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Tuesday, March 9, 1999 Published at 18:32 GMT


Sport: Football

Luther Blisset - anarchist hero

Blisset remains Watford's record league goal scorer with 148 strikes

When Luther Blisset was banging the goals in at impressive regularity during an illustrious professional career, he hardly suspected that one day he would be a cult hero among Italian anarchists.


Luther Blisset discusses his career in Italy with Radio 5 Live's Alan Robb
But, bizarrely, that is what he has become.

The former Watford, AC Milan and England striker has been adopted as a figurehead for a mysterious direct action group.

Little is known about the individuals involved - other than that they all call themselves "Luther Blisset".


[ image: Blisset in action for England against Scotland in 1984]
Blisset in action for England against Scotland in 1984
Blisset himself is aware of the situation - but despite being non-plussed over his emergence as a political icon, he seems flattered.

"This strange group has decided to use my name for their collective identity," said Blisset, who is now back at his first club Watford in a coaching role.

"They keep doing all sorts of things and I keep getting the credit or the blame for it."

'We are all Luther'

The anarchists first came into the public eye 18 months ago, when four youg Italians were stopped on a train without tickets.

When they were asked for their names they all replied, "Luther Blisset".

The quartet of activists were brought to court, still insisting this was their identity, and the case began to gain notoriety.

From there the movement has spiralled.

Luther Blisset - the anarchist grouping rather than the former goal ace - has even entered the world of literature, with books on, among other things, the Renaissance and a 16th century Pope.

Italian connection

Blisset is sure of one thing - that his resurrection in the world of anarchism is a result of his stint at Milan's San Siro in the 1980s, when he became one of the first English footballers to make it into the Italian first division.

"When I played for Milan I was one of the few black players in the league," he said, "so I think they must have chosen me for that reason."


[ image: Blisset has rejoined former manager Graham Taylor at Watford]
Blisset has rejoined former manager Graham Taylor at Watford
It is thought Blisset's name may have been used as a form of revenge against right-wing extremists who object to black players hitting the big time.

But that is merely one theory - and a visit to the anarchist websites hardly makes a strange situation any clearer.

"Luther Blissett is not a 'teamwork identity' as reported by the journalists; rather, it is a multiple single," one of the sites states.

"The 'Luther Blissetts' don't exist, only Luther Blissett exist. Today we can infuse ourselves with vitality by exploring any possibility of escaping the conventional identities.

"The struggle is still against the language of the powers-that-be, in order to create by merry pranks new links and break any old hierarchy."

So there's your answer, Luther.



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