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Friday, 16 June, 2000, 21:08 GMT 22:08 UK
Guscott: The darling of Twickenham
Jeremy Guscott's MBE for services to rugby union caps a remarkable career that made him one of the biggest household names to emerge from the sport.
A potent threat to any side's defence, he formed a world record centre pairing of 43 Tests with fellow high-profile centre Will Carling.
In 65 Test matches Guscott claimed 30 tries, leaving him second in England's all-time list behind wing Rory Underwood.
But he provided much more than mere points to the national team.
Guscott gave an often dour side a much-needed element of glamour, providing a forward-dominated outfit with some sensational running from behind the scrum.
He was the darling of the Twickenham crowd and no-one in a team full of rugby heroes was able to capture the imagination of supporters in quite the way he did.
His glittering highlights included back-to-back Five Nations Grand Slams in 1991 and 1992, and narrow defeat to Australia in the final of the second World Cup.
But arguably his greatest achievement came on the British Lions tour of South Africa in 1997.
The Lions - written off by the South African press and public - had won the first Test and in a nail-biting second and deciding match it was Guscott who clinched a stunning 18-15 victory with a last-gasp drop-goal.
Still going strong at the age of 34, Guscott's twilight years in the top flight were cut short by the serious groin injury that had destroyed his 1993-94 season and ultimately ended his England career during last year's World Cup.
When the veteran centre announced his decision to quit, England coach Clive Woodward led the tributes, saying: "Jerry Guscott epitomised the best of England rugby...he has been an invaluable support to younger players and an England centre to remember."
Throughout his playing career, Guscott always exhibited two distinct sides to his character - breathtaking arrogance and studied nonchalance in equal measure.
It was a combination that would win him his fair share of detractors, but few would deny that he was one of the most sparkling talents ever to grace the game.
Former England team-mate Stuart Barnes summed up the player's personality when he wrote: "He plays with his cards close to his chest and a sliver of a smile. Is it bluff or not?
"The composed gambler in him made Guscott such an adored, and in some circles unpopular personality."
Bath born-and-bred, Guscott overcame early problems, including being expelled from Ralph Allen comprehensive school in Bath, to realise his extraordinary talent.
Unlike so many of his team-mates, he did not hail from the public school, university-educated elite. But rugby, he has admitted, proved his making and his salvation.
Always a precocious sporting talent at school and a member of Bath RFC since the age of seven, it was not long before the centre broke into the top flight of the domestic game.
He erupted onto the international scene when he made his England debut in 1989, scoring three tries against Romania and earning instant acclaim.
Away from the then amateur game, he paid his way in life working as a bricklayer and later doing public relations for British Gas.
Then came the lucrative modelling work as he cashed in on his cool, laid-back image.
The advent of professionalism allowed him to concentrate full-time on his sport, with Bath's domination of the domestic game bringing a host of medals.
After his retirement in 1999, the Bath star's life beyond Test rugby seemed assured, with a budding television career and a background in modelling keeping him in the public eye.
But a six-second long exchange with antiques dealer Kenneth Jones on 24 March 1999 threatened to overshadow everything with a conviction for assault.
After 20 hours of evidence, the jury was presented with a choice between Guscott the courteous, laid back veteran of English rugby's glory years, or Guscott the aloof, arrogant egotist.
In the end, the jury decided the rugby star was not capable of assaulting someone just for stepping out in front of his car and he was acquitted - a decision that virtually assured his recognition in the honours list.
"It is like winning a Grand Slam or going on tour with the Lions and winning a series - it hasn't quite sunk in," said Guscott of his MBE.
"I can look back on my rugby career and say I've had some great times, and this is a great way to remember it all. Right now I'm the proudest person in the world."
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