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Craig Hignett (born 12 January 1970), is an English former professional footballer who is currently the manager of National League club Hartlepool United. He started his career as a striker but later moved into midfield.
|Date of birth||12 January 1970|
|Place of birth||Whiston, Lancashire, England|
|Height||1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)|
|Playing position||Midfielder, Striker|
|Hartlepool United (manager)|
|2002||→ Coventry City (loan)||8||(2)|
|2004||→ Crewe Alexandra (loan)||15||(0)|
|2018||Hartlepool United (caretaker)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
After the club were relegated in his first season with Middlesbrough, he helped them back up two seasons later. In 1996–97 Hignett again suffered relegation with Middlesbrough and was part of the team that lost in the FA Cup final and League Cup final the same season. He had however made sure of a place in the club's history by scoring the first goal at the Riverside Stadium, their new ground, in a 2–0 win over Chelsea at the start of 1995–96 Season.
Hignett also took a pay cut to stay at the club at one point, in stark contrast to the many big-name signings Middlesbrough were bringing in at the time. In 1998 he left Middlesbrough to sign for Aberdeen on a free transfer, having made 194 appearances and 48 goals for Boro. His stay at Aberdeen was short lived, only lasting six months, before signing for Barnsley for £800,000 in 1999.
After suffering relegation from the Premiership, Barnsley were looking for a quick return to the top flight and Hignett's 20 goals in his second season at Oakwell helped them reach the play-off final of the 1999–2000 season. Hignett scored once in the final but Barnsley lost 4–2 to Ipswich Town. It was initially thought Hignett had scored twice but the other goal was eventually attributed to an own goal by Richard Wright after Hignett's shot rebounded off the crossbar and in off Wright.
Hignett left Barnsley in 2000 after 66 appearances and 35 goals for the club; he signed for Blackburn Rovers for a fee of £2.2 million. He helped Rovers regain their Premiership status and won a League Cup winners medal when Blackburn beat Tottenham Hotspur 2–1 in the 2002 final, with Hignett coming off the bench.
However, in the 2002–03 season he only played three league games and one UEFA Cup game; Hignett was sent on loan to Coventry City halfway through the season but suffered a hairline fracture of his leg at Bramall Lane on 28 December 2002 which ended his loan spell. After returning, he scored on the final day of the season which was to prove to be his last appearance for Blackburn Rovers. He played 68 times and scored 14 goals for Rovers before being released.
In 2003, he signed for Leicester City but struggled to get in the side, making only 15 appearances before going on loan back to Crewe Alexandra at the end of the 2003–04 season and playing another 15 games. He only scored once during his time at Leicester but it was a memorable goal: a crucial injury time equaliser against Arsenal.
On 22 March 2007, Hartlepool United signed Hignett on a short-term contract. Hignett had been training with the club and had taken part in Reserve Team fixtures prior to signing up permanently. He left the club in May 2007. He subsequently joined Billingham Synthonia, for whom he made four appearances during the 2008–09 season, scoring two goals.
As of April 2008 he was part of the Academy coaching staff at Middlesbrough. He was linked with the Darlington job after Colin Todd was sacked, he was again rumoured after Steve Staunton was sacked. In May 2013, Hignett became assistant manager at Hartlepool United alongside Colin Cooper.
Hignett left his role as assistant to then Hartlepool United boss Colin Cooper in March 2014 to join Aitor Karanka's revolution at Middlesbrough. When he left, Pools were ninth in League Two and only five points outside the play-offs. On 2 December 2014, Middlesbrough FC announced that Hignett had parted company with the club. The statement explained that, "Following discussions between Craig, Head Coach Aitor Karanka, and the club, all parties have agreed for Craig to leave his position with immediate effect."
Hignett was widely praised for having a hugely influential role in the upturns of Boro's fortunes, which has seen them challenging for promotion this season.
In February 2016, Hignett was appointed first-team manager of Hartlepool United following the departure of Ronnie Moore. His first game as Pools boss came in a 2-1 home win against Yeovil Town. Hartlepool finished the season in 16th position in League Two.
He was sacked on 15 January 2017 following a 1-0 defeat at Crawley Town following a poor run of form.
Hignett returned to Hartlepool in March 2018 as the club's Director of Football. Following the dismissal of Matthew Bates in November 2018, Hignett took temporary charge of the first team in addition to his role as director of football. Although former Luton boss Richard Money took charge in December 2018, he was later moved to a senior position before departing and Hignett was reinstated as first-team manager on 23 January 2019.
- As of match played 17 August 2019
|Hartlepool United||10 February 2016||15 January 2017||52||15||12||25||28.8|||
|Hartlepool United (caretaker)||28 November 2018||11 December 2018||2||1||0||1||50.0|
|Hartlepool United||23 January 2019||Present||21||7||6||8||33.3|
In June 2013, Craig Hignett joined former footballer Colin Cooper and Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling and 12 other intrepid explorers to climb the 5,895m summit of Africa's highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, to raise vital cash for the Finlay Cooper Fund in aid of children's charities.
- Football League First Division winner: 1994-95
- FA Cup runner-up: 1996–97
- League Cup runner-up: 1996–97
- Football League First Division runner-up: 1997-98
- "Crewe extend Hignett loan". BBC. 17 February 2004. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
- "'Teessider' Hignett more than happy to be home". The Northern Echo. 2 October 2004. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 26 January 2007.
- "Ipswich triumph at last". BBC Sport. 29 May 2000. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
- "Hignett denies Arsenal late on". BBC Sport. 4 December 2003. Retrieved 29 December 2009.
- "Signed up". Hartlepool United F.C. 22 March 2007. Archived from the original on 13 February 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2007.
- "A-Z of 'The Synners' 1945/46–2015/16". Billingham Synthonia. Archived from the original on 17 October 2014. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
- "MATCH PACK: Bolton Wanderers". mfc.co.uk. 18 April 2008. Archived from the original on 21 April 2008. Retrieved 18 April 2008.
- "Middlesbrough: Craig Hignett leaves Hartlepool United for Boro". 4 March 2014 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- "Favourite for Hartlepool United job Craig Hignett plans to think 'very carefully'". www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk.
- "Middlesbrough FC assistant head coach Craig Hignett parts company with the club - Middlesbrough FC". www.mfc.co.uk.
- Association, Press (10 February 2016). "Hartlepool appoint Craig Hignett as manager to replace Ronnie Moore" – via www.theguardian.com.
- Steel, Adam (13 February 2016). "Hartlepool 2 Yeovil 1: Craig Hignett off to a winning start". gazettelive.
- "Contracts Exchanged On Takeover Deal". www.hartlepoolunited.co.uk.
- "Chairman's Statement: Matthew Bates". www.hartlepoolunited.co.uk.
- "Club Statement: Reshuffle At Hartlepool United". Hartlepool United FC. 23 January 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
- Cryle, Ryan. "Former Aberdeen midfielder gets new role at Hartlepool United".
- "Managers: Craig Hignett". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
- "Sky's the limit in Jeff's fundraising goal - Media centre - Teesside University". www.tees.ac.uk.
- Craig Hignett at Soccerbase