We are delighted to announce the appointment of Neal Ardley as our first-team manager.
Neal, of course, is well known to our supporters as he made almost 250 appearances for Wimbledon as a player from 1991 until 2002, during which time he helped the Dons to a sixth place Premier League finish in 1994.
However, history played no part in his selection as he impressed the club board, supported by Harry Bassett, with his coaching and his leadership skills, combined with a very clear vision for football development within the club, beating off three very strong competitors for the job.
Chief Executive, Erik Samuelson, said: “We put the candidates through a very exacting interview process. They were all very impressive but it wasn’t difficult to pick out the outstanding candidate for the role. With four graduates from our Academy already in the first team squad, Neal’s background in bringing through young players fits perfectly with our commitment to youth development. We are looking forward to working with him.”
Former Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Watford full-back Neil Cox has been appointed as our assistant manager. Neil hung up his boots in 2008 after over 600 appearances in senior football and he has since had a spell as manager at Leek Town. We are delighted that Simon Bassey, who impressed during his spell as caretaker manager, has agreed to continue as a first-team coach at AFC Wimbledon.
About Neal Ardley
Neal started preparing for a manager’s role at the early age of 24, when he took his first coaching badges and he now holds the UEFA Pro coaching qualification, which has helped him in his role as Academy Manager at Cardiff City, being instrumental in developing Cardiff’s highly regarded youth system.
The Bluebirds appointed him as Academy Manager in 2007 with the remit of continuing the club’s reputation for bringing young players through after the emergence of talented players such as Joe Ledley and Aaron Ramsay. Neal has since impressed in the role by guiding several players through to the first-team squad, most recently with highly-rated pair Joe Ralls and Theo Wharton making the step-up.
A full-back or right midfielder during his playing days, Neal played with distinction for the Dons for 11 years and also had spells with Watford, Cardiff and Millwall, before taking on the role of Academy Manager with the Bluebirds after his retirement from playing in 2007.