Michael ‘Magic’ Johnson, a former Jamaican international, has been appointed as sporting director of Ireland’s Limerick FC new club academy.
The 47-year-old, who successfully guided minnows Guyana to their CONCACAF Gold Cup debut in 2019, will continue his duties as a coach for the England Under-21 squad. English-born Johnson, who was in Jamaica’s squad at the 2000 Gold Cup and made 13 appearances for the Reggae Boyz between 1999 and 2003, has signed a one-year consultancy contract with Limerick FC.
Johnson, appointed Guyana head coach in 2018 as the standout candidate from 200 applicants, only picked up a single point at the Gold Cup with a 1-1 stalemate against Trinidad & Tobago in the their last group game. They were thrashed 4-0 by the United States then involved in a six-goal thriller with Panama but again conceded four times.
With no professional football league in the South American country, which meant players are forced to ply their trade overseas, Johnson was forced to scout the lower leagues in England and North America to strengthen his squad.
As Johnson oversaw a meteoric rise by the national side, FIFA agreed to fund a 3G facility in Guyana that is now being used by all the national teams and age groups.
But the Nottingham-born former Reggae Boy, who remains an ambassador for English Football League Championship outfit Derby County, resigned from his role with Guyana in September 2019. He was then promptly named as an U21 coach for the English FA, as part of the Elite Coach Placement Programme.
Having kicked off his career at 18 with Notts County, the world’s oldest professional football club, Johnson played just under 700 games in England as a solid defender with County, Birmingham City, Derby and Sheffield Wednesday.
After he hung up his boots in 2009 Johnson became youth team manager at County and took the helm as a joint manager at County for two unbeaten games.
After this taster at senior level, Johnson was determined to make a career out of coaching. He gained a plethora of coaching qualifications, but found it tricky to land a management role until he signed for Guyana despite having previously worked as a youth coach at County, Birmingham City and Cardiff City.
Johnson, whose nickname on the pitch was ‘Magic’, is aiming to add the wow factor at Limerick FC with some of his tricks that he so cleverly utilised to help get Guyana back on the football map.
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