Kelly started his playing career with City but will be remembered more for his stint as assistant manager and then permanent manager when he succeeded Craig Levein as boss in January 2006 first on a caretaker basis before being offered the role permanently.
Birmingham-born Kelly turned professional with the Foxes in December 1982 but didn’t make his first senior appearance until May 1984 in a home match against Sunderland. A midfielder, that proved to be his sole first-team outing before being sent out to Tranmere Rovers on loan.
The following season he made Gordon Milne’s opening day starting line-up and things looked up for Kelly, but he was limited to only 17 league starts and seven more appearances from the bench. His only goal came against Manchester United but it wasn’t enough to stop City accepting a bit from Wolves for his services.
Kelly enjoyed more success at Molineux, helping Wolves to the play-offs just after joining the club, but a serious back injury kept him on the sidelines for much of the following two campaigns, both of which Wanderers enjoyed promotion. The injury eventually ruled Kelly out of professional football as a player and he instead turned his attentions to journalism before getting the call from Wolves to run their youth academy.
That led to more youth roles with Blackburn Rovers and Watford and his coaching reputation grew, ultimately seeing him become assistant to Levein at City, the club where it all began. When the Scot was sacked in January 2006 Kelly took over on an interim basis but his turnaround of City’s fortunes saw him awarded the role permanently.
The success didn’t last, with owner Milan Mandatic relieving Kelly of his duties early in the following campaign after a bad run of results. His coaching continued with roles as assistant manager to Alan Irvine at both Preston North End and giants Sheffield Wednesday.