Southampton in February 1994.


Magilton was Alan Ball's second signing a month after being appointed as Southampton's manager, costing the Saints £600,000. Magilton made his first Saints appearance in a 4–2 victory at The Dell over Liverpool on 14 February 1994 in which match Matthew Le Tissier scored a hat-trick. Magilton soon established himself as a commanding presence in the central midfield role. Magilton was described in Holley & Chalk's In That Number as "a neat and indefatigable "fetcher and carrier" between penalty areas."[1]

In the 1994–95 season Magilton started all 42 league games (scoring 6 goals) and continued to feature regularly in the following two seasons under managers David Merrington and Graeme Souness. Following Dave Jones' appointment in the summer of 1997, Magilton rejected the offer of a new contract and, after making 156 appearances with Southampton.

Sheffield Wednesday

In September 1997 he moved to Sheffield Wednesday for a fee of £1.6 million. He made his debut on 13 September away to his former club Liverpool. He made 22 appearances during his first season at Sheffield Wednesday, scoring once in a 1–1 draw with West Ham in April 1998.[6]

He began the 1998–99 season with Wednesday, although he did not feature regularly for the first team, making only 6 appearances during the first-half of the season.[7]

Ipswich Town

In January 1999, Magilton signed for Ipswich Town on loan for the remainder of the season. He made his debut for Ipswich on 17 January in a 2–1 away loss to Sunderland. He scored his first goal for the club on 13 March 1999, in a 3–0 home victory over Huddersfield Town at Portman Road. In March 1999 he signed permanently for Ipswich.[8]

He started the 1999–2000 season as a regular in the Ipswich first-team. He scored his first goal of the season on 30 August, netting in a 6–1 win over Barnsley. Magilton helped Ipswich push for promotion throughout the season, scoring 4 goals in 38 appearances in the league as Ipswich finished 3rd in the First Division. He scored his only career hat-trick in a 5–3 victory against Bolton Wanderers in the 1999–2000 play-off semi-finals on 17 May, securing the club's place in the play-off final with a 7–5 aggregate win, and admitting himself that it was his best ever performance. Magilton started in the play-off final at Wembley Stadium as Ipswich beat Barnsley 4–2, earning promotion to the Premier League as a result.[9]

Magilton continued to be a key part of the Ipswich side during the following season. He scored his first Premier League goal for Ipswich in a 2-1 away defeat to Leicester City on 6 September. He made 33 appearances in the league during the season, helping Ipswich to a 5th placed finish in the Premier League and qualification for the UEFA Cup the following season.[10]

The 2001–02 season was a disappointing one for Magilton and Ipswich, as the club suffered relegation from the Premier League. He continued to feature regularly in the league and in the UEFA Cup for Ipswich at the start of the season, although he did not feature as often during the second-half of the season. Following relegation from the Premier League in 2002, Ipswich went into administration. Magilton was told he could leave the club on a free transfer due to the club's financial troubles, despite having a year left on his contract,[11] however he wanted to stay at the club, stating before the 2002–03 season; "There is no chance of me wanting to leave. I want to stay and repay the faith the manager and the supporters have shown in me."[12] He made 47 appearances in all competitions during the season, scoring three goals.[13]

Following the departure of Matt Holland in 2003, Magilton was named club captain.[14] He signed a new one-year contract with the club in July 2003.[15] On 27 September, he scored a late winner in a 2–1 away win over Watford. He captained Ipswich to a 5th placed finish during the 2003–04 season, qualifying for the play-offs, although Ipswich lost out to West Ham United in the semi-finals.[16]

He signed another one-year contract in July 2004.[17] Ipswich manager Joe Royle also confirmed that he would continue to keep the captain's armband, Royle said of Magilton; "It also shows the quality of Jim that even when he is having an off-day, he never hides on the pitch. He always shows that same 100 per cent commitment and is forever looking to receive the ball. That's a sign of a good player - and a captain."[18] He scored 3 goals in 44 appearances over the course of the season, leading the team to 3rd in the Championship, narrowly missing out on automatic promotion. Ipswich lost out to West Ham United for the second consecutive season in the play-off semi-finals.[19]

A new one-year contract offer was made to Magilton following the end of his contract in July 2005. After spending some time considering his future, the 36 year old veteran midfielder eventually signed a new one-year contract on 8 July.[20] He continued to feature regularly during the 2005–06 season, making 35 appearances across all competitions, scoring once.[21] The 2005–06 season was Magilton's last at Ipswich as an active player however he was registered to play for 2006–07 whilst manager.

International career

Magilton represented Northern Ireland at Under-21 and Under-23 level in 1990, before making his senior debut for his country in 1991. He scored his first goal for his country on 5 February 1991, scoring in a 3–1 friendly win against Poland in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He became a regular player for Northern Ireland, featuring in their 1994 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign. He scored his second goal for Northern Ireland in a qualifier against Albania on 9 September 1992, which Northern Ireland won 3–0. He scored in two other qualifiers against Albania and Latvia in other 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches in 1993. He scored his fifth goal for his country on 11 February 1997, scoring in a 3–0 friendly win against Belgium. He was also part of Northern Ireland's 1998 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign in 1997.[22]

Magilton was named Northern Ireland captain for a match against Yugoslavia on 16 August 2000.[23] He featured regularly in his country's 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign in 2000 and 2001. Magilton won 52 caps for Northern Ireland during his career, scoring 5 goals.[22]

Managerial career

Ipswich Town

Magilton as manager of Ipswich Town in 2007

Magilton originally intended to secure a coaching role at another club, but made a tentative approach to the Board at Ipswich to fill the managerial vacancy after Joe Royle's departure prior to the 2006–07 season. Magilton was appointed as Ipswich manager on 5 June 2006, alongside former Academy Director Bryan Klug. Although registered as a player, Magilton stated that he would play no more games for the first team during the 2006–07 season, but hoped to turn out for the reserve side.[24] In May 2007, Magilton was linked with the Northern Ireland manager's job after it was vacated by Lawrie Sanchez, but the ex-international decided against taking the post,[25] due to his lack of experience.

In Magilton's first season in charge (2006–07), he led Ipswich to 14th position in the league. Then, in the 2007–08 Season, Magilton lead Town to an 8th-place finish, missing out on the play-offs by a single point. This position was obtained by virtue of Town's excellent home record despite their poor away form. However, despite substantial investment in the squad the team failed to make the play-offs in the 2008–09 season. This led to Magilton being sacked as manager on 22 April 2009.[26]

Queens Park Rangers

On 3 June 2009, Magilton was appointed the Queens Park Rangers manager until June 2011, replacing Paulo Sousa, who was dismissed in April.[27] On 9 December 2009, Magilton was suspended by Queens Park Rangers following an incident at Watford's Vicarage Road. He reportedly head-butted midfielder Ákos Buzsáky after the match in the dressing room. Magilton reportedly head butted the midfielder in a heated exchange[28] although later reports, from an unnamed source, claimed no such headbutt occurred and that the suspension was in response to an ultimatum from Buzsáky.[29] On 16 December 2009, it was announced Magilton had left Queens Park Rangers by mutual consent.[30][31]

Shamrock Rovers

On 6 July 2011, Magilton was appointed as Shamrock Rovers Assistant manager on a caretaker basis after Trevor Croly resigned. Magilton assisted Michael O'Neill for the remainder of the 2011 season, helping the Hoops to their 2nd league title in as many years as well as reaching the Europa League group stages.[32]

Melbourne Victory

On 7 January 2012, Magilton was signed as head coach of A-League club Melbourne Victory for the remainder of the 2011–12 season, following the dismissal of Mehmet Durakovic.[33] He took over from interim head coach Kevin Muscat after Melbourne Victory's home game on 7 January 2012 against the Newcastle Jets. Upon being appointed the new coach of Melbourne Victory, Magilton immediately went to work strengthening the squad, signing Australian international defender Mark Milligan on loan from JEF United Ichihara Chiba, Hong Kong based Spanish midfielder Ubay Luzardo on loan from Kitchee SC, and Sierra Leonean-Australian midfielder Julius Davies. In his debut match as Melbourne Victory's coach, Melbourne Victory drew 1–1 with Adelaide United. His first win as coach came in round 19, as Melbourne Victory defeated the Central Coast Mariners 2–1. After a lacklusture tenure as coach, in which the Victory recorded 2 wins, 5 draws and 5 losses in 12 games, the Victory failed to make the finals, causing Magilton to state that the club needed to rebuild the squad and change its culture.[34] He went about attempting to achieve this goal by releasing defender Fabio Alves and veterans Tom Pondeljak and Rodrigo Vargas and signing Gold Coast United defender Adama Traoré and Central Coast Mariners defender Sam Gallagher.

After his contract had expired and was not renewed, Magilton left the club on 2 April 2012.[35] It was speculated that Magilton attempted to pursue legal action against the club, on the basis that he had been offered a three-year contract extension, that had then been rescinded.,[36] which was confirmed to be a false rumour. With a winning percentage of just 16.67%, Magilton is statistically the worst coach of Melbourne Victory.

Irish Football Association

On 21 June 2013, Magilton was appointed the elite performance director by the Irish Football Association, signing a four-year contract.[37]

Northern Ireland U21

In May 2015, Magilton was appointed manager of the Northern Ireland national under-21 football team, with Damien Johnson and Kevin Horlock serving as his assistant coaches, and Mark Crossley serving as goalkeeping coach.[38]


In December 2020, Magilton left his role in the Irish FA to take up a new position as sporting director at Irish side Dundalk.[39] Magilton became interim manager of the first team in April 2021 when Shane Keegan departed the club.[40] His interim spell ended after a run of 4 wins, 3 draws and 3 losses on the 16th June 2021, when the club appointed Vinny Perth, who had been sacked by the club 10 months previously.[41]

Personal life

Magilton has "always" been interested in Gaelic football and has spoken of his admiration for Jim McGuinness's managerial achievements.[42]

International statistics


Appearances and goals by national team and year
National teamYearAppsGoals
Northern Ireland

International goals

Scores and results list Northern Ireland's goal tally first, score column indicates score after each Magilton goal.

15 February 1991Belfast, Northern Ireland Poland3–13–1Friendly
29 September 1992Belfast, Northern Ireland Albania3–03–01994 FIFA World Cup qualification
317 February 1993Tirana, Albania Albania1–02–11994 FIFA World Cup qualification
42 June 1993Riga, Latvia Latvia1–02–11994 FIFA World Cup qualification
511 February 1997Belfast, Northern Ireland Belgium2–03–0Friendly

Managerial statistics

As of 16 June 2021[43]
Team Nat From To Record
Ipswich Town 5 June 2006 22 April 2009 156 59 43 54 037.82
Queens Park Rangers 3 June 2009 16 December 2009 23 9 7 7 039.13
Melbourne Victory 7 January 2012 2 April 2012 12 2 5 5 016.67
Northern Ireland U21 11 May 2013 11 October 2016 18 1 2 15 005.56
Dundalk (interim) 19 April 2021 16 June 2021 10 4 3 3 040.00
Total 219 76 60 83 034.70



Ipswich Town


  1. Holley, Duncan; Chalk, Gary (2003). In That Number – A post-war chronicle of Southampton FC. Hagiology Publishing. p. 544. ISBN 0-9534474-3-X.
  2. Magilton lauds BBC NI Unsung Hero, bbc.co.uk
  3. Confirmed by the player and club secretary
  4. "Charity Shield". lfchistory.net. 20 August 1988. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  5. "Charity Shield". lfchistory.net. 18 August 1990. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  6. "Sheff Wed 1 West Ham 1". Sporting Life. 13 April 1998. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  7. "Games played by Jim Magilton in 1999/2000". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  8. Jim Magilton at Soccerbase
  9. "Ipswich triumph at last". BBC News. 29 May 2000. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  10. "Games played by Jim Magilton in 2000/2001". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
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  12. "I Want to Stay - Magilton". TWTD. 6 August 2002. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
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  14. "Jim New Skipper". TWTD. 1 July 2003. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  15. "Magilton Signs Deal". TWTD. 10 July 2003. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
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  20. "Jim Finally Does Sign". TWTD. 8 July 2005. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  21. "Games played by Jim Magilton in 2005/2006". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  22. Jim Magilton at National-Football-Teams.com
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  24. Hodges, Vicki (13 July 2006). "Magilton feels right at home". BBC Sport. Retrieved 29 August 2006.
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  29. "Midfielder ultimatum prompted Magilton suspension". ESPN Soccernet. 10 December 2009. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
  30. "Magilton and Gorman in QPR exit". BBC News. 16 December 2009. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
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  34. http://www.foxsports.com.au/football/a-league/melbourne-victory-coach-jim-magilton-urges-the-club-to-change-personnel-and-culture-to-return-to-top/story-e6frf4gl-1226296144711 [bare URL]
  35. Davutovic, David (1 April 2012). "Interim coach Jim Magilton departs from Melbourne Victory". Herald Sun. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
  36. "Magilton threatened to sue Victory". SBS. 4 April 2012. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
  37. "Jim Magilton given IFA elite performance director role". BBC Sport. 21 June 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  38. "Jim Magilton to continue as Northern Ireland U21 boss". BBC.com. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  39. "Jim Magilton leaves Irish FA to take up role as sporting director at Dundalk". BBC Sport. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  40. https://www.lmfm.ie/news/sport/once-we-get-the-right-person-well-let-everybody-know-jim-magilton/ [bare URL]
  41. https://www.dundalkfc.com/vinny-returns-to-oriel-park/
  42. "McGuinness discussed coaching role with Dundalk". RTÉ. 20 May 2021.
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  44. "Charity Shield". lfchistory.net. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  45. "Charity Shield". lfchistory.net. Retrieved 31 March 2020.