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7 lessons today’s footballers can learn from Roy of the Rovers

From surviving kindappings to staying loyal to your club, Roy Race could teach today’s millionaires a thing or two.

Loyalty to his club

Image: Tribal Colours

With the notable exception of players like Ryan Giggs and Steven Gerrard, few players show the kind of loyalty exhibited by Roy Race who signed with boyhood club Melchester Rovers in 1954 as a 14-year old and didn’t retire from playing until 1993.

In 1983 he had his one stint away from the club when he played 21 games for Walford Rovers – scoring 45 goals – but couldn’t stay away and returned to Melchester within the year.

The ability to find the target

YouTube: RoyRace73

In the Premier League, the average Golden Boot winner scores 24 goals in 35 games, a strike rate of .69.

In total, the prolific Roy Race bagged 533 goals in 565 games for club and country, an astonishing strike rate of .94.

The advantages of settling down

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With sex-scandals and extra-marital affairs being as much a part of the back pages as the front these days, modern footballers would do well to follow the example set by Race who married his sweetheart Penny Laine at the end of the 1976 season.

They had three kids together before breaking up in the early Eighties.In that time though, Race remained utterly faithful to Penny.

How to cope with adversity

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These days, players moan about a lack of protection from the referee when they are the victim of a few meaty tackles from opposition defenders but they never suffered from the hardship Race did. In his career, he was kidnapped at least half-a-dozen times, shot, bombed and saw his home ground destroyed by an earthquake.

Despite all this tragedy, Race still picked up 10 league titles,  9 FA Cups and three European Cups and never went running to the media to complain.

Avoiding the trappings of wealth

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There’s something ironic about the fact that Roy Race, the epitome of the working-class-boy-done-good, would have his career ended by the trappings of wealth his success brought. On a scouting mission in 1993, he lost control of his own helicopter and lost his iconic left foot as a result of the crash.

As footballers speed around in uninsured high-performance sports cars, they’d do well to recall Race’s unfortunate fate.


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Being an inspirational leader

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In 1981, Race was shot by out-of-work actor Elton Blake and left in a coma. With Alf Ramsey in temporary charge of Melchester Rovers, hospital staff decided to play him commentary of their game with Keysborough.

Miracurasly, the commentary helped Race come out of his coma and when that news was relayed to his team-mates, they were so overjoyed they went on the break the league goal-scoring record by winning 14-0.

Be willing to play anywhere

Image: Roy of the Rovers GR

With the likes of Wayne Rooney unhappy at being played out of position at Manchester United, he would do well to follow Race’s lead and do whatever his manager asks him to do.

To this day, Roy of the Rovers is still the only player to score a hat-trick in a cup final and go in goal and save a penalty in the last minute.

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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