Anthony “Tony” Richard Pulis was born on January 16, 1958 in Pillgwenlly, Newport, Wales, raised in a Catholic environment and as a Manchester United fan. Pulis was a defender who started playing football at a competitive level at the Newport Academy in South Wales from where he would make the leap to England to play for Bristol Rovers.
The club had values closely related to the principles of the working class and the mentality that nothing has been given to them, that to win something you have to fight, a mentality that has accompanied Pulis throughout his professional career. In 1975, he made his professional debut for the Rovers in the Second Division.
After 5 years in Bristol, he would have a stint in Hong Kong, in Happy Valley, which from a sporting point of view was a second place in the local league and a Hong Kong Senior Challenge Shield. After 8 months, he would return to Bristol Rovers where he would stay for a couple of years, then return to South Wales, playing for Newport County. Harry Redknapp would take him to AFC Bournemouth, where he would achieve promotion to the Second Division in 1987.
After a brief stint at Gillingham FC, Pulis would return to Bournemouth where he would be a player and coach at the same time, beginning his transition to the managerial position that he would achieve in the Cherries in 1992. Since Pulis began his professional playing career, he visualized himself as a manager, which is why he obtained the FA Coaching Certificate at 19 and the UEFA A License at 21.
For the beginning of the 1995-96 season, he was hired as Gillingham manager with whom he would achieve promotion to the Second Division in that first year with the Gills. Upon leaving the club, he had brief stints through Bristol City, Portsmouth, Stoke City and Plymouth Argyle.
In 2006, he would have the opportunity to return to the Potters, staying there for over seven years and with whom he would achieve promotion to the Premier League in the 2007-08 season, finishing second in the Championship, returning them to the English first tier after more than 20 years. In addition to reaching the FA Cup final in 2011, losing to Manchester City.
In 2013, he would leave Stoke, spend a few months at Crystal Palace and then arrive at West Bromwich Albion where he would have some good campaigns by being a very difficult opponent for rival to beat and finishing quite comfortably away from relegation. In the 2016-17 season he finished 10th above clubs like West Ham or Leicester City. After a bad start to the 2017-18 season, he got fired from the Baggies. After that he would have brief spells at Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday.
Throughout his career, Pulis was characterized by being a manager whose style of play was quite defensive and was based on the classic long passes that characterized English football in the mid-twentieth century. Although it is a philosophy that currently has many detractors, the reality is that the results support Pulis’ logic and this is without considering, for example, that despite never having coached a top club, he has never been relegated in any category, not even as player.