David Kelly was a highly prolific goalscorer, playing for a number of major clubs in England, Scotland and N. Ireland in a 19 year professional career, spanning 3 decades!
(David Kelly is pictured above, playing for the Wolverhampton Wanderers Home team in 2008)
“Ned” began his much travelled career with Wallsall in 1983, making over 150 appearances and scoring over 60 goals in his 5 seasons with the Saddlers. His prolific form earned him a £600,000 move to top Division club West Ham United, but the club were to be relegated in his first season and despite helping the Hammers to the verge of the play-offs in 1989-90 he was transferred to Leicester City after just two seasons at The Boleyn Ground.
His goals at Filbert Street helped the club maintain their Second Division status in 1991 and half way through the 91-92 season he was signed by Ossie Ardiles for Newcastle United who were struggling in the same division. Kelly’s goals helped the Magpies narrowly avoid relegation that season, but with Kevin Keegan at the helm Kelly top scored with 25 league goals as the North East giants were promoted to the recently renamed Premier League. However with new signing Andy Cole in electrifying form and hometown hero Peter Beardsley’s return imminent, Kelly was transferred to Wolverhampton Wanderers for £750,000.
Kelly continued to score freely at Molineux but his goals weren’t enough to get the club promoted to the top flight, with Wolves finishing 8th in 1993-94 and losing out in the play-off semi finals in 1994-95. The increasingly nomadic Kelly was on the move again after only 2 seasons in the Black Country, with division rivals Sunderland paying just under a million pounds for his services. The club had immediate success, gaining promotion to the Premier League in Kelly’s debut season, however for the 1st time in his career the goals had dried up and he was on the move again in 97.
Tranmere Rovers, managed by fellow Republic of Ireland striker John Aldridge, were to become Kelly’s 7th pro club and Kelly continued to chip in with some important goals. With the highlight of Kelly’s 3 seasons at Prenton Park coming in 2000, when Rovers made it all the way to Wembley for an appearance in the Worthington Cup Final, however Kelly’s late left footed equaliser wasn’t enough to prevent them losing out 2-1 to Martin O’Neill’s Leicester City.
Kelly was on the move soon after and following short spells at Sheffield United, Motherwell and Mansfield Town he ended his career in style winning the 2002 FAI Cup with Derry City in his final game as a player.
Although born in Birmingham, Kelly was capped for the Republic of Ireland and he maintained his excellent scoring record at International level as well, scoring 9 times in his 26 appearances and making the squads for his adopted country at Euro 88 as well as the 1990 and 1994 World Cups.
Since retiring from playing, Kelly has had extensive coaching experience, 1st as Assistant Manager at Tranmere Rovers and then from 2004-10 he has teamed up with Billy Davies at Preston North End, Derby County and Nottingham Forest, with his current role being Assistant Manager at The City Ground.
We were delighted to hear that David Kelly had agreed to be our 1st ever Wolverhampton Wanderers Club Ambassador in October 2010. His irrepressible personality and enthusiasm for the game has always been evident in his appearances at Molineux and his half-time team-talks have become the thing of Football Aid legend!!