Player Profile: Jason Wilcox
Date of Birth: 15/07/1971
Height: 5 ft 11 in
National Team: England
International Caps: 3
International Goals: 0
Born near Bolton, Jason Wilcox made his name at Blackburn Rovers where he was part of the famous 1994/95 Premier League title winning squad. He spent the vast majority of his career playing on the wing and was key to the goal scoring success of Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton as the duo bagged a combined 39 goals during their title winning campaign.
Wilcox was one of few home grown players during the 94/95 campaign. Local businessman and die hard Rovers fan Jack Walker pumped millions into the club making Jason’s involvement and impact even more special. The Rovers fans loved him, he was one of their own.
Aged 16, Wilcox’s dad wrote to the club asking for a trial, which was granted. The teenager trained on the Sunday and by Monday had signed a professional contract at Ewood Park. He was a serious talent and the then Blackburn Rovers academy manager Jim Furnell said he was “one of the best young midfielders in English football”. High praise indeed and Wilcox lived up to the hype.
He made 33 appearances in his debut season finding the net four times as Blackburn finished a respectable 4th. The following season he was again a prominent figure in the Rovers starting 11 scoring six goals from the wing, which turned out to be his most prolific season. His performances helped Rovers to a second-place finish in the Premier League.
Kenny Dalglish’s side were getting closer and in 1994/95 they went one better. Wilcox once again played a huge role in Blackburn’s success. His relationship with left back Graeme Le Saux was outstanding and the pair provided endless service for Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton who were unstoppable that season. Blackburn won the title on the final day of the season sparking mass celebrations in East Lancashire. And to this day it remains the club’s greatest ever achievement.
His outstanding form for his club resulted in a call up to the national side in 1996. But injuries restricted the winger to just ten league appearances during the 95/96 season as Blackburn struggled to replicate their heroics from the previous year. Kenny Dalglish’s departure signalled the end of an era at Ewood Park and over the course of the next three seasons they’d have four managers, Ray Harford, Tony Parkes, Roy Hodgson and Brian Kidd.
Wilcox made 89 league appearances throughout that time and suffered relegation to the Championship in 1999. Injury after injury prevented him from reaching the heights of 94/95 and when Leeds United made a bid of around £4m for the winger it was an offer the club could not refuse.
Wilcox spent five years at Elland Road and became an instant hit scoring on his debut for the club. During the 2000/01 season Leeds reached their first European Cup semi-final since 1975 and Wilcox started the home leg of their clash with Galatasaray. The game ended 2-2 meaning only a win in Turkey would see them through to the final. Wilcox was dropped to the bench as Galatasaray won 2-0.
The following season it was the same outcome for Leeds in Europe, this time in the Champions League as Valencia ran out 3-0 winners following a goalless draw at Elland Road. Wilcox did not feature in either game.
Like his time at Blackburn, Wilcox’s Leeds’ career ended in relegation from the Premier League. The Yorkshire side were struggling financially and therefore had to sell a number of high-profile players. With his contract ending that summer Wilcox was allowed to leave Elland Road on a free and later signed for Leicester City who’d also suffered the disappointment of relegation.
Aged 33 Wilcox initially put pen to paper on a one-year deal. That was later extended to 2006 following a run of solid performances. In October 2004 he suffered what many thought would be a career ending injury, but defied the odds to overcome a torn cruciate ligament playing for the Foxes later that season in a 3-1 win over Millwall.
He rarely featured for the remainder of his contract and when he did he failed to make a mark. Wilcox left Leicester that summer and joined Blackpool on a free transfer. He teamed up with former Blackburn Rover teammate Simon Grayson and his experience that season helped the Tangerines avoid relegation from League One.
Wilcox left Blackpool that summer after a disagreement with a member of Grayson’s back room staff. Shortly after he announced his retirement from professional football bringing an end a career spanning seventeen years. He made 273 Premier League appearances scoring 31 goals and 45 assists.
Jason’s form in Blackburn’s title winning season earned him a call up to the national team and in 1996 he won his first cap against Hungary. He was outstanding, rattling the bar in the opening minute and many expected him to make the final Euro 96 squad. But it wasn’t to be. Terry Venables cut the winger from his 22 man squad. He’d later go on record saying the decision was one of the hardest decisions of his managerial career.
Later in his career Wilcox would make two more appearances for England against France and Argentina. Despite being included in Kevin Keegan’s provisional Euro 2000 squad he was replaced by Gareth Barry due to injury and never represented the Three Lions again.
Where is Jason Wilcox now?
Following his retirement from professional football Wilcox spent time away from the game before working in punditry. The former Blackburn winger joined BBC Radio Lancashire and had a weekly column in the local newspaper.
Since then he’s gone on to gain his coaching badges and in 2012 was appointed manager of Manchester City’s under 13 youth team. After a successful first year in charge he was promoted to under 18’s manager and again continued his success winning the North Division in the 2013/14 season.
Wilcox played a key role in the relocation of Manchester City’s academy, and following Pep Guardiola’s arrival in 2017 he was appointed head of academy coaching. Just over a year later he was promoted to academy director, a role he still holds to this day.
Did you know? Interesting facts about Jason Wilcox
– He’s a black belt in judo.
– Wilcox has represented England at both football and judo.
– He was made to choose between football and judo at the age of 17.