Born: Withernsea, 1960 (Age 54) Playing Career: A left-footer who could play in a variety of positions, Gray began his career as a trainee at Nottingham For est, coming through the ranks alongside Steve Hodge and Colin Walsh. He made 49 appearances for the Reds, scoring thr ee goals before leaving
to join Division Two Barnsley in 1984. Gray spent four years at Oakwell, scoring 23 goals and becoming captain before being signed by Aston Villa for £40,000. There, he
won promotion from the Second Division in 1989 and finished second
in the First Division in 1990. He was also part of the side that beat Inter Milan at Villa Park in the UEFA Cup. After 106 games for the Villa, he joined Southampton for £200,000
in 1991. But Gray would play just 12 times for the Saints, rupturing his Achilles tendon in an FA Cup victory over Bolton and r etiring aged
31. Managerial Career: Gray worked his way through the backroom positions at Southampton, eventually . becoming first-team coach
to Dave Jones in 1998. He r etained his post when Glenn Hoddle arrived in 2000 and a year later became car etaker manager, failing to win
any of his first seven games but sealing a full-time contract with victories against Arsenal and Manchester United in the final two games of
the 2000-01 season. Sacked after eight games of the following campaign, Gray worked as a coach at Wolves, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa (Taking a spell as caretaker at Wolves and Villa) before becoming manager of Northampton in 2007. Replacing John Gorman, he oversaw r elegation from League One
in 2008 and was sacked six months later with the Cobblers lying 16th
in League Two. After further coaching stints at Bur nley and Portsmouth, he joined Sheffield Wednesday in 2013, becoming manager later that year.
Ba dispiriting spell as caretaker manager of Wolves and 18 months at Northampton that brought only relegation, the perception hardened.
Yet 13 years on from that chastening experience, Gray isn’t just back – he is the toast of Hillsborough.
When the 54-year-old took over from Dave Jones in December, the Owls had won just one of their first 17 games and sat second bottom of the Championship, six points shy of safety. Today, they sit in blissful mid-table mediocrity, the management skills that Gray supposedly lacked now very much in evidence.
“As a player, having a manager like Stuart is unbelievable,” said Leon Best, the striker on loan from Blackburn. “He knows what he wants and we know if we do it we’ll win games. He has you going out there with confidence and you know no matter what you do he has your back.”
Best’s thoughts were echoed by Chris Maguire. “I don’t mind where I play because at the moment I’m enjoying my football,” he said last month. “And a lot of that is down to Stuart. He’s given me so much belief and confidence.”
Gray’s resilience should perhaps come as no surprise. As a player, he was released by Nottingham Forest at the age of 23, unable to cement a