HEAD BUTT HELL WILL HAUNT ME FOREVER!; PART TWO OF THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A SOCCER HARDMAN; Says; NEIL RUDDOCK; LIVERPOOL & ENGLAND
Tanner, Richard, The Mirror (London, England)
NEIL RUDDOCK last night spoke of the head butt shame that could have finished him as a footballer and admitted: "I'm lucky I wasn't kicked out in disgrace."
It was at The Dell back in December 1991 - a date and a year the Liverpool superstar will never be able to erase from his memory.
Ruddock was sent off twice, booked nine times and sat out four suspensions in that 1991-92 season.
But it was when the red mist descended and he sprinted 60 yards to lay out Craig Short - then with Notts County - with a head butt that still lives with him to this day.
Ruddock recalls: "It was the worst moment of my career. I'm ashamed of it but, looking back, it proved the turning point for me.
"It was really a build-up of frustration. We were giving each other stick all game and then it all went off.
"I'd had a whack on the nose in the penalty area and Notts County had scored with only a couple of minutes left.
"I was upset at everything around me. Then someone stamped on Alan Shearer at the other end, there was a little scuffle and I saw the red mist.
"I rushed virtually from one penalty area to another, head butting Short and splitting his eyebrow. I was sent off in disgrace.
"That was bottom of the pit for me. The Southampton manager at the time, Ian Branfoot, threw the book at me.
"He dropped me, fined me, slapped me on the transfer list, warned me I'd never play for the club again - and made me train twice a day for SIX weeks. That one moment forced Ruddock into a change of attitude. He knew then if he stepped out of line again he would be finished - no- one would touch him.
"It really shook me up. I sat down and for the first time in my life did some really serious soul-searching.
"I turned to the senior players like Jimmy Case, Russell Osman and Micky Adams. …