Alan Hope was born on 13 November, 1937 in Leadgate, County Durham, England. He later changed his surname to O’Neill when his mother remarried.

Alan started playing football at his local school the age of nine. In 1953 he signed for Sunderland.

Alan joined Cambridge United in March 1966.

In May 1968 Alan moved to South Africa where he joined Johannesburg-club Southern Suburbs. Alan was the player-manager of Southern Suburbs.

In May 1970 he was rumored to be one of the candidates to take over as manager of Darlington.

Alan joined National Soccer League club Toronto Ukraina as a player-coach before the start of the 1971 National Soccer League season in Canada.

On 11 August 1971 he was loaned out to New York Cosmos. The Cosmos were playing in their first season in the North American Soccer League. They were members of the Northern Division that consisted of the Cosmos, defending NASL champions Rochester Lancers, Montreal Olympique and Toronto Metros.

Alan made his debut for the Cosmos on 22 August in a 2-0 win over Toronto Metros.

On August 29 the Cosmos played against Atlanta Chiefs at Yankee Stadium. Radi Mitrovic scored after 25 minutes and Alan O’Neill scored after 35 minutes to secure a 2-1 victory for the Cosmos in front of 2,714 soccer fans.

The win secured a second-place finish for the Cosmos in the Northern Division final standings. They qualified for the NASL championship playoffs where they met the Atlanta Chiefs, Southern Division champions, on September 2.

Advert in the The Atlanta Constitution on 01 September 1971

In the playoffs the Cosmos met Atlanta Chiefs in a best-of-three series. The Chiefs defeated New York Cosmos in two straight games. After the playoff series Alan returned to Toronto where he joined Hellas. The move landed Hellas and Alan in trouble .

In January 1972 Alan signed for Vancouver Columbus as a player-coach.

In September 1972 Alan travelled to Mexico as he had been offered a deal to coach Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

Photo: Charles Buchan’s