Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Biggest Beast of the Jungle

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Biggest Beast of the Jungle

Article excerpt

Byline: ADRIAN CURTIS

Neil Ruddock faces a wild time Down Under with a bizarre bunch of celebrities. But Razor's crazy past means he is cut out for the task, reports Adrian Curtis

WANTED: sportsman to play the Phil Tufnell role on I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here.

Must be a bit lippy with a threat of simmering temper.

Only those with designs on Hollywood need apply.

Lucky applicant will get the chance to endear themselves to the nation/make a public exhibition of themselves (delete as appropriate).

Eventual salary could exceed [pounds sterling]1million in sponsorship deals and appearance fees.

Put like that, it is not hard to see why the producers have settled on Neil Ruddock - and why the 35-year-old player agreed - to star in this year's series of the ITV show which is again expected to be a sure-fire ratings winner when it begins tonight.

He is, after all, a celebrity who carries more than his fair share of baggage - not much of it in his suitcases.

Certainly, after a career littered with controversy on and off the pitch, three weeks in the jungle will seem like a walk in the park to him.

He will take on Tufnell's role with gusto.

Negotiating the Bushtucker trial should hold no fears for a man who once ran 50 yards to head butt another footballer during a game.

He has often endured taunts about his weight and even David Pleat, now acting manager of Tottenham, once told him that he would make a better security guard than footballer.

Pleat could have said hooligan.

As a 16-year-old Ruddock was among the thousands of Millwall fans that went on the rampage in a riot which Prime Minister of the time Margaret Thatcher labelled as the worst case of hooliganism in the history of the British game.

Seats were ripped out and thrown on to the pitch and a battle ensued with police.

Ruddock found no hiding place the following day when his face was pictured on the back page of the South London Press, under the banner headline: 'Thugs'.

It was not the sort of impression that Ruddock had wanted to make as a first-year apprentice at Millwall. …

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