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Fans Catch Wolves Manager Gary O’Neill in an Episode of The Office

Fans Catch Wolves Manager Gary O’Neill in an Episode of The Office

Gary O’Neil has made his claim for being one of the most promising up-and-coming Premier League managers with his admirable work at Wolves. At 40, he is only a year older than the likes of Thiago Silva and Cristiano Ronaldo. However, unlike them, he opted to cut his playing career relatively short – retiring at the age of 36 – to focus on his coaching dream.

O’Neil is helping Wolves compete for a place in the top half of the Premier League again. If luck goes their way, the Wanderers might even snatch a spot in the UEFA Europa Conference League next season. With an impressive 45.71% win rate in his first season at the club, the 40-year-old is turning heads towards his work. This also comes after he saved Bournemouth from relegation last season, only to be surprisingly sacked soon after.

The Englishman’s ability to help Wolves punch above their weight and produce some thrilling attacking football is starting to turn heads. Manchester United are now reportedly aiming to bring him in as their coaching set-up. The average Premier League fan, probably unaware of O’Neil’s playing career, is now aware of his coaching prowess.

The 40-year-old actually had quite a diverse football career. It’s one of his moments as a professional player that has even landed him in an episode of The Office.

For those unknowing, The Office is a famous US sitcom show. It’s a mockumentary of how the average American office works, featuring some hilarious characters including the main one ‘Michael Scott’ (brilliantly portrayed by Steve Carrell) – the boss of Dunder Mifflin.  

This show is actually inspired from the UK version of The Office which features Ricky Gervais. The US version of The Office is much more popular because of the diverse range of hilarious characters. One such character that is slowly introduced in it is Andy Bernard, who is a bit of an awkward know-it-all geek. Well, it turns out that Bernard actually gave a platform for Gary O’Neill to appear in one of the episodes of The Office.

This happened in the fifth season when the character of Bernard is being questioned by Charles Miner, who takes over Dunder Mifflin and often grills Andy. It turns out that in one shot, Andy is scrolling through a slideshow of pictures of footballers on his computer and ends up giving the limelight to O’Neil.

In this situation, the 40-year-old manager was then a professional footballer for Middlesbrough. He played a hard-working midfielder for the club and if you zoom in, it’s evident that he’s in a wall trying to defend a Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick!

This particular shot was taken in a Premier League match between Manchester United and Middlesbrough at Old Trafford in the 2008/09 season. The Red Devils came away as 1-0 winners, but Ronaldo did not score. Standing alongside O’Neil in this wall are his teammates Chris Riggott, Jeremie Aliadiere, David Wheater and Matthew Bates.

O’Neil played for Middlesbrough from 2007-2011, making over 100 appearances in the Premier League and scoring 10 goals. He ended up facing Ronaldo and Manchester United quite often in that period and played under now-England manager Gareth Southgate, who used to manage Boro from 2006-2009.

Despite never playing for a ‘major’ Premier League club, O’Neil still notched up 214 appearances in the division as a player. He played for the likes of Boro, West Ham United, Norwich City and childhood club Portsmouth and gaining all the experience clearly benefitted him. The 40-year-old had years of awareness of what it takes to succeed in the Premier League and is using all his experience to improve the teams he coaches.

O’Neil’s playing career is almost an afterthought for many. But he’d probably be surprisingly happy that at least one moment of his time as a footballer is widely remembered through a show that holds a prominent position in pop culture history.