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Tuesday, 31 October, 2000, 11:41 GMT
Collymore's familiar story

By BBC Sport Online's Simon Austin.

Stan Collymore's wonderful performance on his Bradford City debut seemed to be the latest instalment of a well-rehearsed serial.

The plot goes something like this. The enigmatic striker leaves a club acrimoniously, having fallen out with manager, players and fans, moves on to pastures new with experts telling us this is his last chance, and then grabs a fantastic debut-goal to confound his critics.

His new boss tells everyone how wonderful Stan is and how he has turned a corner in his career.

The 29-year-old played his part to perfection against Leeds at Valley Parade on Sunday.

Stan Collymore
Collymore scores spectacularly for Bradford
He scored Bradford's goal in a 1-1 draw with a spectacular and acrobatic overhead kick from 10 yards out.

At the end of the match his manager Chris Hutchings duly read out the right lines.

"He certainly couldn't have started out any better," he said. "I am delighted with his goal and his all-round contribution. The most important thing is that he does his talking on the pitch."

Turned sour

But observers could be excused a little scepticism, as the happy start to the story has often turned sour in the past.

Collymore moved from Nottingham Forest to Liverpool for 8.5m in the summer of 1995.

He had been so unpopular with his previous team-mates that they refused to congratulate him when he scored.

Stan Collymore
Gesturing to the press box at Filbert Street
He marked his Liverpool debut, against Sheffield Wednesday at Anfield, with the customary stunning goal.

Collecting the ball 30 yards out, he languidly struck a curling left-footed shot that easily evaded Kevin Pressman.

He went on to score 19 goals for Liverpool, but eventually exhausted Roy Evans' patience by refusing to move to Merseyside from Staffordshire, missing training and continually carping in the press.

Anfield staff were not unhappy when the divisive player moved to Aston Villa for 6m in 1997.

Lavish hat-trick

He started his Villa Park career in unspectacular fashion, but when John Gregory took over in March 1998 we were again told that the Cannock-born player was drinking at the last chance saloon.

Collymore responded by scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over Liverpool, but soon fell out of favour and was placed in the reserves. This and several off-the-field problems led to him being admitted to the Priory clinic for treatment for depression.

Stan Collymore
Kissing Villa's badge after sending-off v Liverpool
So then on to Leicester City, where Collymore scored a lavish hat-trick on his Filbert Street debut.

Collymore said he adored the club and the fans, but when Peter Taylor arrived at the start of this season and refused to guarantee him a first-team slot, the love-in ended.

The final straw was a half-time bust-up with Trevor Benjamin during a reserve match.

Bradford are deliriously happy to have Collymore at the moment, but he showed characteristic behaviour by goading the visiting Leeds fans after his goal.

Bantams fans will be hoping that he doesn't now act out the unsavoury instalments of what is becoming a familiar tale.

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See also:

30 Oct 00 |  Bradford City
Collymore may face FA charge
29 Oct 00 |  Sports Talk
Has Bradford's gamble paid off?
29 Oct 00 |  Eng Prem
Leeds held by Bradford
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