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SWAPPING SHIRTS: PAUL MITCHELL

5 April 2018

We take a look at players who link Latics and MK Dons, with particular focus on former Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur Head of Recruitment, Paul Mitchell.

  • The big link between MK Dons and Wigan Athletic, Paul Mitchell.
  • We take a look at the career of Bundesliga side RB Leipzig's Head of Recruitment.
  • Mitchell played for Latics, MK Dons, Halifax Town, Swindon Town, Wrexham and Barnet.

There are a number of players who have donned the blue and white of Wigan Athletic and the white shirts of MK Dons, but we focus on one man who is helping in re-shaping the way football clubs recruit new players.

Paul Mitchell started his career with Latics and ended his playing days at Stadium MK, below we take a closer look at how the defensive midfielder switched his focus to player identification after hanging up his boots.

PAUL MITCHELL

Latics: 1999-2005 - 81 apps
Halifax Town: 2001 (loan) - 11 apps
Swindon Town: 2004 (loan) - 7 apps
MK Dons: 2004-2005 (loan) - 14 apps
MK Dons: 2005-2009 - 68 apps
Wrexham: 2007 (loan) - 5 apps
Barnet: 2008 (loan) - 4 apps

From humble beginnings as an apprentice at Latics’ Christopher Park to a high-flying Head of Recruitment on the continent, Paul Mitchell’s career hasn’t taken the stereotypical footballing path.

Now leading up the recruitment at ambitious Bundesliga club RB Leipzig, Mitchell is a long way away from his Latics debut as an 18-year-old substitute in December 1999 in a 2-1 victory over Burnley in the EFL Trophy.

Comfortable in both defence and midfield, Mitchell featured regularly at the start of the 2000-01 season, making his first start in a 1-0 League Cup victory over Scunthorpe United, before making his league debut as a substitute for Scott Green in a 3-1 win away at Wrexham.

A brief loan spell and 11 appearances with Halifax Town followed in the same campaign, before Mitchell made his true breakthrough into Latics’ first team, playing 25 times in the 2001-02 season.

Arguably his most successful campaign as a player came in 2002-03, when Mitchell featured 34 times as Latics won the Division Two title with 100 points, but it was to be the beginning of the end for the defensive midfielder, who only featured 12 times in Division One and was soon loaned out at the start of Latics’ second season in the second tier.

Paul Mitchell Wigan Athletic promotion celebration 2002-03

Paul Mitchell celebrating Latics' promotion to the second tier in 2003.

Seven matches at Swindon Town kickstarted Mitchell’s 2004-05 season, before his final appearance for Latics in a 2-0 away win at Leeds United in October 2004. Two months later his affinity with MK Dons began, joining the ambitious regime, initially on loan, where he featured alongside current club captain Dean Lewington.

Such was his impact at Stadium MK, Mitchell signed permanently ahead of the 2005-06 season and he went on to feature 43 times, followed by 24 appearances in 2006-07, a campaign in which he captained the team.

Unfortunately for the popular figure, a broken leg in a 2-2 draw at Notts County in February 2007 was to be the end of his career, as Mitchell struggled to reclaim his place in the team and curtailed his playing days with loan spells at Wrexham and Barnet, with his final appearance coming in September 2008 in a 1-1 draw against Morecambe.

After retirement, MK offered him an ambassadorial role with their Sport and Education Trust, before Karl Robinson appointed Mitchell as his Head of Recruitment upon arrival as manager in 2010.

From then on, the 36-year-old has been highly regarded as one of the top talents in player identification, working with Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur. Mitchell is the man credited with the acquisitions of Graziano Pelle, Dusan Tadic and Sadio Mane for the Saints, whilst he helped bring Dele Alli, Kieran Tripper, Toby Alderweireld and Victor Wanyama to Spurs.

His current role with RB Leipzig in Germany began in February of this year, working to feed Ralph Hasenhuttl's team, with a focus on recruiting players under the age of 24.

Other players to have played for both Latics and MK Dons include: Drewe Broughton, Jimmy Bullard, Ryan Colclough, Devante Cole, Alex Gilbey, Will Grigg, Jack Hendry, Josh Murphy, Nicky Maynard, Craig Morgan, Lee Nicholls, Sanmi Odelusi, Alex Revell and James Tavernier.

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