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‘He was a character, good-natured and full of fun’: Rangers and Scotland legend Andy Goram hailed after death at 58

© SNS GROUPAndy Goram celebrates Rangers’ victory in the 1992 Skol Cup Final
Andy Goram celebrates Rangers’ victory in the 1992 Skol Cup Final

Nicola Sturgeon led a flood of tributes to Rangers and Scotland legend Andy Goram yesterday after his death at 58.

The first minister paid her respects to the player, nicknamed The Goalie, who many fans regarded as the national team’s best ever goalkeeper. He made 260 appearances for the Ibrox side between 1991 and 1998 winning five league titles, three Scottish Cups and two League Cups.

After his death was announced yesterday, Sturgeon said: “This is such dreadfully sad news. Andy Goram was one of Scotland’s all-time football greats. Gone far too soon. My condolences to his loved ones.”

In May, Goram told how doctors had given him months to live after identifying oesophageal cancer but, just days later, he said his condition had worsened after tests revealed it had spread far quicker than predicted.

He started his career at Oldham Athletic before moving north to play for Hibernian and then moving to Glasgow. After his trophy-laden years at Rangers, he played for Notts County, Sheffield United, Motherwell for three seasons, Manchester United, Coventry, Queen of the South and Elgin City.

Goram also won international caps for Scotland as a cricketer. And he remains the only person to have played in a first-class international cricket match as well as a major international football match for Scotland.

Kenny Dalglish, another Scotland legend, joined the tributes, writing in his Sunday Post column today: “Andy was just brilliant during the nine-in-a-row era, and played a huge part in the success Walter Smith had with that squad. It’s so heartbreaking to think that Walter is also no longer with us.”

Yesterday, football commentator Archie Macpherson also paid tribute, saying: “Another great player has gone, this time a goalkeeper. These great players stamp indelible memories in your mind and Andy Goram did that while playing for Rangers and Scotland.

“He was outstanding. He was a great instinctive shot stopper. He could make saves in the blink of an eye. In situations where Rangers and Scotland were under intense pressure, he could save the day.”

Andy Goram with trophy as he enters Hall of Fame in 2010 (Pic: Shutterstock)

One of Goram’s legendary ­displays against their Old Firm rivals Celtic in 1996 prompted former Celtic manager Tommy Burns to say: “Put it on my tombstone. Andy Goram broke my heart.”

Macpherson added: “It drove the late Tommy Burns almost to despair. In some games, Celtic were overpowering Rangers and one man stood against them – Andy Goram.

“Tommy had the greatest respect for Andy but some of the saves he made drove him to despair. I met him and interviewed him and I found him very affable. He was given to a flutter and liked a dram – a very sociable type.”

Rangers broke the news of his death in a statement yesterday, saying the club was “deeply saddened to announce the death of our legendary goalkeeper Andy Goram following a short battle with cancer”.

The club said: “He is a member of the Scottish Football Hall of Fame and was named both the Scottish PFA and Football Writers’ Player of the Year in 1992-93 – arguably the strongest campaign in Rangers’ history. Goram also won international caps for Scotland as a cricketer and remains the only person to have played a first-class international match at cricket as well as a major international football match for Scotland.

“The thoughts of the ­directors, management, players and staff are today with Andy’s family, and would ask that their privacy is respected at this sad time. Funeral details will be ­communicated in due course.”

© SNS Group
Tributes for Goram outside Ibrox (Pic: Craig Foy / SNS Group)

Former Scotland manager Craig Brown paid tribute to Goram, saying: “He was a wonderful goalkeeper and a very popular guy, not only with the Rangers and Scotland players, but with the opposing team. He had so many attributes to make him such a popular individual. He was a character, full of fun and good-natured. It’s a heartbreak to many people hearing this today.”

Goram was inducted in to the Scotland Hall of Fame in 2010 along with Brown in 2010. Brown added: “We had, in my opinion, in Andy and Jim Leighton, the two best goalkeepers in Europe at that time.

“Andy was the one I selected to play at Euro 1996, and I did not regret that because he was outstanding. He’s a cult hero at Ibrox, no doubt a Rangers legend. Just to be called ‘The Goalie’ tells you everything.

“The emphasis is on ‘The’ because they felt he was ‘The’ one – the best goalkeeper. I remember the late Tommy Burns, the manager of Celtic, saying Andy Goram single-handedly won the title for Rangers one season.”

Former Celtic players also paid tribute to Goram. Chris Sutton said: “Really sad news to hear of the passing of Andy Goram. Taken far too young. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

Former Celtic star John Hartson said: “Sorry to hear the sad passing of Andy Goram. Sending my condolences onto the Goram family.”

And ex-Celtic striker Pierre van Hooijdonk tweeted: “RIP Rangers legend Andy Goram. My condolences to his family.”

Goram’s former Manchester United team-mate Gary Neville said: “Terribly sad news about Andy Goram. RIP Andy. Love to all your family.”

Andy Goram shows a typically safe pair of hands in Rangers’ win against Alania Vladifafk in 1996 Champions League qualifier (Pic: SNS Group)

Manchester United said in a ­statement: “Manchester United send their heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of our former goalkeeper, Andy Goram.

“Our club joins the football world today in mourning his passing. Everyone at the club is thinking of Andy’s family, loved ones and former colleagues at this extremely sad time.”

In a 1999 supporters’ poll, he was voted the Greatest Rangers Goalkeeper of all time.

After his retirement, he was still a regular face around Ibrox on match days and still impressed fans with his goalkeeping prowess during memorable appearances in legends teams. His first Scottish club, Hibs, were also saddened by the news of his death. The club said: “Joining the Hibees in 1987 from Oldham Athletic, Goram kept a clean sheet on his debut in a 4-0 win over Dunfermline.

“His performances went from strength to strength and that, combined with his leadership skills, saw him become Club Captain.

“Not only was he key between the sticks, but he also achieved the unusual feat of scoring a goal in the Scottish Premiership.

“A huge kick-out caught out the opposing goalkeeper and flew into the net in a 3-1 home win against Morton.

“One thing that supporters will never forget is when he ‘defied logic’ against RFC Liège in Europe. He twisted mid-air to stop an Angelo Nijskens header.

“The thoughts of everyone at Hibernian FC are with Andy’s family and friends.”

Former Sky Sports pundit David Tanner penned a heartfelt tribute. He said: “Farewell to Scotland’s all-time number 1. I once asked The Goalie what style of play a new Rangers boss should use. His reply: ‘Just win.’

“The strength of his mentality is often overlooked. Andy Goram broke Tommy Burns’ heart. I imagine we’re all feeling that way today.”

The Scottish FA said: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the loss of legendary Scotland goalkeeper Andy Goram.

“The thoughts of everyone at the Scottish FA are with Andy’s family and friends at this time.”

Whatever they say on reckoning day, no one can say I led a boring life’

Andy Goram believed he was “blessed by my football career”.

In his biography, The Goalie: My Story, he said he had no regrets and was just “a normal punter who likes a drink and a laugh”.

He said his career and private life had been turbulent but he was left with no regrets as he looked back.

He wrote: “Whatever they say about me on reckoning day, they will never say that I led a boring life. I hope there are some chapters left yet but I already know I was here, and I made a mark.

“What will they put on my tombstone? ‘Here lies Andy Goram. He was dealt a hand, and he played it. No regrets.’

“That’ll do for me. I look back now and feel blessed by my football career. The seven years at Oldham, four at my dad’s club Hibs, then seven at Rangers, the team he loved; the adventures at Manchester United, Motherwell and Queen of the South; the 43 caps for Scotland and two European Championships: I loved it all.”

Andy Goram and Rangers teammates celebrate winning the Scottish Cup in 1992 (Pic: SNS Group)

He also said he was glad to be a fans’ favourite, never straying too far from his roots.

He said: “I never set out to be three-times married Andy Goram, supposed womaniser and hell-raiser.

“I came from a stable background, but my mum and dad ran pubs and clubs all their lives, so that was the environment I grew up in.

“It’s no surprise that I ended up a normal punter who likes a drink and a laugh.

“I look at players now who have done nothing – on both sides of the Old Firm – and they strut around Glasgow as if they think they own it.

“I hope I was never like that. I drank with the fans I brought trophies home to, and I think the supporters appreciated that. I will always be the man voted Rangers greatest-ever goalkeeper, and no one can take that away from me.

“I’m sure there are at least three ladies out there who’d agree with Tommy Burns when he said I’d broken his heart, but I can’t change that now.”

Not just back pages: The Goalie made headlines

Andy Goram was never far from the headlines during and even after his playing career – but not always for the right reasons.

In 2012, he confessed he was an alcoholic after his drinking started to spin out of control. At the time, he said: “I’d had enough. I’d been drinking for 32 years, since I was 15. I’ve had a good kick at it.”

He finally stopped drinking after his then-partner Elaine Mitchell ordered him out of the home they shared in Lanarkshire. He attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings after his heavy alcohol consumption also destroyed some of his closest friendships.

In later years, he said he was proud of his strong links with Rangers fans in Northern Ireland and dismissed claims of sectarianism as “nonsense”.

Goram regularly visited more than 100 Rangers supporters’ clubs in Northern Ireland including some on Belfast’s Shankill Road – a Protestant and Unionist stronghold.

He added: “I’ve never condoned sectarianism. Just because I have close links with Northern Ireland and been to the Shankill Road doesn’t mean I support bigotry or terrorism. I’ve loved going to Belfast, where the punters have treated me tremendously. Why should I be ashamed of that?”

Goram had pointed out that his close friendship with former Celtic star Frank McAvennie was evidence he wasn’t a bigot.

He also said he wouldn’t have married second wife Tracey, whom he met when he signed for Hibs in 1987, if he held sectarian beliefs.

Goram said: “People have tried to say I’m a bigot. It’s nonsense. I’ve got Catholic mates. Macca is one of my closest pals – my second wife, Tracey, was a Catholic.”