Alistair Murdoch "Ally" McCoist MBE, (/məˈkɔɪst/; 24 September 1962) is a Scottish football player, manager and pundit.
McCoist began his playing career with Scottish club St Johnstone before moving to English side Sunderland in 1981. He returned to Scotland two years later and signed with Rangers. McCoist had a highly successful spell with Rangers, becoming the club's record goalscorer and winning nine successive league championships between 1988–89 and 1996–97. He later played for Kilmarnock. McCoist was inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. He is also a member of the Scotland Football Hall of Fame, having gained 61 international caps.
A prolific striker, he is currently ranked as the fifth highest goalscorer in the top tier of the Scottish football league system all time, having netted 260 times for Rangers and Kilmarnock between 1983 and 2001. If goals from all divisions are included, he moves up one position to 4th. This is because 22 First Division (second tier) goals from his time with St Johnstone are included, taking his overall Scottish league total to 282. If looking at total goals scored for a Scottish league club, he moves up to 2nd place, with 396 goals from 712 games, behind only Jimmy McGrory, who has 485 goals from 478 games.
Towards the end of his playing career, McCoist started a media career. The most prominent example of this was his team captaincy in the BBC sports quiz A Question of Sport. McCoist reduced his media commitments in 2007, when he became an assistant manager to Walter Smith at Rangers. He succeeded Smith as Rangers manager in 2011, but the club then suffered from serious financial difficulties. Rangers suffered liquidation in 2012 and were then placed in the fourth tier of Scottish league football. McCoist helped them win successive promotions to the second tier, but after a poor start to the 2014–15 season McCoist handed in his 12-months’ notice period in December 2014 and was placed on gardening leave. In September 2015 McCoist and Rangers mutually agreed to terminate his contract.
McCoist's first professional club was St Johnstone, having signed from Fir Park Boys Club in 1978. McCoist had trained with St Mirren as a 16-year-old but was rejected by manager Alex Ferguson for being "too small". He made his debut for St Johnstone on 7 April 1979 in a 3–0 win over Raith Rovers. McCoist didn't score his first goal for the club until netting the third against Dumbarton in a 3–0 win in August 1980. He went on to score 23 goals in 43 appearances that season, including a consolation against Rangers in a 3–1 defeat in Scottish Cup replay.
With several English clubs interested in his signature due to his prolific form with both St Johnstone and the Scotland under-18 side including Sunderland, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Middlesbrough and Tottenham Hotspur, he started the 1981–82 season in terrific form netting four goals in five League Cup games including the opening goal in a 2–0 win over Celtic at Muirton Park and the consolation in a 4–1 defeat in the corresponding fixture at Parkhead.
Sunderland manager Alan Durban signed McCoist in 1981. The £400,000 transfer fee spent on McCoist made him Sunderland's most expensive ever signing. His time at Sunderland was unsuccessful: McCoist scored only nine goals in 65 appearances for a side struggling at the foot of the English First Division. He only managed two goals during the 1981–82 season, his first coming against Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest side and his second a spectacular curling effort from the edge of the box against Southampton.
Three goals in three pre-season games against Dundee, Dunfermline Athletic and former team St Johnstone followed by a goal against European Champions Aston Villa on the opening day of the 1982–83 in a 3–1 win looked to point towards big things to come. He followed this up with a goal against Brighton & Hove Albion meaning he had matched his previous seasons tally midway through September.
October 1982 proved to be the highlight of McCoist's spell with Sunderland as he scored five goals in as many games against Norwich City, Southampton, Manchester City, Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers. With seven goals scored by the end of October big things were expected but McCoist failed to score another goal in Sunderland shirt. Despite this he finished third top scorer for Sunderland in 1982–83, one goal behind Nick Pickering.
At the end of the 1982–83 season he returned to Scotland and joined Rangers for a fee of £185,000. During his fifteen years with Rangers, McCoist achieved an array of honours, including ten league championship medals. This began with a title in the 1986–87 season and included the whole "Nine in a Row" period between 1989 and 1997. McCoist also won a Scottish Cup winners' medal and nine Scottish League Cup winners' medals. He was the first player to be Europe's top goalscorer twice in a row (in 1992 and 1993), as well as being named Scotland's "Player of the Year" in 1992. McCoist is Rangers' all-time leading goalscorer (with 251 league goals; 355 in all competitions).
McCoist made his competitive début for the Ibrox side on the opening day of the 1983–84 season against St Mirren and scored twenty goals that year. The highlight was a hat-trick in the 1983 Scottish League Cup Final victory over Celtic. With Rangers still a team very much in the doldrums, McCoist managed 18 goals the following season as he began to endear himself to the club's fans.
His chirpy nature made him difficult to dislike and he soon earned the nickname "Super Ally" with 24 goals in season 1985–86. He made his international debut against the Netherlands in 1986, the same year Graeme Souness arrived at Rangers to begin the Ibrox revolution. McCoist was an ever-present in Rangers' title-winning side of 1987, scoring 33 goals along the way and another hat-trick in the Glasgow Cup final against Celtic brought further accolades his way.
His tally of 31 goals that season could not prevent Celtic regaining the league title and, although Rangers recaptured their crown in 1988–89, McCoist played only 19 games. That title win was the first of nine-in-a-row, but McCoist found himself in and out of the first team for the first three of those successes.
In September 1987 McCoist was convicted of assault and fined £150 at Hamilton Sheriff Court. This followed an attack on a 19-year-old outside an East Kilbride nightclub in the early hours of 5 December 1986. A verdict of not proven was returned against Ted McMinn and Iain Durrant in relation to the incident. McCoist and Durrant were each fined £1500 by Rangers.
When Walter Smith took over from Souness, McCoist returned to the fore and won both Players' Player of the Year and the Sportswriters' award after scoring 34 goals in season 1991–92 as Rangers completed a domestic double. Those goals won him the European Golden Boot – the first time a Scot had won the award – and he repeated that feat a year later. That despite breaking his leg against Portugal playing for Scotland in April and missing the last seven matches of the season.
His appearances were limited over the following two seasons as a result of niggling injuries though, in typical fashion, he came off the bench to score an overhead kick to win the 1993 League Cup final against Hibernian. He played more regularly in the 1995–96 season, scoring 16 goals before netting a spectacular long-range drive at UEFA Euro 1996 for Scotland against Switzerland. His last appearance in a Rangers jersey came in the 1998 Scottish Cup Final when he scored in a 2–1 defeat by Heart of Midlothian.
At Rangers, McCoist became the club's record goalscorer, netting 355 goals. In addition to this, McCoist holds the Rangers records for number of league goals scored, number of Scottish League Cup goals scored and the most goals scored by a player in European competitions with 251, 54 and 21 respectively. McCoist is also third in the all-time appearance table for Rangers, having made 581 appearances for the club.
McCoist finished his career at Kilmarnock, where he spent three seasons after leaving Rangers in 1998. He retired from playing on 20 May 2001 at the age of 38, after playing 50 minutes of a league win at home to Celtic.
McCoist appeared 10 times for the Scotland national under-18 football team. He made his debut in a European Under-18 Championship qualifier against Iceland netting the only goal of the game after 19 minutes. He followed this up by scoring in the return leg, a 3–1 victory which secured Scotland's qualification for the following summer's European Under-18 Championships.
He found the net again in his third appearance, a 3–1 victory over Northern Ireland. His next three appearances came in the prestigious Monaco Youth Tournament, a 1–0 defeat to West Germany, a 2–0 victory over Switzerland and a 1–1 draw with France taking his tally to five goals in six appearances.
McCoist was then selected for Scotland's semi-professional side for a four team tournament in the Netherlands however he failed to make an appearance.
At the European Under-18 Finals Scotland found themselves in a group with Austria, Spain and defending Under-18 Champions England. McCoist started all three games, as Scotland defeated both Austria and England 1–0 with McCoist netting the winner against the Auld Enemy meaning the final group game against the Spanish would decide the group. Again McCoist scored, a superb free-kick in a 1–1 draw. Unfortunately this result saw Scotland eliminated on goal difference.
McCoist made his Scotland debut on 29 April 1986, in a 0–0 friendly match against Netherlands.
McCoist started just one game at the 1990 World Cup in Italy after being an integral part of the qualification bid.
He captained Scotland once, against Australia on 27 March 1996. McCoist went on to score the winner in a 1–0 win at Hampden Park after 55 minutes. He is Scotland's fifth-highest scorer, with 19 goals.
McCoist joined the Scotland coaching staff under his former manager at Rangers, Walter Smith in 2004. He turned down the managerial position at Inverness Caledonian Thistle in 2006 as he wanted a job nearer his Glasgow home.
Smith's assistant (2007–11)
McCoist returned to Rangers as an assistant manager to Walter Smith in January 2007. After Rangers' victory over Queen of the South in the 2008 Scottish Cup Final, Smith revealed that McCoist had been in charge of the team for the entire cup campaign. On 22 February 2011 he was announced as the new Rangers manager, with effect from June 2011.
McCoist's first competitive game in charge of Rangers came on 23 July 2011, a 1–1 draw at home to Hearts on the opening day of the 2011–12 SPL. After the game McCoist complained to BBC Scotland about a report that he argued misrepresented his view on violence after Old Firm derbies and the cost of policing the matches. The BBC stood by the report but upheld the complaint about the way the piece had been edited. On Tuesday 26 July 2011, the BBC issued an apology to McCoist and he, in turn, dropped his ban on speaking to them. In April 2011, McCoist had called for Rangers supporters who sung offensive chants to be arrested.
McCoist took charge of his first European game on 26 July 2011 at home to Swedish side Malmö FF in the first leg of a UEFA Champions League third round qualifier, losing 1–0 to suffer his first defeat as Rangers manager. His first win came on 30 July, away to St Johnstone with a 2–0 scoreline, goals coming from Nikica Jelavić and Steven Naismith. McCoist's first Champions League campaign ended at the first hurdle after drawing 1–1 away to Malmo in the Third qualifying round second leg, losing 2–1 on aggregate and having Madjid Bougherra and Steven Whittaker sent off. Despite dropping into the Europa League, McCoist's first European campaign as Rangers manager ended early after another defeat over two legs in the play-off round by NK Maribor.
McCoist made a promising start to his first SPL campaign as manager, with Rangers topping the SPL after the first five fixtures and conceding only one goal. His first Old Firm match as manager was a 4–2 win over Celtic at Ibrox, but his side were shocked by First Division Falkirk in the League Cup with 3–2 loss a few days later. McCoist suffered a fourth cup competition exit of the season on 5 February 2012, in a 2–0 defeat at home to Dundee Utd in the Scottish Cup fifth round.
Despite being within four points of Celtic at the top of the table in February, having been fifteen points clear of their arch rivals at one stage, Rangers' SPL title challenge was virtually ended after the club entered administration on 14 February 2012 and was docked ten points as a consequence. McCoist was able to see out the season with Rangers finishing in second place despite the points deduction. His popularity increased with Rangers fans after passionately committing his future to the club in the middle of financial crisis.
Following the rejection of a company voluntary arrangement by HM Revenue & Customs, the business and assets of Rangers were sold to a consortium led by Charles Green. During this process there was heavy press speculation that McCoist would leave the club, but he decided to stay after talks with Green. McCoist then worked alongside Green as the club were placed in the Scottish Third Division.
Rangers won the Third Division championship and promotion to the third tier. Rangers exited the Scottish Challenge Cup by losing to Queen of the South in a penalty shootout. They defeated Motherwell in the League Cup, but lost 3–0 to Inverness in the quarter final at Ibrox. Rangers also suffered a 3–0 defeat in the Scottish Cup, against Dundee United at Tannadice.
Rangers won the Scottish League One championship and promotion to the second tier, as they became the first Rangers side in 115 years to go an entire league season unbeaten. They also progressed to the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup, but lost 3–1 to Dundee United at Ibrox. Rangers reached the 2014 Scottish Challenge Cup Final, but lost 1–0 after extra time to Raith Rovers at Easter Road. They suffered a first round defeat in the Scottish League Cup at Forfar Athletic.
Rangers fell behind Hearts in the 2014–15 Scottish Championship, as they lost 2–1 at home and 2–0 away to the Edinburgh club. Rangers progressed to the semi-finals of the 2014–15 Scottish League Cup, but suffered an embarrassing defeat in the 2014–15 Scottish Challenge Cup against Alloa Athletic. McCoist submitted formal notice of his intention to resign as manager in December 2014 and began serving a 12-month notice period. Later in December, McCoist left his position with Rangers and was placed on gardening leave. This continued until September 2015, when McCoist and Rangers agreed to terminate his contract.
|Club performance||League||National Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|Scotland||League||Scottish Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|1978–79||St Johnstone||First Division||4||0||0||0||0||0||–||4||0|
|England||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|Scotland||League||Scottish Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
- Scotland score listed first, score column indicates score after each McCoist goal.
|1||9 September 1987||Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland||7||Hungary||1–0||2–0||Friendly|
|3||14 October 1987||8||Belgium||1–0||2–0||UEFA Euro 1988 qualifying|
|4||26 April 1989||15||Cyprus||2–1||2–1||1990 FIFA World Cup qualification|
|5||15 November 1989||19||Norway||1–0||1–1|
|6||16 May 1990||Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen, Scotland||21||Egypt||1–2||1–3||Friendly|
|7||12 September 1990||Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland||27||Romania||2–1||2–1||UEFA Euro 1992 qualifying|
|8||14 November 1990||Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia, Bulgaria||29||Bulgaria||1–0||1–1|
|9||11 September 1991||Wankdorf Stadion, Bern, Switzerland||32||Switzerland||2–2||2–2|
|10||13 November 1991||Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland||33||San Marino||4–0||4–0|
|11||19 February 1992||34||Northern Ireland||1–0||1–0||Friendly|
|12||20 May 1992||Varsity Stadium, Toronto, Ontario, Canada||37||Canada||2–1||3–1|
|13||9 September 1992||Wankdorf Stadion, Bern, Switzerland||42||Switzerland||1–1||1–3||1994 FIFA World Cup qualification|
|14||17 February 1983||Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow, Scotland||45||Malta||1–0||3–0|
|16||16 August 1995||Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland||47||Greece||1–0||1–0||UEFA Euro 1996 qualifying|
|17||15 November 1995||49||San Marino||3–0||5–0|
|18||27 March 1996||50||Australia||1–0||1–0||Friendly|
|19||18 June 1996||Villa Park, Birmingham, England||54||Switzerland||1–0||1–0||UEFA Euro 1996|
- As of 24 December 2014
|Rangers||1 June 2011||21 December 2014||164||119||22||23||72.56|
List of seasons
- Cup = Scottish Cup
- LC = League Cup
- CC = Challenge Cup
- UCL = UEFA Champions League
- UEL = UEFA Cup / UEFA Europa League
|Champions||Runners-up||Third / SF||Promoted||Unfinished|
- Scottish Premier Division (9): 1986–87, 1988–89, 1989–90, 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1996–97
- Scottish Cup (3): 1991–92, 1992–93, 1995–96
- Scottish League Cup (9): 1983–84, 1984–85, 1986–87, 1987–88, 1988–89, 1990–91, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1996–97
- Scottish League One (1): 2013–14 (third tier)
- Scottish Third Division (1): 2012–13 (fourth tier)
- European Golden Shoe (2): 1992, 1993
- 1987–88 European Cup joint top scorer
- Ballon d'Or: 1987 (21st place)
- SFWA Footballer of the Year (1): 1991–92
- SPFA Players' Player of the Year (1): 1991–92
- Scottish Premier League Manager of the Month (1): September 2011
- Scottish League Two Manager of the Month (1): December 2012
- Scottish League One Manager of the Month (2): September 2013, January 2014
- Scotland national football team roll of honour : 1996
- José Luis, Pierrend (26 March 2005). "European Footballer of the Year ("Ballon d'Or") 1987". RSSSF. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
Career outside football
McCoist is also known for his television work. He was a team captain on the BBC's A Question of Sport from 1996 to 2007, making a record 363 appearances on the show. He also co-presented a late night chat show McCoist and MacAulay for BBC Scotland from 1998 to 1999 alongside comedian Fred MacAulay. In 2000, McCoist also starred in the film A Shot at Glory alongside Robert Duvall, playing Jackie McQuillan, a fictional legendary ex-Celtic player.
McCoist was also a regular pundit for ITV Sport's football coverage. McCoist, along with John Motson, are ex-commentators for the FIFA video games series by EA Sports. They were replaced by Clive Tyldesley and Andy Gray for FIFA 2006 but returned with Motson for FIFA Manager 08. In 2001, McCoist won Sports Presenter of the Year at the TRIC Awards.
In May 2006, he was part of the historic first European Selection, led by Terry Venables, which saw its debut game in Eindhoven in the first EFPA match-up against a Dutch selection of all-time greats.
In 2010, he stood alongside English football commentator Martin Tyler as co-commentator for matches such as Germany vs Australia in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa for television cable sports network ESPN.
On 10 June 1994, McCoist was awarded an MBE for services to football. He was inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame in 2007 and is also a member of the Scottish Football Hall of Fame. McCoist was inducted into the Scotland national football team roll of honour in March 1996, when he was awarded his 50th international cap.