Paul Mariner

Paul Mariner (born 22 May 1953) is an English football coach and retired player. He was most recently the head coach and technical director at Major League Soccer club Toronto FC, until his dismissal in January 2013.[5]

Paul Mariner
Mariner as manager of Plymouth Argyle in 2010
Personal information
Full name Paul Mariner[1]
Date of birth (1953-05-22) 22 May 1953 (age 68)[1]
Place of birth Bolton, England[1]
Position(s) Centre forward
Youth career
1971–1973 Chorley
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1973–1976 Plymouth Argyle 135 (56)
1976–1984 Ipswich Town 260 (96)
1984–1986 Arsenal 60 (14)
1986–1988 Portsmouth 56 (9)
1988 Wollongong City[2][3] 2 (0)
1989–1992 Albany Capitals[4] 17 (1)
1992–1993 San Francisco Bay[4] 10 (0)
Total 555 (179)
National team
1977–1985 England 35 (13)
Teams managed
2003 Harvard Crimson (assistant)
2004–2009 New England Revolution (assistant)
2009–2010 Plymouth Argyle
2012–2013 Toronto FC
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

A centre forward during his playing days, Mariner began his career with Chorley. He became a professional player in 1973 with Plymouth Argyle, where he scored 61 goals in 155 appearances and is considered to be one of the club's best players. He joined Ipswich Town in 1976, where he achieved domestic and European success under the guidance of Bobby Robson. He was called up to play for the England national team during his time at Portman Road, and went on to represent his country at the 1980 European Championships and the 1982 World Cup. He spent two years with Arsenal and then Portsmouth before finishing his career abroad. He played for clubs in Australia, the US, and Malta.

He took up coaching during his time with the Albany Capitals and focused on it fully when he retired from playing. After spending time working in Japan, he returned to America to coach, firstly in Arizona and then at Harvard University. He joined Major League Soccer club New England Revolution in 2004 as a member of Steve Nicol's coaching staff. After five years in Massachusetts, Mariner returned to Plymouth Argyle in 2009 as their head coach. He succeeded Paul Sturrock as the club's manager two months later before returning to his role as head coach upon the arrival of Peter Reid. In January 2011, he returned to Major League Soccer as director of player development at Toronto FC.

Mariner is currently the color commentator for the New England Revolution of MLS. Starting in 2020, he commentates only for some of the Revolution games, and shares the duty with Charlie Davies.

Playing career


Mariner during his time with Ipswich Town

Mariner started his career as an amateur player at non-league club Chorley, close to his Lancashire roots and his style at the helm of their attack caught the attention of Plymouth Argyle, for whom he signed in 1973.

So began an impressive scoring record with the Devon club, with 56 goals in 135 appearances coming before Bobby Robson, who had been personally monitoring Mariner's progress, took him to Ipswich for £220,000 with John Peddelty and Terry Austin moving in the opposite direction as part of the deal. Mariner chose Ipswich ahead of similar offers from West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United.[6]

Mariner made his debut in September 1976 and quickly settled into the Ipswich side as an old-fashioned number 9 – i.e., a forward capable of taking hard tackles and rough treatment from defenders but willing to give it back, while also scoring a fair share of goals. Received wisdom suggests that Mariner was only a 'target-man'-type centre forward but he scored plenty of goals with his feet and had the skill to create his own chances on the deck, rather than relying entirely on service through the centre and via the flanks.

Such was Mariner's impact that six months after joining Ipswich, he made his England debut as a substitute in a 5–0 win over Luxembourg at Wembley and played from the beginning in the following game against Northern Ireland in the British Home Championship at Windsor Park, Belfast. He impressed in both games, though did not score and was not selected for the next six matches. During this period, Ipswich finished third in the First Division, with Mariner contributing ten goals from 28 games.

Mariner's third England cap came in the return World Cup qualifier in Luxembourg, scoring a last-minute goal in a 2–0 win which England really needed to win by much more in order to give themselves half a chance of qualifying for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. By now, Mariner had become one of a number of 'target man'-type centre forwards for England coach Ron Greenwood to select from, with Stuart Pearson and Bob Latchford also on the scene. It was Mariner, however, who would be selected the majority of the time.

At club level, Mariner was having a mixed time. He scored 11 goals in 37 appearances for Ipswich, which maintained his England aspirations but the team underperformed in the First Division and finished 18th. However, they reached the FA Cup final at Wembley where they memorably beat Arsenal 1–0. Mariner hit the goal-frame with one chance and generally caused havoc to the Arsenal defence, earning him the Man of the Match award afterwards.

Greenwood did not select Mariner for England throughout 1979, although Mariner had his most productive spell for Ipswich that season, scoring 13 goals in 33 matches. It was not until 1980 that he won a sixth England cap – almost exactly two years after his fifth – and he scored England's goal in a surprising 4–1 defeat against Wales at Wrexham. He stayed in the reckoning thereafter, scoring in a 2–1 win over Australia in Sydney in the final game before England took to the field for the 1980 European Championships. Mariner was named in Greenwood's squad for the tournament, despite not playing during the whole qualifying campaign.

He did not play in the opening 1–1 draw versus Belgium in Turin but came on as a substitute in the remaining two group matches – a defeat against Italy and a victory over Spain, which ensured England's elimination from the competition.


Mariner maintained his England place as his Ipswich goalscoring record continued to improve – 17 from 41 games had come in 1980 and Ipswich made the early running as the next season got underway. England began their qualifying campaign for the 1982 World Cup with a conclusive 4–0 win over Norway, with Mariner scoring a superb goal with a deft turn and shot from 25 yards. He was, however, left out of the next game, which turned into a gruesome 2–1 defeat against Romania in Bucharest. Greenwood put him back in the side a month later for a now vital match against Switzerland, and Mariner scored the opener in a 2–1 win.

Ipswich were challenging for three trophies as the 1981 season approached its climax, with Mariner again to the fore, scoring 13 times in 36 matches. However, they were to miss out on two domestic fronts, with Aston Villa winning the First Division (after Ipswich failed to beat Middlesbrough) and Manchester City defeating Ipswich in the semi-finals of the FA Cup. But in the UEFA Cup, Mariner was proving to be a real hero as glory beckoned.

He scored twice in the early rounds as Ipswich progressed to an attractive quarter final against St Étienne. In the first leg in France Mariner put two away as Ipswich went 4–1 up, and added another as Ipswich completed the task in the second leg. After winning the semi-final, Mariner scored again in the first leg of the final against AZ Alkmaar as Ipswich coasted to a 3–0 lead, ultimately winning the competition 5–4 on aggregate. Weeks later, Greenwood put him back in the England side as the World Cup qualification campaign resumed with a defeat in Switzerland, a vital victory in Hungary and a shock defeat in Norway. It appeared that they might miss out on the World Cup finals for an unthinkable third tournament in a row, but results elsewhere went their way, meaning England only needed to draw with the already qualified Hungary at Wembley in the final game to guarantee qualification. It was Mariner who scored the only goal in a 1–0 win, though he got it after a stumble which saw him score via a deflection rather than an actual shot on goal.

Injuries to both Achilles tendons restricted Mariner's football over the next few months, and he only scored eight times in 25 games for Ipswich. But in the five final England warm-up matches prior to the World Cup in Spain, he scored four times, including a stunning solo run and strike against the Netherlands at Wembley. He was named in Greenwood's squad and started the first match of the tournament, against France.

England went into a 2–1 lead thanks to a brace from Bryan Robson – the first of which was one of the World Cup Finals' quickest-ever goals – before Mariner slammed home a close-range volley to complete an impressive 3–1 win. It was his eleventh international goal in his 22nd match – an admirable ratio of one goal every other game. It was his also his sixth consecutive scoring game for England – a feat previously achieved only by Jimmy Greaves.

Greenwood selected Mariner for the rest of the tournament but he didn't score again and England went out in the second phase after two disappointing goalless draws. Mariner is best remembered for dragging a devastated Kevin Keegan to his feet in support after the England captain, on as a substitute after a tournament ruined by injury problems, sank to his knees, head in hands, missed an open goal with a header which would have sent England into the semi-finals.

Mariner's club boss Robson subsequently became England coach and he continued to select him as the qualification campaign for the 1984 European Football Championship got underway. Mariner continued to score frequently for Ipswich, whose young and vibrant side had started to age and break up.

England's qualification campaign faltered, though Mariner scored in consecutive pool matches against Hungary and Luxembourg – the latter of which would prove to be his 13th and final England goal. By the time he next played for England, he was an Arsenal player, with the Gunners taking him from Ipswich in February 1984 for £150,000. By now Mariner was in his thirties but he still initially performed well for Arsenal, scoring seven times in the final fifteen games of the season. But age was starting to get the better of him; and he scored only nine goals in 41 games in 1984–85.

Mariner won two more England caps but Mark Hateley, a tall and skilful young striker in the Mariner mould, was a candidate for his position and Gary Lineker and Peter Beardsley were also establishing themselves as international strikers.

Hateley came on as a substitute for Mariner in a friendly victory over East Germany in September 1984, before Mariner picked up his 35th and final cap in a goalless draw against Romania in May 1985, a qualifier for the 1986 World Cup. He had scored 13 times for England – the first goal coming on 12 October 1977 in a 2–0 win over Luxembourg in a World Cup qualifier. His last goal for England came on 16 November 1983, also against Luxembourg, but this time in a European Championship qualifier.[7]

However, with Hateley in the ascendancy and Mariner regularly sidelined at Highbury during the 1985–1986 season, Robson opted not to select him for the England squad which qualified for Mexico 1986.

Meanwhile, at his club Mariner was rarely on the field, only playing nine times in 1985–86, including one match as an emergency centre half. In the summer of 1986 Arsenal's new manager George Graham gave Mariner a free transfer; in all he played 80 times for Arsenal, scoring 17 goals. He signed for Portsmouth, where he spent two seasons. In May 1989, he signed with the Albany Capitals of the American Soccer League.[8]


Mariner returned to the Capitals in 1990 as the team now played in the American Professional Soccer League, formed by the merger of the American Soccer League and Western Soccer League. He played three seasons with the Capitals, where he was named to the league's Best XI in 1990.[9][10][11][12] During his three seasons in Albany, Mariner also served as an assistant coach. In the spring of 1992, the Capitals' owner offered him the position of head coach but when he heard a rumour that the team was about to collapse, he accepted a position as a player-assistant coach with the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks. He accepted that position and soon after the Capitals announced they were ceasing operations. In the early 1990s Paul made two appearances for Byhams Dairy, a Sunday League team in Sudbury Suffolk[13]


Early career

After retiring, Mariner worked as a football pundit for BBC Radio Lancashire for their Friday-night Non-League Hour[14] before setting up a management company for footballers. After a spell back in England coaching at Bolton School, he returned to the States to coach youth football at S.C. Del Sol in Phoenix, Arizona. In the fall of 2003 he became an assistant coach at Harvard University. In 2004, he was hired by the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer as assistant coach to former Liverpool and Scotland defender Steve Nicol.

Plymouth Argyle

Speculation about his future was rife in October 2009 when he was linked with a coaching position at one of his former clubs, Plymouth Argyle, abetted by his visit to Devon to promote the city's 2018 World Cup bid and his subsequent resignation on 17 October. It was announced the following day, 18 October 2009, that he was to become the new head coach of Plymouth Argyle, with Paul Sturrock staying on as team manager.[15]

On 10 December 2009, Mariner replaced Sturrock as manager of Plymouth Argyle, following a run of poor form which left the Pilgrims second bottom in the Championship.[16] He was unable to keep Plymouth up, however, and they were relegated from the Football league Championship after a six-year stay, on 19 April 2010.[17]

On 6 May 2010, it was announced that Plymouth were to look for a new manager, however Mariner would remain as a member of the coaching staff.[18] Mariner's tenure as manager ended when Peter Reid was hired on 24 June 2010.[19] Mariner stepped down from his role at Home Park on 30 December 2010 to pursue another opportunity.[20] "I have known Paul for a long time and working with him has been fantastic," said Argyle manager Peter Reid. "I'm sure he will be successful in everything he does in the future. He's a great personality and someone who is a legend with the fans at this football club."[21]

Toronto FC

Mariner was named Director of Player Development for Toronto FC on 6 January 2011, joining new head coach Aron Winter at the club.[22]

After starting the season with 9 straight losses, former Toronto Coach Aron Winter stepped down and Toronto named Mariner head coach on 7 June 2012.[23] Mariner recorded his first victory as Toronto manager on 27 June against Montreal Impact, the game ended in a 3–0 away win.[24] Mariner was dismissed on 7 January 2013.[25] Mariner was praised by former Toronto FC players Andrew Wiedeman[26] and Eric Hassli.[27]

Career statistics

Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Plymouth Argyle
1973–74 41143261005017
1974–75 45203120005021
1975–76 38152021004216
1976–77 107002000127
Ipswich Town
1976–77 28103300003113
1977–78 37117711635322
1978–79 33135310514417
1979–80 41173320425022
1980–81 361373441165826
1981–82 258205110339
1982–83 37133010103713
1983–84 23121042002814
1983–84 157000000157
1984–85 367322000419
1985–86 90302100141
Career 454167452434112812561214

Other includes the UEFA Cup, UEFA Cup Winner's Cup, and FA Charity Shield.[28][29][30][31]

Managerial statistics

As of 7 January 2013
Managerial record by team and tenure
Team From To Record Ref
Plymouth Argyle 10 December 2009 24 June 2010 29 7 6 16 024.1 [19][32]
Toronto FC 7 June 2012 7 January 2013 28 6 8 14 021.4 [23][25][33]
Total 57 13 14 30 022.8


As a player

Plymouth Argyle
Ipswich Town



  1. "Paul Mariner". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  2. Howe, Andrew (9 May 1988). "1988 season – round 14 results". Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  3. Howe, Andrew (9 May 1988). "1988 season – round 15 results". Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  4. "Paul Mariner – profile". Archived from the original on 4 January 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  5. "Toronto FC fires coach Paul Mariner, replaced by Ryan Nelsen". Toronto Star. Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  6. Knight, Brian (1989). Plymouth Argyle: A Complete Record 1903–1989. Derby: Breedon Books. pp. 157–158. ISBN 0-907969-40-2.
  7. "CAPITALS WILL PUT BOLTS TO THE TEST" The Boston Globe – Saturday, 27 May 1989
  8. 1990 Albany Capitals
  9. 1989 Albany Capitals
  10. "The Year in American Soccer – 1990". Archived from the original on 8 January 2009. Retrieved 29 June 2009.
  11. 1991 Albany Capitals
  12. "The Player". Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2009.
  14. "Mariner set for Plymouth return". BBC Sport. 18 October 2009. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  15. "Mariner in for Sturrock at Argyle". BBC News. 10 December 2009.
  16. "Mariner wants to stay at Plymouth". BBC Sport. 20 April 2010.
  17. "Plymouth Argyle to look for new manager". BBC Sport. 6 May 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  18. "Peter Reid appointed manager of Plymouth Argyle". BBC Sport. 24 June 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  19. "Paul Mariner leaves cash-strapped Plymouth Argyle". BBC. 30 December 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  20. "Peter Ridsdale in to save club as Paul Mariner walks away from Home Park" Archived 11 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine. The Plymouth Herald. 31 December 2010. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
  21. "New management team announced". Toronto FC. 6 January 2011. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
  22. Girard, Daniel (7 June 2012). "Aron Winter out as Toronto FC head coach, replaced by Paul Mariner". The Star. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  23. "Recap: Rampant Toronto throttle Impact 3–0 in Montreal". 27 June 2012. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  24. "Toronto FC fires coach Paul Mariner, replaced by Ryan Nelsen". Toronto Star. 7 January 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  25. Vujcic, Djuradj (22 December 2014). "Andrew Wiedeman RedNation Online Interview". Red Nation Online. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  26. Vujcic, Djuradj (29 May 2015). "Eric Hassli RedNation Online Interview". Red Nation Online. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  27. GoS: Paul Mariner
  28. Ipswich Town: Season's Gone by Archived 3 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  29. Paul Mariner: Sporting Heroes
  30. Gunnermania: Paul Mariner Archived 8 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  31. "Managers: Paul Mariner". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  32. "Toronto FC: Matches". Soccerway. Perform Group. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  33. Lynch. The Official P.F.A. Footballers Heroes. p. 143.
  34. King, Elvin (9 April 2011). "Sir Alf Ramsey inducted into Ipswich Town Hall of Fame". East Anglian Daily Times. Retrieved 21 March 2014.