The PFA is deeply saddened by the passing of John Hollins MBE. Hollins had an illustrious career both on and off the field, leaving a lasting mark on the fans and clubs he represented.
Hollins began his journey in Guildford, Surrey, growing up in a family deeply connected to football. With a father, grandfather, and three brothers who were all professional footballers, it was no surprise that Hollins would follow in their footsteps.
His career took off when he joined Chelsea as a youth player. In September 1963, aged 17, Hollins made his debut for the Blues against Swindon Town. Known for his dedicated attitude and exceptional skills as a midfielder, he quickly became a regular and would eventually become club captain. Hollins amassed 592 appearances in his first spell at Chelsea, scoring 69 goals.
He was an integral part of the successful Chelsea sides of the mid-1960s and early 1970s, including the FA Cup final win over Leeds United in 1970, and the Blues’ triumph in the Cup Winners' Cup in Athens against Real Madrid the following year.
Hollins also made a notable mark at QPR after joining the club in 1975. In his four seasons at Loftus Road, he played 183 matches and narrowly missed out on winning the First Division title, finishing just one point behind Liverpool.
In a surprising move, Hollins transferred to Arsenal in 1979, initially as a cover player. However, he quickly became a regular in the Arsenal side, showcasing his versatility by playing as a defender rather than a midfielder. Hollins played 172 matches for Arsenal, scoring 13 goals. He played in the Cup Winners' Cup final in 1980, with Arsenal narrowly missing out on victory.
True to his roots, Hollins returned to Chelsea in 1983, joining the club on a free transfer. He played a pivotal role in Chelsea's promotion back to the First Division in the 1983-84 season, featuring in 30 matches before retiring at the end of that season. Throughout his career, Hollins amassed a hugely impressive 714 First Division appearances.
Hollins' contributions to football extended beyond his playing days. Following his retirement, he embarked on a managerial career, starting with Chelsea. Initially appointed as a coach, he later became the first-team manager. Throughout his managerial career, Hollins held positions at various clubs, including Swansea City, Rochdale, and Stockport County.
Following his retirement from managerial positions, he continued to contribute to football as a pundit for BBC Radio Five Live, sharing his insights and expertise with fans across the nation.
Everyone at the PFA sends our condolences to John’s family and friends at this sad time.