John Sillett has died at the age of 85, his family have announced. Sillett managed Coventry between 1986 and 1990 and led the club to FA Cup glory in 1987 when Tottenham were beaten 3-2 in a memorable Wembley final.
A statement from the Sillett family read: “Obviously the family are really saddened by Dad’s passing but we are all so proud of him and what he achieved … His ability to spot things tactically, change them during a game and enhance the abilities of players was top class, the respect he had from top people in the game and the kind words we have already received already underline the high regard in which he was held by the football world.
“Dad will be remembered for his FA Cup win but he also guided Coventry and Hereford to their highest league positions as well as taking Coventry to a League Cup semi-final. He had the ability to galvanise and gel teams – a skill quite rare.”
The Southampton-born Sillett was a full-back who began his career at Chelsea in 1954 and went on to play more than 100 games for the club, winning the First Division title in 1954-55. He also played for Coventry, helping them to the Third Division title in 1963–64, and Plymouth before moving into coaching at Bristol City, then management at Hereford.
Sillett won the Third Division with Hereford before joining the coaching staff at Coventry, where he later became manager. As well as leading Coventry to the only major honour in their 138-year history, he achieved a seventh-placed finish and twice finished 10th.
He returned to Hereford for a second spell between 1991 and 1992 and scouted for England during Sven-Göran Eriksson’s time in charge.
The chairman of the League Managers Association, Howard Wilkinson, said: “He was a genuine, well-meaning gentleman, greatly admired throughout football for his honesty and professionalism. Football has lost a great servant and our thoughts and condolences are with John’s family and friends at such a sad time.”