Gary O’Neil has made the move into coaching after spending close to two decades as a player, where he turned out for four different clubs in the Premier League and appeared in won promotion from the Championship four times.
Born in Beckenham, O’Neil joined the youth setup at Portsmouth as a teenager, becoming the club’s youngest ever player when he made his first-team debut for the side, managed at the time by Tony Pulis, aged 16 years, eight months and 12 days in January 2000.
During his time with Pompey, O’Neil also earned a host of England youth caps, captaining the Three Lions at several age levels and winning nine caps for the under-21s.
Another AFC Bournemouth connection, under Harry Redknapp and after helping the club to the Championship title, the midfielder got his first taste of the Premier League in 2003.
O’Neil was signed by current England manager Gareth Southgate for Middlesbrough in 2007, becoming team-mates with Jonathan Woodgate, and he went on to play over a century of times in the north east in the top two tiers, before returning to his London roots with West Ham United.
His return to the Premier League ended after an ankle injury and the Hammers’ relegation, but he played a key part in the side’s immediate return to the top division, starting in the play-off final win over Blackpool the following May.
Reuniting with Redknapp at Queens Park Rangers in 2013, O’Neil would again start in a successful play-off final win, the R’s beating Derby County at Wembley at the end of the campaign, though the day was bittersweet for the midfielder, who received a red card after 60 minutes for a tackle.
A hat-trick of play-off final wins for O’Neil came with Norwich City in 2015, two days before his 32nd birthday. He appeared late in the game, utilising his experience to help see the match out for the Canaries and a return to the Premier League for player and club.
Into the later stages of his playing career, the midfielder appeared for two seasons with Bristol City before taking in his final campaign as a professional with Bolton Wanderers.
In total, O’Neil made 251 Premier League appearances, and, but for a seven-game loan spell with Walsall as a teenager, played all of his football in the top two divisions, netting 38 goals during his career.
After hanging up his boots at the end of his year with the Trotters, O'Neil took his first role in coaching in August 2020, when he joined Liverpool as assistant manager of the club's under-23s.
Working closely with the side's manager Barry Lewtas, O'Neil switched to take up his current senior first team coach role under Woodgate on the south coast in February 2021.