Born: Luton, 1958 (Age 56) 1972-86: Signed by Cambridge at 15, Blackwell was released without playing a game and dropped into Non-League, playing for the likes of Bedford, Barton and Barnet before joining Boston United in 1980. He spent the next six years with the Pilgrims, making 227 appearances and saving a penalty at Wembley in an FA Trophy final defeat to Wealdstone.
Signed by Neil Warnock for Scarborough in 1986, Blackwell won the Conference in his first season and the following year reached the Division Four play-offs. After 68 appearances, he left to join Notts County for £15,000 in 1989 and would spend the remaining 11 years of his career as a player-coach under Warnock, first at County, then at Torquay, Huddersfield, Plymouth and Sheffield United.
After four years as assistant to Warnock, Blackwell left to become No.2 to Peter Reid at ailing Leeds. Following Reid’s dismissal and Leeds’ relegation from the Premier League, Blackwell was named manager. Despite terrible financial problems and a complete squad overhaul, he kept Leeds in the Championship in 2004-05 and then finished third the following season, eventually losing 3-0 to Watford in the play-off final. After a string of poor results, he was sacked in September 2006. 2006-10: After a brief spell at crisis-hit Luton, Blackwell was named manager of Sheffield United in February 2008 and rescued a ninth place finish in the Championship. The following season his side finished third but he again fell at the final hurdle with a narrow 1-0 defeat to Burnley in the play-off final. As at Leeds, Blackwell was dismissed after a poor start to the following season. 2010-present: Blackwell returned with League One strugglers Bury in 2012 but was relegated amid crippling financial problems and left in October 2013. He has since rejoined Warnock as a coach at Crystal Palace.