Spencer Justin Prior (born 22 April 1971) is an English former footballer. He was a central defender who retired at the end of the 2006–07 season, finishing his career with hometown club Southend United, where he began his career. He is the current manager of the Thailand women's football team.
Prior playing for Manly United in 2009
|Full name||Spencer Justin Prior|
|Date of birth||22 April 1971|
|Place of birth||Southend, England|
|Height||1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)|
|Playing position||Central defender|
|Thailand women (manager)|
|2011–2013||Australia women (asst. manager)|
|2012–2013||Australia U20 women|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Prior made 135 league appearances in his first spell with Southend. His solid performances in the centre of the Shrimpers defence attracted the attention of other clubs and in the summer of 1993 both Norwich and Wolverhampton Wanderers made moves to sign him. He opted for Norwich because they had qualified to play in Europe for the 1993–94 season and they paid Southend a fee of £300,000 for his services. In his first season at Carrow Road he played in the historic 2–1 win at Bayern Munich and the 1–0 defeat at Inter Milan that saw City eliminated from the UEFA Cup.
During his first two seasons with Norwich, Prior found it difficult to establish himself as a first team regular. After the club had been relegated from the Premiership in 1995, however, Prior became a regular selection under the management firstly of Martin O'Neill and then Gary Megson. It was a difficult season for Norwich which was played out against weekly demonstrations at chairman Robert Chase. Prior ended the season by being voted Norwich City player of the year. In August 1996, Leicester paid £600,000 for him. He had played 89 games for Norwich.
In his first season at Leicester, Prior got a League Cup winner's medal as the Foxes beat Middlesbrough in a replayed final. Prior moved to Derby in 1998 but did not settle there, though did manage to score the winner in a game against Sheffield Wednesday. A number of clubs showed an interest in him before Manchester City signed him shortly before the transfer deadline in the 1999–00 season. City had signed him to replace the injured Andy Morrison as they had only been able to field two central defenders (Gerard Wiekens and Richard Jobson) for most of the season. His impact on the team was immediate, his goals earning City numerous victories and ultimately promotion. As City arrived in the Premiership Prior found his first team opportunities limited as the then City manager, Joe Royle, bought Steve Howey, Richard Dunne and Paul Ritchie, while Andy Morrison also returned from his lengthy injury.
Thus, Prior moved to Cardiff City for a £700,000 fee. His three-year stint at Ninian Park was a difficult one and he failed to win over the City supporters. Indeed, even before he stepped onto the pitch as a substitute in one game, he was met with a chorus of boos from the Cardiff fans. During his time he consistentley complained about the abuse he received from fans. In September 2006, reflecting on his time at the club, he suggested he was targeted by the boo boys because he was English despite the fact he was playing with other English players who were considered fan favourites, prompting fury from many Bluebirds supporters.
After retiring from football, Prior moved to Australia and is now a football analyst for Fox Sports Australia and owns Love Football, an equipment retailer. He also coaches a number of teams at Sydney Grammar School, and was the head coach at Mosman Football Club in 2007 and 2008, leading a significant improvement in its coaching capabilities.
In December 2008, A-League club Newcastle Jets announced they had signed the 37-year-old Prior for the remainder of the 2008–2009 season. 1 January 2011 confirmed as assistant head coach of the Matildas, assistant to Tom Sermanni.
In 2016 the signed a two-year contract with the Thailand women's national team.
With Leicester City
- League Cup winner: 1
With Cardiff City
- Football League Division Two play-off winner: 1
- FAW Premier Cup winner: 1
- Andrews, Phil (30 January 1999). "Prior's rare prize". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
- "Prior moves to Cardiff" BBC Sport Retrieved on 7 October 2007
- "Prior blasts Bluebirds fans" BBC Sport Retrieved on 7 October 2007
- "Prior's Ninian Park abuse". Archived from the original on 8 February 2007. Retrieved 28 September 2006.
- "Bluebirds release Prior" BBC Sport Retrieved on 7 October 2007
- "Spencer Prior joins Newcastle Jets". Sydney Morning Herald. 30 December 2008. Archived from the original on 13 October 2009. Retrieved 6 January 2009.