Keith Alexander suddenly and tragically passed away when manager of Macclesfield Town on March 3, 2010.
Alexander earned his reputation as a manager who could maximise limited resources.
He transformed Lincoln City from a struggling basement outfit during a four-year reign before undertaking a similar job with Macclesfield Town.
An early graduate of the LMA's certificate in applied management at Warwick University, Keith took charge of Lincoln in 2002 after a spell as assistant manager under Alan Buckley.
He transformed a side that had almost been relegated from the League, leading the Imps to the play-offs in each of his four seasons.
In November, 2003 he was rushed to hospital with a cerebral aneurysm but, after surgery, made a full recovery and returned to work only three months later.
Although Alexander is in the history books as the only manager to have missed promotion through the play-offs in four consecutive seasons, his feat of making a small club consistently competitive is admired within the game.
After a short tenure at Peterborough - whom he left in a comfortable eighth place - Keith was briefly director of football at Bury before moving to Macclesfield in February, 2008.
He was rewarded with a two-year contract for keeping the club in the League and he sustained the Silkmen's status in 2008-09, before he was again awarded with a new contract in January 2010.
Nottingham-born Alexander's first assignment as a boss had come as far back as 1993 with Lincoln. He also gained non-league experience in taking charge of Ilkeston and Northwich before joining Buckley back at Sincil Bank in 2001.
It was under Buckley at Grimsby that Alexander's playing career as a striker peaked. He hit 26 goals in 83 games for the Mariners.
Alexander also played for Stockport, Lincoln and Mansfield, continuing almost to the age of 40. He was capped three times by St. Lucia in 1990.
Keith is survived by his wife, Helen, and his children Jack, Jenny, Paul and Matt, who are steeped in the family's football tradition.
Leading the tributes, LMA Chairman, Howard Wilkinson said; “The strength of the LMA grows at a dramatic rate and one of the main reasons for this is the core of the managers within our membership, such as Keith Alexander. His managerial career was spent in non-league and the lower divisions of the Football League but his enthusiasm never dimmed nor did his commitment to self improvement and to the cause of professional football management. This was all despite the enormous difficulties thrown at him not just on the job but also in relation to his health.
“It is ironic that on the day of his death I was due to phone Keith and invite him to join the committee such was the respect of the board, members as well as the rest of football had for him both as a person and manager.”
LMA Chief Executive, Richard Bevan said;
“He will be sorely missed by the LMA, its members and the whole of the football community. Keith was an active member of the LMA and our projects with The Prince's Trust in particular, and his contribution to the well-being of the game is widely acknowledged. Nobody would deny that Keith knew just about all there is to know about managing football clubs on a low budget. He was a champion of civil rights and equality issues and was also active in the Black Coaches Association.”
Peterborough's director of sport, Barry Fry, who worked with Alexander when he was a player at Barnet and also at London Road when he was a manager, added: "I really can't believe it. I'd been worried lately about his health but he assured me he was fine.
"He recently had a bout of hiccups that he couldn't get rid of and he went into hospital for that, but he wasn't feeling ill when I spoke to him last, he was bubbly. He'd had a few days off but he couldn't wait to get back on the training pitch. You won't find a more dedicated man at any club, he always gave 150%. I feel so sad for his family."
Russell Slade said; “Keith was one of my closest friends in football. It was almost 3 years ago now, when he was my best man at my wedding in St Lucia. A quite funny and strange coincidence was that Keith's uncle did the ceremony which he knew nothing about and he was so delighted to see him. Keith was such an honest man who above everything else, cared for the game and his family. He will be massively missed.”
Accrington manager John Coleman told BBC Radio Lancashire: "He was a nice man and a good footballing person. I spent a bit of time with him at the play-off final last year. He spent a lot of time managing lower league clubs and will be sorely missed."
Sammy McIlroy added: "Keith was a football man through and through. We played them earlier on this season and everything seemed OK. I know he's had problems but he seemed to be getting over them. He was chirpy and always loved talking about the game and it's a complete shock.
"I remember him playing non-league football and he put himself about. But when you talked to him as a manager he was softly spoken and it's a great shame what's happened."
Piara Powar, director for Kick It Out, football's equality and inclusion campaign, also paid tribute to Alexander. “Keith's passing is a tragedy for English football. He was a pioneering figure, whose talent spoke for itself, an unstinting supporter of equality in the game, and most importantly a role model for aspiring coaches and managers, whatever their racial background, everywhere. Our condolences go to his family and friends.”
The LMA was deeply appreciative of The FA's very sensitive response to Keith's tragic death and the magnificent gesture of the England National Team and Under 21's to wear black armbands in the matches against Egypt and Greece respectively.
- Lincoln City (May 1993 - May 1994)
- Ilkeston Town (Non League, 1995-00)
- Northwich Victoria (Non League, 2000-01)
- Lincoln City (May 2002 - May 2006)
- Peterborough United (May 2006 - Jan 2007)
- Bury (Director of Football, May 2007 - Jan 2008)
- Macclesfield Town (Feb 2008 - Mar 2010)
- Lincoln City: 226
- Peterborough United: 27
- Macclesfield Town: 90
Keith's career makes him the most experienced black manager in the history of the Football League.