UCFB is delighted to announce that former Aston Villa boss John Gregory, ex-Crystal Palace boss Dougie Freedman and former England manager Steve McClaren will be the first Executive Guest Speakers of the 2016/17 academic year.

Gregory, who’s playing career included six caps for England, and Freedman, a Scottish international, will speak to students at UCFB Wembley and UCFB Etihad Campus respectively on Thursday 15th September, with McClaren appearing at the UCFB Etihad Campus the following day.

John Gregory

As a player, Gregory played for Northampton Town, Villa, Brighton & Hove Albion and QPR, but it was at Derby County where he enjoyed the most success, helping the team from the third to first division in successive seasons. He also won six England caps in his time as a player.

His initial managerial roles came at Portsmouth, Plymouth Argyle and Wycombe Wanderers, but it was at Aston Villa where he made his name as a manager. In his first full season at the club, Villa were top of the Premier League at the halfway point of the season, eventually finishing 6th. The following season he guided the club to the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium but lost out to Chelsea.

After his time at Villa, Gregory took the reins at Derby County then Queens Park Rangers, before going to Israel to join Maccabi Ahi Nazareth and then FC Ashdod. He followed his spell there with some time in Kazakhstan at FC Kairat, before his last job in management back in England at Crawley Town.

Dougie Freedman

Freedman’s playing career began at Barnet and took him to the likes of Wolverhampton Wanderers, Nottingham Forest and Southend United, but it was at Palace where he made his name and became a fan favourite.

Over two different spells in South London, the Glaswegian striker netted over 100 times for the Eagles. He helped them gain promotion to the Premier League in 1997, but struggled to nail down a first team place and was sold to Wolves the following year. He returned to Palace though in 2000 and over the next eight years helped the club back into the Premier League again.

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After numerous coaching roles at Palace, Freedman was eventually given the manager’s job in 2011. Despite keeping the club in the Championship, Freedman decided to join Bolton Wanderers 18 months later, narrowly missing out on the Play Offs at the end of the season.

His last job in management was at sleeping giant Nottingham Forest after taking over from Stuart Pearce. Despite working to a transfer embargo, Freedman lead the club on a 13-game unbeaten run in 2015, before leaving the club earlier this year.

Steve McClaren

Though a professional player before becoming a coach and manager, it is for the latter which McClaren is regarded. He started as reserve team coach at Oxford United before moving to Derby County in 1995, where he was formerly a player, to assist Jim Smith in the fist team. In his first season, the club won promotion to the Premier League.

His time in the midlands was enough to impress the great Sir Alex Ferguson, who took McClaren to Manchester United in 1999 as his assistant. It was in his first year there that the club went on to win the famous treble. The following year McClaren was appointed as coach of the England team, playing a vital role alongside Peter Taylor and Sven-Goran Eriksson.

In 2001 he took his first manager role at Middlesborough. His time at the club would go down as the most successful in the club’s history. McClaren’s five-year reign in the north east saw the club win the League Cup, their first ever piece of silverware. The club also reached the final of the Uefa Cup but were eventually beaten by serial winners Sevilla.

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In 2006, England came calling full time after the departure of Eriksson. McClaren’s appointment was widely praised at the time due his time in the coaching set-up and familiarity with the squad. However, his time in charge did not go to plan with England failing to qualify for Euro 2008 following a 3-2 loss at Wembley to Croatia.

His next job saw him take the rare route as a British manager by going abroad, to Dutch side FC Twente. McClaren’s first season saw the club finish second, before following that up the next year with their first ever Dutch league title. Despite his brilliant success in Holland, McClaren left for Germany for a brief stint at Wolfsburg.

There followed a short spell at Nottingham Forest, a second stint at FC Twente and then a coaching role at Harry Redknapp’s QPR.

McClaren was back in the hot seat at Derby in 2013, leading the club to an agonising loss in the Championship play-off final that same season to Redknapp’s side. He left the club at the end of the following season after narrowly missing out on a play-off spot.

His last role was in the season just gone, back in the Premier League for the first time in nine years, at Newcastle United.

Read more about our Executive Guest Speaker Series