Wolves legend Kenny Hibbit exclusive: Amazing O'Neil & Neto; making a Man Utd legend blush

Tribal Football
Wolves legend Kenny Hibbit exclusive: Amazing O'Neil & Neto; making a Man Utd legend blush
Wolves legend Kenny Hibbit exclusive: Amazing O'Neil & Neto; making a Man Utd legend blush
Wolves legend Kenny Hibbit exclusive: Amazing O'Neil & Neto; making a Man Utd legend blushFlashscore
With Wolves, Hibbitt is officially a club legend. The former midfielder played over 500 games for the Old Gold and was inducted into the club's Hall of Fame in 2011. Now 73, Hibbitt would go onto manage Walsall and Cardiff City, where he also had a spell as director of football. Later in his career, Hibbitt took on a position with the Premier League, where he would review the performances of top-flight referees.

In this wide-ranging Q&A, Hibbitt takes Tribalfootball.com through his career - both on the pitch and in the dugout. Kenny discusses the greats he played with and against - including two legends of Manchester United - and also offers us his opinion on Gary O'Neil and the progress Wolves are making this season.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Kenny, take us back to 1969 and your debut with Wolves...

I was very fortunate to break into the first team at 19 years old, I came from a small team and started to play for a big team. I was very fortunate to make my (full) debut against Chelsea in 1971 - and I scored in that game.

"My career took off from there, I had very good players around me. I remember in 1972 when we played Tottenham in the UEFA Cup final and that was an amazing time for me to play in Europe

against some of the biggest teams in football. In 1974 my dream came true because I played in a League Cup final at Wembley and again I scored the first goal. That was the greatest moment in my career because my dream came true and my Mum was there in the stand watching me. So yeah it was a great time for me."

You played in one of the great Wolves eras, that must have been some team?

All the players I played with at Wolves were special players for me. But I would say three names stood out: Andy Gray, John Richards and Willie Carr. They were all the players I had a closer relationship with and helped me a lot during my time at Wolves. I was very fortunate to play with these players.

"Regarding opponents, George Best was the best player I have played against. Also my favourite player growing up that I played against was Bobby Charlton. When I was inducted into the Hall of Fame, Bobby sent me a letter signed by him for the occasion because when working for Sky TV as a pundit with him, when I was asked a question about who my favourite player as

a kid was I would say his name and he would become all blushy, red faced! It was funny seeing him being embarrassed by my answer."

After hanging up the boots, you went into coaching. Was management always the ambition?

"I always wanted to be a manager and after some experiences as an assistant coach I got the job at Walsall. We got into the play-offs (Division 3) but we didn't have any money to spend and it was very difficult for me during those years at the club.

"Then I had a break and after Cardiff City called me, I went there. I stayed four years there and took them into the play-offs but lost. It was a success for me, but still very difficult because in both clubs I didn't have money to spend, but I did my best and I was obligated to sell my good players for the club to survive. But I enjoyed every minute of it.

"But after that, I started to work for the PGMOL, which is the Professional Game Match Officials, and started to assess the top referees in the Premier League. I worked there for 17 years and despite being retired I am still very close to them."

As a Wolves legend, what have you made of the work of Gary O'Neil this season?

I think they have done a great job until now with the new manager that took over in the summer. At the beginning of the season, the club sold some important players and I was very disappointed about it and also for the new manager who'd just come in. I thought we would be in the relegation battle and it would be very tough for him.

"But Gary has done an amazing job, the players have responded well and I would say we can finish in the top 10 this season.

"Also, I hope the club will let the manager strengthen the squad next season. I love watching them now, they have a great pace and (Pedro) Neto is my favourite player."

So what about this season's Premier League overall?

"In the Premier League, every team can beat each other, because the standard is very very high. Manchester City for me is very consistent, you've got Arsenal this season scoring lots of lots of goals, and Liverpool is always there fighting until the end. It will be a great battle between them until the end.

"If I had to pick a team for the title I would go for City."

Of course, this is a Euros year. What have you made of England these past few years?

"Gareth (Southgate) didn't do particularly well at the league level, but I think he has got something special for the international levels. He has done well in these years as a coach and he has picked always the right player for the team. We still have a long way to go but I think we are moving in the right direction. In the World Cup, we didn't achieve what we deserved because I think we played very well.

"I think probably this is his last chance as the coach of the national team. We need to win something because we haven't won for a long time now and this is not right for a national team like England."

So Kenny, a tip for Germany?

"It will be a difficult tournament because there are several strong teams and every time in every Euros or World Cup there will also be a surprise team. For me, anybody can win it and there are great players everywhere in all the teams. In my opinion, there is no particular team which is stronger than the other. All have the chance to reach the end and to win

it."