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Neil Whitworth

Personal information
Full nameNeil Alan Whitworth
Date of birth12 April 1972(age 44)
Place of birthInce-in-Makerfield, England
Height1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Playing positionCentre-back

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Neil Anthony Whitworth (born 12 April 1972) is an English former football defender. He spent the majority of his career at Kilmarnock, making 83 appearances and scoring 3 goals for the Scottish Premier League club.

Born in Ince-in-Makerfield, Wigan, to a former rugby league footballer, Whitworth began his career at Wigan Athletic as a trainee. He made his senior debut for Wigan on 10 February 1990 in a Third Division match against Leyton Orient; Wigan lost the match 2 0. Manchester United spotted Whitworth's potential and signed him for a fee of £45,000 in June 1990. His United debut came nine months later, when he played in a 1 1 draw away to Southampton. However, Whitworth did not play again for Manchester United and was shipped out on loan to four different clubs before he and Colin McKee were sold to Kilmarnock for a combined fee of £350,000 in September 1994.

Whitworth first went on loan to Preston North End for a month in January 1992, playing six games for the Lancashire club. He then went to Barnsley in February 1992 until the end of the season, making 11 appearances. He played out the 1992 93 season in the Manchester United reserve team, but went on another month-long loan to Rotherham United in October 1993, immediately followed by a month at Blackpool.

Whitworth was issued with the number 32 shirt when the FA Premier League introduced squad numbers for the 1993 94 season, although he never took to the field in that shirt.

In September 1994, Whitworth was sold on to Kilmarnock, where he made 83 appearances in four years, more than at any other club in his 15-year career. In 1997, Whitworth suffered a nasty bout of tuberculosis, and struggled to hold down a first-team place after his recovery. Towards the end of the 1997 98 season, he moved back to his home-town club, Wigan, on loan. Whitworth was released from his Kilmarnock contract at the end of May 1998, and immediately signed by Hull City. He stayed at Boothferry Park for two seasons, but only made 28 appearances in that time, before moving on to Exeter City. He stayed at Exeter for three years, making a total of 62 appearances. He was signed by Southport in August 2003, and formed a vital part of their defensive unit, despite attracting criticism from some quarters for his lack of aerial prowess. He was sent on a month's loan to Radcliffe Borough, before returning to Southport. However, at the end of the 2003 04 season, Whitworth decided to call time on his professional career. He made a brief comeback in 2006, playing a few games for Fleetwood Town but it was short-lived, and he has not played a professional game of football since.

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