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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 May, 2003, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
Fash focused on celebrity
By Phil Harlow

Former England striker John Fashanu
Fashanu won an FA Cup winners medal with Wimbledon in 1988
Since his retirement from playing, John Fashanu has maintained a high profile with a string of unorthodox career moves and media appearances.

The former Wimbledon and Aston Villa striker's latest appearance in the spotlight came after he denied newspaper reports that he fixed football matches.

Before that, Fashanu made a big impression with both the viewers and his fellow stars on "I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out Of Here!" where his eccentric behaviour marked him out as one of the more entertaining contestants.

Never one to opt for the obvious, Fashanu's use of martial arts routines and his repeated mantra of "focus" saw him singled out no less than four times to undergo humiliating trials to earn his hungry fellow celebs their meals.

And his appearance in an Australian jungle with the like of 1980s pop star Toyah Wilcox and ballet dancer Wayne Sleep was another in a long line of unusual career choices since his retirement from football.

Taking in stints as presenter of popular gameshow Gladiators, spokesman for Unicef, sport ambassador for Nigeria and chairman of the Nigerian Premier League, Fashanu could never be accused of predictability.

And that's before considering his role in Nigeria's abortive attempt to host Miss World, an unsuccessful takeover bid at Northampton, or his current position as chairman of Welsh champions Barry Town.

Operating his Fash Ventures business out of the back of a light shop in Golders Green, north London, Fashanu is not one to undersell his talents.

The 40-year-old claims to be setting up a deal with Scottish giants Rangers to use Barry Town as a feeder club, although Rangers say they have no knowledge of any such negotiations.

John Fashanu in 2002
Fash pleads his case but he failed to take control at Northampton
Fashanu's hopes of having the Welsh champions' games broadcast to 53 African nations and China have also turned out to be somewhat wide of the mark.

Delayed-feed footage of Barry Town will be shown in China and Nigeria, but the other 52 will have to do without.

The great British public, seemingly fascinated by his idiosyncratic approach to the show, selected him for various trials including the Bridge of Doom (he suffers from a fear of heights) and the Snakepit (he is terrified of snakes).

Not that any of this has dented Fashanu's famous sense of self-belief.

"I am pleased that they picked me to lead the way," he said after being chosen for the first trial.

"We need the food - I've got to go for it," he added heroically.

And when asked if he thought the voters were picking on him, Fash responded: "No. I try to focus and be positive. They're picking me because they want to see me again."

Fashanu certainly has a lasting hold over his former Wimbledon team-mates, as player after player declined to comment to this website about his performance in the show.

Fash the Cash: John Fashanu's varied career
1979-1996: professional footballer
1992-1999: Gladiators presenter
2002: unsuccessful bid to takeover Northampton
2002-present: Barry Town FC chairman
2003: "I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out of Here!" contestant
But Fash, who won two England caps, can be assured of the support of one corner of South Wales.

"To be fair, he's faced the challenges head on and got on with them," said Barry Town manager Kenny Brown.

"He's gone into it and he's got onto the front pages of all the papers. It's all good publicity for the club. If people didn't know that John was the chairman of Barry Town, they do now.

"I don't think he's in it for his own glory - it raises money for charity and he's all for that.

"As a chairman, he's very positive and has got good ideas on how the club can improve and grow."

Fashanu denies football fixing
27 Jul 03  |  UK News

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