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Last Updated: Friday, 30 April, 2004, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Wallace battles with MS
WALLACE FACTFILE
Danny Wallace
Born: 21/01/1964
Clubs: Southampton, Man Utd, Birmingham City
England caps: 1
When Danny Wallace signed for Manchester United in 1989 after 10 years at Southampton, the future of one of England's most talented wingers could not have looked brighter.

Instead there followed a succession of injuries.

Seven years later, following a move to Birmingham City, Wallace was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).

"It was a bit of a shock really," Wallace, 40, told BBC Sport.

"But I think being diagnosed with MS was more of a relief.

"It was good to know all these injuries I was receiving weren't my fault. I think the MS had a lot to do with it."

Wallace was one of Saints' most exciting players, making more than 300 appearances for the club between 1980 and 1989.

He became the youngest ever Southampton first-team player when he made his debut at the age of 16.

The injuries were getting worse and worse - pretty soon I could hardly walk
Danny Wallace

His electric performances soon brought him to the attention of England boss Bobby Robson, and he scored on his first and only international appearance against Egypt in 1986.

In 1988 Wallace made history again when he and his two brothers, Rod and Ray, played alongside each other in a First Division match for the Saints.

A 1.2m move to Manchester United in September 1989 should have been the start of an exciting new chapter in Wallace's career.

But despite winning the FA Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup under Sir Alex Ferguson, his time at Old Trafford soon turned into a nightmare.

He said: "I had a lot of injuries at United. In the first few years the injuries were normal, everyday hamstring or calf problems.

"But as it got towards the end of my career with United I started to get injured a lot more frequently than I should have been."

A move to Birmingham followed, but in an 18-month spell at the club Wallace managed just 12 games.

Danny Wallace
Wallace's Man Utd career was blighted by injury

He said: "The injuries were getting worse and worse. Pretty soon I could hardly walk."

In 1996, Wallace finally accepted his career as a professional footballer was over when he was diagnosed with MS.

"It was really, really frustrating," Wallace said.

"I wanted to carry on playing football and to be forced out of the game was more frustrating than anything.

"But the diagnosis came as a relief.

"I just needed to know that it wasn't really my fault and something caused me to stop playing football."

Wallace has been granted a benefit game on 17 May at St Mary's stadium, when a Southampton XI will play an All-Star XI.

A host of stars are expected to feature, including Matt Le Tissier, John Barnes, Paul Gascoigne, Peter Beardsley and Gordon Strachan.

Money raised from the game will go to Wallace himself, and to local MS charities.

"The response has been fantastic," Wallace said.

"I really appreciate everything that Southampton and the players have done for me.

"I've not seen some of these players for years, and I can't wait to catch up with them. It's going to be an emotional day."

  • Tickets to Danny Wallace's testimonial are available now from the Southampton website, priced 15 for adults, 5 for children, disabled and seniors, and free to MS sufferers.




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