Tributes paid to Bradford Academy Manager Matthews after death aged 56
Written by Training Ground Guru — May 9, 2023
TRIBUTES have been paid to Bradford City Academy Manager Neil Matthews, who has died from cancer at the age of 56.
Matthews joined the Bantams as Head of Academy Coaching in December 2017 and then replaced Alan Nevison as Academy Manager in the summer of 2019.
Bradford today announced Matthews’ death, adding that there would be a minute’s silence for their former Academy Manager ahead of the League Two play-off semi-final first leg against Carlisle United at Valley Parade on Sunday.
Bradford also said that the 2023/24 Academy Player of the Year award would be named after Matthews.
CEO Ryan Sparks said: “We are absolutely heartbroken by Neil’s passing. Neil was a special person who took immense pride in his work. He was one of the most selfless people I have ever met, who often put the football club and his colleagues before anything and anyone else.
“It was an honour to know Neil and a privilege to work alongside him. He will be sorely missed by all those who knew him and worked with him. He was one of a kind and his passing leaves a huge hole in the Bradford City family.
“The world has lost a true gentleman. A class act, full of love for others." Martin Drury, former Bradford City Head of Academy Coaching
“The passion, care and dedication he brought to his work and our football club was truly remarkable. Neil has overseen the production and development of some of the best Academy players in the country and has played a massive role in enhancing the club in recent years.
“He built an Academy like no other in English football and his legacy will live on through the many careers he helped start. His spirit will be with us in the play-off fixtures, and I hope you can join us on Sunday as we remember a great man.
“My thoughts are with Neil’s wife, Sue, and his loved ones at this difficult time. We will support them every step of the way.”
Martin Drury, who worked under Matthews as Head of Coaching before leaving Bradford to join Manchester United last summer, tweeted: “A man who gave people the best gift you can ask for - he believed in you and offered opportunity.
“The world has lost a true gentleman. A class act, full of love for others. Devastating. Rest in peace my friend. Until we meet again.”
Fifteen Academy players earned pro contracts with the Bantams during Matthews’ time as Academy Manager. His own professional playing career, as a forward, began with Grimsby Town in 1984 and took in spells at Halifax Town, Stockport County and Lincoln City.
He retired from playing in 2001 and coached at Huddersfield Town before joining the Bantams.