Tony Pulis Speaks at the Oxford Union

He mentioned his great admiration for Napoleon

The Oxford Union has hosted many illustrious figures in its time.  Presidents, Prime Ministers, Mother Theresa, Desmond Tutu, Michael Jackson, Albert Einstein, Richard Dawkins, and Salmon Rushdie have all graced its chambers, to name but a few.  But on Monday night a new name was added to that list: Tony Pulis, manager of West Bromwich Albion Football Club.

The former Crystal Palace and Stoke City coach is perhaps best known for creating “ugly football” that is rather uninspiring to watch, but that hasn’t stopped him leading West Brom to a comfortable 8th place in the Premier League, with 12 wins in 34 matches.


At the Union, Pulis talked about the leaders which had impressed him in all walks of life.  He described Winston Churchill as a “great great leader” but was “more interested” in Napoleon, who grew up on an island without the help of an establishment.  Perhaps Pulis, who grew up in a “tough” but “fantastic community” in South Wales before he played for Bristol Rovers, Newport County, AFC Bournemouth and Gillingham, would feel that he too did not benefit from the establishment in his own rise to success.


He counts his biggest achievement as his experience at Stoke, when he had just lost his father.  But he worries now that managing has become harder than ever before due to the amount of money in the game.  He lamented that “youngsters are given a lot before they’ve achieved anything”, and need to be pushed.


But Pulis admitted that he himself had been very lucky at the right times, and his “determined” and “obsessive” nature helped him rise to (almost) the top of the “wonderful game”.

University of Oxford