Neal, who rebuilt Chelsea, dies aged 82

Former Chelsea manager John Neal has died at the age of 82.

Neal took over at Stamford Bridge from Geoff Hurst in 1981 and is widely credited with rebuilding the club, which had been in a perilous state.

The Blues avoided relegation to the third tier in 1983 and were promoted back to the top flight the following season as champions.

Neal also made a number of notable signings, bringing in the likes of Kerry Dixon, David Speedie, Pat Nevin, Eddie Niedzwiecki and Nigel Spackman.

He retired because of ill health in 1985, joining the board of directors, after Chelsea had finished sixth in the table in the old First Division.

And the team he built challenged for the league title the following season under his successor John Hollins.

Born in County Durham, Neal was a full-back and spent three years at Aston Villa as a player. He also had spells at Hull, Swindon and Southend.

He spent nine years as Wrexham manager and four years in charge at Middlesbrough before his arrival in west London.

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