Stoke City Football Club’s meteoric rise to the top flight of English football has come under the leadership of Manager Tony Pulis – who is at the helm for a second Premier League season this year.
It is every footballer’s dream to reach the sport’s pinnacle and Tony is no exception, having come from a working class background to secure his place in both The Potters’ history books and the fans’ hearts.
He said: “I always wanted to play and manage at the highest level, and it’s really nice to be in a position to say that I’m in the top league.
“The season we got promoted was amazing and that will stick with me forever as a fantastic achievement. And this last year, while I’ve been manager at Stoke, the support we’ve had from the fans was unbelievable.”
The fame and glory that comes with Premier League football, however, is a far cry from where he started, playing for his school team in Newport, South Wales.
He said: “When I was growing up, there were eight of us living in a three bedroom house. I started playing football at an early age, when I got picked for the school team, and from there I played for the town and then the county. Football has always been a big part of my life.”
Tony’s senior career started in 1975, when he played for Bristol Rovers as a teenager. By the age of 21 he had acquired all his coaching badges.
His first coaching role came when he was 32 years old, at Bournemouth, where he later took over as manager after Harry Redknapp moved to West Ham.
“I’ve always worked very hard and maximised the resources I’ve had,” said Tony, whose other managerial posts saw him bring a struggling Gillingham side to the brink of the First Division, as well as stints at Bristol City and Portsmouth.
He was first appointed manager at Stoke City in 2002 and – barring a year out at Plymouth Argyle before returning to The Potters – guided them to the Premiership in the 2007-08 season.
“I do think the club will push on and do well this season,” he said, “but whatever we do we mustn’t get complacent; we have to strive and push in the Premiership for the next three years.”
Tony, took time out from the busy football season in 2009 to show his support for the Donna Louise Trust, when he took part in the London Marathon to raise money.
Also during his time as Stoke City boss, Tony has shown a great deal of support to Staffordshire University, particularly the sports and broadcast journalism students, who have been invited to matches, had access to the press box and been granted post match interviews and exclusive stories.
In 2013, Tony left Stoke City before joining Crystal Palace later the same year as Manager, and then going to West Brom (2015-2017) and Middlesbrough (2017-2019).
For his achievements as Stoke City FC’s manager, for being an inspirational role model and for the support he has shown the students, Staffordshire University bestow upon Tony Pulis the award of Honorary Doctor.