Neil “Razor” Ruddock made his debut at Millwall and went on to have a long career playing for Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, West Ham United, Crystal Palace, and finally a short-lived spell as a player/coach at Swindon Town.
Whilst at Liverpool he was famously involved in an on-field scuffle with Manchester United star Eric Cantona. He responded to Cantona’s taunts about his weight by turning down the Frenchman´s collar. He was also involved in a bust-up with Arsenal’s Patrick Vieira, when at West Ham, with Vieira receiving a nine-match ban after spitting in Ruddock’s face after some verbal sparring between the two.
A crowd favourite, his appearance at Swindon made him an instant cult figure. Relations turned sour when he refused to quit after being advised to do so by a specialist; during a period of time where the club was in serious financial difficulties. The club responded by appointing Steve Coppell as assistant manager and taking Ruddock’s coaching duties away. The board eventually stopped paying his wages in an attempt to drive him out. He took the club to a tribunal over the unpaid wages, and a deal was made where his contract was terminated, in return for a six-figure payment.
He was also accused by Crystal Palace chairman, Simon Jordan, in November 2005, of “taking the team out and getting them wasted when we were fighting relegation.”
He won four caps for the England Under-21 squad and one in 1994 for England B when he captained the team against Ireland B at Anfield. On 16 November 1994 he won his only cap for England, playing in a friendly against Nigeria when Terry Venables was national coach. Throughout his career he battled with weight problems and was often criticised for being unfit; this is often thought to be one of the reasons he only ever gained one full cap for England.
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