Paul Simon Ritchie (born 21 August 1975) is a Scottish football player and coach. Ritchie started his playing career with Heart of Midlothian (Hearts), making 133 league appearances for the club and helping it win theScottish Cup in 1998. He played for several clubs after leaving Hearts during the 1999–2000 season. Ritchie made seven appearances for the Scotland national football team between 1999 and 2004, scoring one goal. Since retiring as a player he has worked as a football coach, most recently as assistant coach with Vancouver Whitecaps FC in Major League Soccer.
Beginning his career with Heart of Midlothian (Hearts) in 1992, Ritchie quickly gained a reputation as a promisingdefender, gaining a regular first team place and winning Scotland under-21 caps. The highlight of his time at Hearts was undoubtedly the club’s Scottish Cup win in 1998. Persistent speculation linked him with a move toRangers, particularly with his Hearts contract due to expire in 2000. The Tynecastle club, however, were unwilling to allow him to move to a rival cheaply, and he spent time with Bolton Wanderers on a short term contract and appeared in both the FA Cup and League Cup Semi Finals before finally joining Rangers on a Bosman free transfer in June 2000.
However, Rangers manager Dick Advocaat then elected to sell Ritchie to Manchester City for a fee of £500,000 just two months later, without him ever playing a first team match for the club. Ritchie would spend three years with City, but struggled throughout to earn a regular place in their team, spending time out on loan withPortsmouth and Derby County. In August 2003 he left on a free transfer and joined Walsall, where despite suffering relegation he was at least able to play regular first team football again, forcing himself back into the international reckoning with some inspirational performances, scoring once against Rotherham United. However, whilst at Walsall he was caught up in a contract dispute with owner Jeff Bonser, indirectly leading to the dismissal of Saddler’s manager Colin Lee.
In the summer of 2004 he moved on again, signing a short term contract with Dundee United, which was later extended despite injury problems limiting his appearances at first. For a while he was regularly captaining the team, but in April 2006 United manager Craig Brewster announced Ritchie was free to leave the club at the end of the season, despite having a year of his contract left to run. His departure was finally confirmed in August 2006. He then moved to Omonia Nicosia but left at the end of the season because of an injury to his cruciate ligament. Ritchie moved to Dundee as youth coach in summer 2007 but left in November.
In 2009, Ritchie signed with Carolina RailHawks of the USL First Division in the United States. In June 2009 it was announced that Ritchie had left the club, having made just one first team appearance.Ritchie represented Scotland seven times. He made his debut in a friendly win against Germany in April 1999. His next cap against the Czech Republic saw him score his only international goal. Within a year he had taken his cap total to six, but thereafter a lack of first team football at Manchester City saw him drop out of contention. He won only one more cap, against Wales in 2004 following some fine displays for Walsall.
After his playing career ended in 2009, Ritchie returned to Britain to complete his coaching badges and work for the Manchester United soccer schools. He returned to Carolina RailHawks as assistant coach in 2010 and 2011 under manager Martin Rennie. Rennie moved on to Vancouver Whitecaps FC in November 2011 and brought Ritchie with him as assistant coach for the Major League Soccer club. Ritchie was released in January 2014 after Rennie was sacked.
|1992–2000||Heart of Midlothian||133||(6)|
|1999–2000||Bolton Wanderers (loan)||14||(0)|
|2003||Derby County (loan)||7||(0)|
|2010–2011||Carolina RailHawks (assistant)|
|2011–2013||Vancouver Whitecaps FC (assistant)|