Moyes made over 540 league appearances as a centre-half in a playing career that began with Celtic, where he won a championship medal. He then played for Cambridge United, Bristol City, Shrewsbury Town and Dunfermline Athletic before ending his playing career with Preston North End. He became a coach at Preston, working his way up to assistant manager before eventually taking over as manager in 1998, his first managerial position. Moyes led Preston to the Division Two title in 1999–2000 and the Division One play-off final the following season.
Moyes became manager of Everton in March 2002 and under him the club qualified for the third qualifying round for the UEFA Champions League in 2005 and reached the 2009 FA Cup Final. Upon reaching his 10th anniversary at the club Moyes received praise from many fellow managers including Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsène Wenger and Kenny Dalglish for his achievements at Everton. His service to Everton was also praised in Parliament by Steve Rotheram MP. He succeeded Sir Alex Ferguson as manager of Manchester United, but was sacked after 10 months, and subsequently managed Real Sociedad in La Liga. In July 2016, Moyes replaced Sam Allardyce as manager of Sunderland. In April 2017, Sunderland's relegation to the EFL Championship was confirmed. Moyes resigned as manager on 22 May 2017, despite stating that he wanted to remain as manager.
Born in Glasgow, Moyes started his career at Icelandic club ÍBV, playing half a season with the youth team in 1978. Moyes enjoyed a career that encompassed playing at a number of different clubs, usually as a centre-half, beginning at Celtic, where he won a championship medal and made 24 league appearances, and ending with Preston North End.
As a player with Cambridge United, Moyes received abuse from team-mate Roy McDonough for his religious beliefs; Moyes is a practising Christian. McDonough felt that religion was distracting them from focusing on playing; speaking of Moyes, Alan Comfort and Graham Daniels, he said: "The three of them sat in the changing room with a little black book, discussing their faith, when they should have been getting psyched up for a relegation scrap." Following a 3–3 draw with Wigan Athletic on 9 March 1985, McDonough, who was 26 years old at the time, states that he "battered" 20-year-old Moyes for not putting sufficient effort into the game.
While playing for Shrewsbury Town in 1987, Moyes began coaching at the nearby private school, Concord College, on the recommendation of Jake King as a way to supplement his wages.
Moyes made over 550 league appearances in his career before becoming a coach at Preston, working his way up to assistant manager before eventually taking over as manager in 1998.
Moyes captained Scotland at U18 age group level. He played under former UEFA Technical Director Andy Roxburgh in 1980.
Moyes took over as Preston North End manager in January 1998, replacing Gary Peters as the club struggled in Division Two and were in danger of relegation. He had spent much of his playing career preparing for management, taking coaching badges at just 22 years of age and compiling notes on managers he had played under, their techniques and tactics. Preston avoided relegation at the end of the 1997–98 season and reached the Division Two play-offs the following season, where they were beaten by Gillingham at the semi-final stage.
The following season, Moyes guided Preston to the Division Two title and a promotion to Division One. An even greater achievement perhaps was to steer Preston into the Division One play-offs the season after that, with largely the same squad. Preston lost 3–0 to Bolton Wanderers in the 2001 Football League First Division play-off Final, missing out on promotion to the Premier League. One month later, Moyes signed a new five-year contract with the club. Towards the end of the following season, he left for Everton, to take over from fellow Scotsman Walter Smith in March 2002. Moyes took charge of Preston for 234 matches, of which his team won 113, drew 58 and lost 63.
Moyes joined Everton on 14 March 2002 and at his unveiling press conference, declared that Everton were 'The People's Club' on Merseyside. He said:
"I am from a city (Glasgow) that is not unlike Liverpool. I am joining the people's football club. The majority of people you meet on the street are Everton fans. It is a fantastic opportunity, something you dream about. I said 'yes' right away as it is such a big club."
His first game in charge was against Fulham at Goodison Park. Everton won the game 2–1, with David Unsworth scoring after just 30 seconds.
Prior to Moyes's appointment, Everton Chairman Bill Kenwright contacted Moyes and invited him to his home in London to discuss the available position at Everton. Moyes was reluctant as he was driving from Preston to Bristol on a scouting mission, he was looking at Nathan Ellington. After the game, Moyes drove from Bristol to London where he met Kenwright for an hour, after the meeting he drove back to Preston from London – a 550-mile round trip.
Everton managed to sustain a good run of form and avoided relegation, which was a genuine threat when he was originally appointed. Despite having a history and list of honours only surpassed in English football by Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United, the past decade had not been a successful time for the Toffees, with an FA Cup win in 1995 and a sixth-place finish in 1996 being about the only bright spots for the club that side of 1990.
Moyes prepared for his first full season in charge at Everton by signing Chinese international Li Tie, Nigerian defender Joseph Yobo and goalkeeper Richard Wright and released older players such as Jesper Blomqvist and David Ginola. Everton were edged out of qualification for the following season's UEFA Cup on the last day of the season by Blackburn Rovers, following a defeat by Manchester United, and finished seventh in the league. Moyes was awarded LMA Manager of the Year for the first time, to go with the Premier League Manager of the Month award for November 2002, when the Toffees had been in the Champions League places.
For the 2003–04 season, Moyes signed Kevin Kilbane from Sunderland, James McFadden from Motherwell, Nigel Martyn from Leeds United and Francis Jeffers returned on loan from Arsenal. Poor results followed though and Everton did not win a game in 2004 until 28 February. A confrontation between Moyes and Duncan Ferguson at Everton's training ground was said to be symptomatic of the problems at the club. On 12 April 2003, Moyes was sent to the stands during a game against West Bromwich Albion by referee Steve Bennett for using foul and abusive language and for improper behaviour. Everton finished 17th with 39 points, the lowest total in the club's history (although survival had been confirmed some time earlier), just avoiding relegation.
During the summer of 2004, despite the turmoil surrounding the club's recent form, Moyes managed to bring in Tim Cahill and Marcus Bent. To this day, Cahill is considered to be one of Moyes' best signings, scoring 15 goals in his first season playing for Everton. Those who left the club were Tomasz Radzinski, Tobias Linderoth, David Unsworth and, most significantly Wayne Rooney, who joined Manchester United for a reported £25.6 million. Later, the Daily Mail published extracts from Rooney's autobiography, claiming that Moyes had forced Rooney out of the club and then leaked the details to the press. Moyes went on to sue for libel before settling out of court when Rooney apologised and agreed to pay for damages. Moyes donated the undisclosed damages from the suit to the Everton Former Players' Foundation.
During the 2004–05 season, Everton went on to surpass all expectations by finishing fourth in the league and securing a place in the following season's UEFA Champions League third qualification round, Moyes again being awarded the LMA Manager of the Year award. Moyes then broke Everton's transfer record to bring in striker James Beattie in January and, as influential midfielder Thomas Gravesen left, Mikel Arteta came in on loan.
At the beginning of the 2005–06 season, Everton struggled again and were battling relegation. Their European campaign ended with a loss to Villareal in the qualifying round. Moyes signed Nuno Valente, Andy van der Meyde, Simon Davies, Per Krøldrup, and Phil Neville; signed Matteo Ferrari on loan; and made Arteta a permanent signing. They climbed from bottom place in late October to a secure 11th-place finish at the end of the season.
Moyes broke the club transfer record for a second time at the start of the 2006–07 season with the £8.6 million acquisition of Andrew Johnson. Joleon Lescott was also signed from Wolverhampton Wanderers while goalkeeper Tim Howard arrived from Manchester United on a loan deal, which was later made permanent. All of these players would prove to be successful signings, further enhancing Moyes's reputation as a team builder. Whilst Everton's league form flourished again, their record in the FA Cup under Moyes did not improve: in the third round they crashed out 4–1 to Blackburn Rovers. An improved league position of sixth was secured along with UEFA Cup football for the next season.
It was the 2007–08 season that Everton displayed the most consistency and stability since Moyes arrived at the club, finally ending the cycle of alternating between the top and bottom halves of the league. In his sixth full season in charge, Moyes secured fifth place in the league and reached the semi-final of the Football League Cup as well as the last 16 of the UEFA Cup, eventually being beaten on penalties by Fiorentina. Moyes also signed four more players who went on to become very important players for Everton: Yakubu Aiyegbeni was signed for another record fee of £11.25 million, Steven Pienaar for £2.05 million after an initial loan, Phil Jagielka was brought in for £4 million, and Leighton Baines was signed for a fee that could rise to £6 million. All of this gave Everton and its fans cause for optimism as a string of strong performances broke the pattern inconsistency which saw league finishes of 15th, 7th, 17th, 4th and 11th under Moyes. His reputation as a disciplinarian could be seen to manifest in Everton's yellow card count. They received just 27 yellow cards all season – the lowest in the league and six fewer than their nearest rival Liverpool.
Moyes recruited Steve Round as his assistant manager for the 2008–09 season to replace Alan Irvine, who had taken over as Preston North End manager the previous winter. Everton's first new player of the season, Lars Jacobsen, was brought in two games into the season. This was shortly followed by the signings of Segundo Castillo and Louis Saha. On deadline day, Moyes secured the services of goalkeeper Carlo Nash on a free transfer, and Marouane Fellaini for a club record £15 million. On 14 September, Moyes was sent to the stands by referee Alan Wiley during a game against Stoke City. He was later fined £5,000 by The Football Association for improper conduct and warned about his future behaviour.
At the end of the transfer window January 2009, Moyes brought in Brazilian international striker Jô on loan from Manchester City. On 14 October 2008, Moyes agreed to extend his Goodison Park stay by a further five years. On 19 April 2009, Moyes led his team to an FA Cup semi-final victory over Manchester United, after a penalty shoot-out, to reach the final for the first time since 1995. In the final, Everton were beaten 2–1 by Chelsea despite taking a lead through Louis Saha in the opening minute.
In the summer of 2009, Moyes sold Joleon Lescott to Manchester City for £22 million, after a saga that lasted for the entire transfer window. With the money from the Lescott sale, Moyes brought in Johnny Heitinga, Sylvain Distin and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov. He also re-signed Jô on a season-long loan and Lucas Neill on a free transfer. Moyes was named as Premier League Manager of the Month for January 2010 after three wins and a draw. Moyes' took charge of his 600th match as a manager on 6 February 2010 in the Merseyside Derby against Liverpool which resulted in a 1–0 defeat. Everton ended the season in eighth place, failing to qualify for Europe for the first time in four years despite a run of only two defeats in their last 24 league games.
On 14 May 2010, Moyes revealed he would be interested in taking up the Celtic job in the future; that job did indeed become vacant at the end of the 2009–10 season with the departure of Tony Mowbray, but Moyes did not put his name forward for the vacancy and Neil Lennon was appointed instead. In August 2010, Moyes dismissed speculation linking him with the manager's job at Aston Villa left vacant by the resignation of Martin O'Neill.
In September 2010, Moyes admitted an improper conduct charge in relation to his behaviour towards referee Martin Atkinson following a 3–3 draw with Manchester United. He was fined £8,000 with his assistant also admitting to the same charge.
In January 2012, Moyes became the fourth manager, after Alex Ferguson, Arsène Wenger and Harry Redknapp, to record 150 wins in the Premier League. He celebrated his 400th Premier League game in November 2012 with a 2–1 win against Sunderland.
In May 2013, following Ferguson's retirement at Manchester United and with his own contract expiring at the end of the season, Moyes informed Everton that he would leave the club to succeed Ferguson.
On 9 May 2013, Manchester United announced that Moyes would take over the club following Alex Ferguson's retirement as manager. He signed a six-year contract with the club, and officially took up his managerial position at United on 1 July 2013. His first unofficial game as United manager ended in defeat as Teeratep Winothai scored the only goal for Singha All Stars in Bangkok on 13 July 2013. On 11 August 2013, he won his only trophy with Manchester United in his first official game, a 2–0 win over Wigan Athletic in the FA Community Shield. It meant he became the first United manager in history to win a trophy outright in his first season in charge. Less than a week later, he won his first league game in charge of the club, opening the season with a 4–1 victory against Swansea City, but after that, United suffered their worst ever start to a Premier League season, leading the start of his reign to be described as "calamitous" following a 4–1 defeat by Manchester City and a 2–1 home defeat by West Bromwich Albion, with several journalists stating the pressure was now on despite it being early in his reign.
In December, Manchester United lost Premier League matches at home to Everton and Newcastle United in the space of four days, suffering back-to-back league defeats at Old Trafford for the first time since the 2001–02 season. United were ninth in the table after 15 games, 13 points behind leaders Arsenal. Moyes said that he took "complete responsibility" for United's defeats but said he was confident his team would improve. Moyes did however have a positive start to his first Champions League campaign with the club. United finished top of their group after winning four of their six group stage matches.
In January 2014, United were knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round by Swansea City, losing 2–1 at home, and lost in the semi-final of the Football League Cup, with Sunderland winning a penalty shoot-out. Following consecutive 0–3 home defeats against Liverpool and Manchester City, a flypast was staged by United fans with the banner displaying "Wrong One - Moyes Out" in seven-foot high lettering during a home match against Aston Villa in March. After the match, which United won 4–1, Moyes said the majority of fans had been "very supportive" of him. The club reached the quarter-final stage of the Champions League, after beating Olympiacos, but were defeated 4–2 on aggregate by Bayern Munich.
On 22 April 2014, Manchester United announced that they had sacked Moyes. Moyes was in charge of United for 10 months, the third shortest managerial stint in United history and the shortest in 82 years despite calls from several respected ex-Manchester United players such as Denis Law and David Beckham calling for Moyes to be given more time at the club. At the time of his sacking, United were seventh in the Premier League table, 13 points behind fourth-placed Arsenal with four matches remaining, ensuring United would fail to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 1995 and finish outside of the top three for the first time in Premier League history. Moyes had won five points from a possible 24 against Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Arsenal (the top four at the time of sacking). He was replaced in the interim by long-serving player Ryan Giggs and permanently by Louis van Gaal. Moyes was awarded £5 million in compensation following the sacking.
On 10 November 2014 Moyes was appointed as the new manager of La Liga club Real Sociedad on an 18-month deal after the dismissal of Jagoba Arrasate, with the team lying in 15th in the table. His managerial debut was an away league match against Deportivo La Coruña on 22 November, which ended in a goalless draw. Six days later, in his first home match at Anoeta, he earned his first victory as the club's manager, Carlos Vela scoring a hat-trick in a 3–0 win over Elche. On 4 January 2015, Moyes led Sociedad to a 1–0 win over Barcelona, a result which journalists compared to his management of Everton and contrasted with his results at Manchester United. Ten days later, in a 2–2 home draw against Villarreal which eliminated his team from the Copa del Rey, Moyes was sent to the stand and later given a two-match touchline ban for arguing over an offside decision.
He was sacked on 9 November 2015 after coming under increasing pressure due to a poor start to the season.
On 23 July 2016, Sunderland confirmed the appointment of Moyes as new manager, replacing Sam Allardyce, thus returning to the Premier League for the first time since his sacking as United boss in April 2014.
On 3 April 2017 it was revealed that Moyes had made a controversial remark after a post-match interview after Sunderland's goalless draw with Burnley on 18 March. After the interview with the BBC's Vicki Sparks, while the microphone was still audible, Moyes, said: "It was getting a wee bit naughty at the end there so just watch yourself. You still might get a slap even though you’re a woman. Careful the next time you come in". Moyes apologised for the incident. The FA wrote to Moyes to ask for his observations on the incident.
Later that month, Sunderland were confirmed to be relegated to the EFL Championship for the first time in ten years after a 1–0 loss to A.F.C. Bournemouth, marking the first relegation of Moyes' career. After the match, Moyes stated that he would like to remain as manager. However on 22 May 2017, one day after the end of the Premier League season, Moyes resigned as Sunderland manager.As of match played 21 May 2017
CelticScottish League Premier Division: 1981–82
Bristol CityAssociate Members' Cup: 1985–86
Preston North EndFootball League Third Division: 1995–96
Preston North EndFootball League Second Division: 1999–2000
Manchester UnitedFA Community Shield: 2013
LMA Manager of the Year: 2002–03, 2004–05, 2008–09
Premier League Manager of the Month: November 2002, September 2004, January 2006, February 2008, February 2009, January 2010, March 2010, October 2010, September 2012, March 2013
During the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Moyes provided some commentary for selected matches for BBC Radio 5 Live. Moyes co-owns the racehorse Desert Cry, which was trained by Donald McCain.
Moyes has one daughter, who went to Archbishop Temple School in Preston, where he previously managed Preston North End. He also has a son called David Jr. who went to college in Preston. Moyes' father, David Sr., is a scout at Everton and previously a coach at Drumchapel Amateurs, where Moyes began his career. His full-time occupation was as a pattern-maker and later a lecturer at Anniesland College in North Glasgow. Moyes' mother, Joan, hailed from Portrush in Northern Ireland and worked in clothes stores in Glasgow. David's cousin, Dessie Brown is secretary of Coleraine Football Club.
Moyes is a Christian and says he goes to church whenever he can. He is a supporter of the Labour Party and in 2010 backed Andy Burnham to be leader in the Labour Party leadership election. As a boy, he grew up supporting Rangers despite playing for Old Firm rivals Celtic.
On 22 May 2014, Moyes was investigated by police after an alleged assault on a man at a wine bar in Clitheroe, but no action was taken by police.