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Wednesday, 7 August, 2002, 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
Can fat footballers reach the top?
Players of Ruddock's girth could be a thing of the past
Neil Ruddock is transfer-listed by Swindon after arriving back at the club overweight.

Is the fuller figured player a thing of the past? Send us your fat footballing XI.


This debate is now closed.


The former Liverpool, Tottenham and West Ham star has struggled to keep his weight in check and only started 14 games for the Robins last season.

Players like Ruddock, Jan Molby and Paul Gascoigne have all played at the highest level.

But with the ever increasing pace of the Premiership and clubs employing strict dietary regimes, it would seem that athleticism is a key factor in becoming a successful Premiership player.

Have portly footballers had their day? Send us your fat footballing XI.


Players are now less in demand, many are looking for new clubs and squad sizes have been reduced due to the current financial climate. If someone is not fit for the job, there will be plenty willing to take their place: players cannot dictate to clubs as much as in the past overvalued world of the 1990's
Jim, UK

Footballers are treated as semi-gods and some are most arrogant people on earth. They earn big money, unjustifiably, therefore a few extra pounds and you're out
Dave S, UK


We threw pies at Neville Southall and he ate them!
Ady F, England

What it takes to be a good player is his performance, not his weight. That should be the truth, as long as he can continue to play well. Why should you be bothered by how fat he is? His performance comes first.
Hiro Ishiwata, Japan

We should create a fat league for these lads, I'd certainly be playing in it.
Kev Dean, W.Yorks

Remember Neville Southall turning out for Bradford against Leeds a couple of seasons ago. He must have been 17 stone, but kept it to a 1-1 draw. We threw pies at him and he ate them!
Ady F, England

Maybe Ruddock will get a transfer back to Spurs, after all they are a "big" club after supposed "big" players.
M Wood, Belgium

Football players get paid a lot for their trade. With that money, if they can't be bothered to keep fit, healthy and athletic, they should not be playing. It doesn't matter how much skill a player has, if he is not going to lead a healthy lifestyle, he should choose another career. This isn't about speed, as people like Sherringham and others have proved that quickness is not vital in football.
A Slater, England

An old favourite chunky player was Clyde Best at West Ham. A really big guy who could just steamroller through a defence (with or without the ball). He was amazingly quick for someone of his size (although like Micky Quinn probably not over more than about 10 yards!).
Simon Boon, Staines, UK


Flabby footballers are role models for the common man!
Neil Barton, England

As Razor gestured to the Brighton fans asking about pie consumption, it's actually more about knocking back pints. A great character and still a good footballer, but whilst a good ball-playing attacker doesn't have to be pacey, it can cost you in defence to be good but slow.

Anyway, Razor's entertainment value is usually seen from the dugout, and I am afraid that tells its own story.
Redrobbo, UK

Flabby footballers are role models for the common man!! How about Puskas for a start? My particular favourite was ex-Sunderland and Oldham legend Vic Halom.
Neil Barton, England

What is the point of Swindon transfer-listing Neil Ruddock? For a start, if he's overweight and unfit nobody will want to employ him as a professional athlete, let alone the fact that most clubs in the Nationwide League couldn't afford to take him on anyway.

I suspect that Swindon just want him off their wage bill, so if he's not keeping himself in condition, why not just go through the regular disciplinary processes that any employee who can't/won't do their job properly would face?
Phil Vaughan-Smith, UK

I agree with Swindon. They expect the salaries to be fat, not the players. We should consider this. Would it be fair for a fan whose club may be struggling, to have to watch their players wobbling around the pitch, failing to keep up with play? No, if footballers cannot take their highly paid jobs seriously, they should be dumped.
Baz, UK


If he gets out of Swindon I bet you he will be as thin as a whippet's tail within six months
Ed K, Swindon, UK

I find it hard to understand how Ruddock and Gazza had the time and will power to be fat. How you manage to play an hour and a half of football every week, not to mention train every day, and still make Mr Blobby look anorexic is beyond me.

If Neil Ruddock was on a proper training regime of a league club and STILL managed to keep his michelin collection, I'd be very surprised. Or maybe he's just big boned...
Ashley, UK

Of course there's a place in modern football for the 'salad dodgers'. It's called the Scottish Premier League.
Marc, England

So what if a few players have a few pounds extra here and there. At least it is better than being a bum-fluff chinned, pigeon-chested scrawny little oik.

Unfortunately I moved to Swindon three years ago, and see Mr Ruddock frequenting the "trendy" (in London five years ago) bars in the Old Town quite often - and fair play to him.

Swindon is such a boring miserable place the only thing you can do is eat bad fatty food and drink to pretend you are somewhere else, as there is nothing else to do. So they should leave off the poor bloke - he has a genuine reason. If he gets out of Swindon I bet you he will be as thin as a whippet's tail within six months.
Ed K, Swindon, UK

The best player I saw in the Second Division last season was Darren Caskey of Notts County. No Kate Moss admittedly, but to show awareness, skill and precision does not need a wasp-like waist. Isn't Notts County's nickname "the Pies"? Coincidence or what?
Nick, UK


I'd love to see his run (or waddle) the length of a pitch in his state
Craig Spencer, UK

There is nothing wrong with larger players, take Kevin Pressman at Sheffield Wednesday. He isn't exactly the slimmest player going but he is like a cat on steroids!
Mark Farnsworth, UK

Got to give it to Razor, how can someone be a professional footballer and then do that to themselves. I'd love to see his run (or waddle) the length of a pitch in his state. It's hilarious how much of a fatty he is now.
Craig Spencer, UK

All time Tubby XI (3-5-2). Joe Corrigan, Paul McGrath, Neil Ruddock, Julian Dicks, Jan Molby, Gazza, Maradona, Puskas, Thomas Brolin, Mick Quinn, Franny Lee.
Churchie, England

Most comments here are very fattist. Fattism is one of the remaining social evils, and has no room in football. kick fattism out of football!!
V Naraayn, UK

Fat-boy XI:
Wright (Everton), Watson (Everton), Unsworth (Everton), Ruddock (Swindon), Merson (Portsmouth), Gascoigne (Unattached), Le Tissier (Ex Southampton), Ginola (??), K Davies (Southampton), Viduka (Leeds) and David "His shorts will burst" Hirst (ex Sheff Wednesday pies and lager machine).
Mark, UK

The likes of Gazza and Neville Southall just proved that fat players can do it in the top flight! Plus, it's more entertaining watching a fat bloke ATTEMPTING to play football.
Jamie Pell, Middlesbrough, England


The days of the 'fat' players are over
Davie Mosley, Glasgow

It seems people forget that the greatest footballer of all time was a bit of a fatty - Maradona. The only Englishman who came close to him in terms of passing, touch and vision was of course another fatty - Gazza.

It's just unfashionable now. Because you're not trim does not mean you can't be the best. Managers, like the rest of society, think weight is some sort of disability. You may run like Bowyer, Beckham, and Gerrard but what's the point when you've got skill like Molby, Gazza et al?
Richard Day, England

The days of the 'fat' players are over. Footballers are now being turned into real athletes, with so much at stake and the pace that matches are played at. There has always been good ball players out there who were a bit podgy, but now they are being replaced by overrated players who have pace in abundance, but nothing else to their game.
Davie Mosley, Glasgow

Of course portly players can still large it! There're loads of flabby footballers playing at a high level. Titus Bramble, Paul Merson, James Beattie, Darren Moore, Paul Robinson and Kevin Pressman, to name but a few.
John Gibson, England

The barrel-chested Mark Viduka continues to be a hero for Leeds fans, despite eating all the pies. Also, Everton's David Unsworth is always at the front of the queue for the Big Shorts. There are also those players where you can see there's a fat bloke bursting to get out - Emile Heskey comes to mind.
David Gorman, England

Gascoigne, Molby and Franny Lee supplying the bullets for big Micky Quinn...dynamite! None of them were athletes, but all were uniquely brilliant. One final note; you don't see many fat Brazilians do you?
Chris, Yorkshire

Before Micky Quinn, Pompey had big Joe Laidlaw, who never looked like he had failed to ask for more. He may not have had blazing pace but he had a knack for scoring that they could use today.
Steve, USA


Mick Quinn was the fastest man on the planet - over three yards when in the opposition penalty area!
Simon, UK
The days of Micky Quinn, Gazza, Ruddock and co have all but disappeared, and the new breed of player is an all-round athlete. Players like Vieira, Gerrard, Beckham and Ferdinand are the future of the game, and none of the old chubby-boys would be able to keep up with the pace these days.

Mind you, Mick Quinn was the fastest man on the planet - over three yards when in the opposition penalty area!
Simon, UK

Fat boys 11: John Burridge; Roberto Carlos, Neil Ruddock, Steve Bruce, Denis Irwin; Matt Le Tissier, Gazza, Jan Molby, David Ginola; Robbie Fowler, Jimmy Greaves.
David Belcher, UK

With players being paid such large sums it's hard to imagine clubs will tolerate unfit players, no matter how skilful.
Tim, UK

He's fat, he's round, he's worth a million pound, Micky Quinn, Micky Quinn! Micky was a firm favourite with the Pompey fans despite his vast girth. If you've got the skill, who needs to be able to run a marathon?
Stuart, England

An overweight player may be able to make it in the lower divisions, but they would struggle in the Premiership or Division One, because the play is a lot quicker and players rely on pace rather than anything else.


Fat players can be a burden through their lack of fitness and discipline
Mark K, UK

If a defender makes a mistake then a fast forward is really going to punish him, weight can only have an advantage for the goal keeper, because it enables him to fill the goal more, and also win more fights in the box for the ball.
Craig, England

The days of the fat player have been over for decades. The Hungarian teams of the 1950s followed by successive Brazilian, German and Italian teams all placed an emphasis on fitness and athleticism in combination with technique, and that is reflected in the success they achieved.

One or two of the larger type may, from time to time, if they are particularly gifted, get through, but on the whole, good managers will recognise that they can be a burden through their lack of fitness and discipline.
Mark K, UK

Well all I can say is that they should go to a club where the pies aren't so nice.
S Take

You can hardly blame Ruddock. Faced with two grand's worth of tuck shop money burning a hole in his pocket, he's hardly going to go for the Lucozade and nutrigrain bar option, is he?

How some managers can complain I don't know. 'Tubby' Taylor calling Merson 'chubby' is a little unfair. Especially as the former England supremo looks like he's been putting away more than his fair share of second helpings in the Villa directors' box. Anyone fancy a chip?
Pete, UK


A good footballing brain is worth an extra five yards
Richard Dunbar, Portadown

I'm fat, but it doesn't stop me being the best player (allegedly) in my Sunday league side! Look at Molby, Barnes and co. They were of large proportion around the midrift, but very successful.
Steve "Fatty" Davis, Wales

Isn't he the ideal replacement for Ferdinand at Leeds? Tottenham old boy and past it (just like Barmby).
Andy Shanks, Yorkshire

Portadown Striker Vinny Arkins is considerably overweight, but that didn't stop him being top scorer and player of the season last year. Weight doest really make a difference. A good footballing brain is worth an extra five yards anyway, so Vinny has a five-yard head start on any opponent.
Richard Dunbar, Portadown, N Ireland

I think it would be a shame if the fat footballer became a thing of the past. There is a certain nobility about a player who doesn't conform to society's perception of the ideal body shape. Today's heroes like Beckham and Owen are lifeless and boring.

It'd be nice to have a few stars who after a match downed 15 pints of stout followed by a couple of donor kebabs. Football needs its characters. I'm counting on Richard 'Honey Monster' Dunne to have a stormer this year.
Roger Mee, Wales

My old PE teacher said that a good footballer makes the ball do all the running. Surely if you're a classy player then weight isn't an issue.
Martin, Wales


The days when you saw a player down the pub on Friday night downing 10 pints are now gone
Liam Cameron, England

It is a basic fact of sports science that if you are carrying excess weight it will adversely affect your athletic performance. This might not matter to you if you play for your local pub side, but if you play sport at the highest level it will.
JM, UK

When was the last time you seen an overweight football player in a world-class team? The truth is that it just does not happen anymore! Football is a game about athleticism and fitness. The days when you saw a player down the pub on Friday night downing 10 pints are now gone - you cant afford to be like that now.

This is a shame for players like Razor and Gazza, because they have always had weight problems, and you just cannot expect them to turn into some super-fit athlete.
Liam Cameron, England

Pace is the one attribute every squad must have in abundance. Skill on the ball and tackling ability are great, but if you can't catch the player you're chasing, your team's in trouble. So, sorry Gazza and all the other porky players out there - your days are numbered!
Phil, England

The game has moved on since Gazza, and certainly Molby, were in their prime. These players could cope as the game was much slower and less athletic. It is obvious that there is no place for overweight players any more.
Dave, UK

Neil Ruddock could have been a really good player; good in the air, an excellent passer of the ball and a great competitor but unfortunately he has always eaten too many pies. He's never been the quickest and he hasn't helped himself by being consistently overweight throughout his career.

In his early days at Liverpool, when he was in shape he was a good player, but when he's carrying a few pounds the double-chin and profuse sweating have shown he's not always been the most dedicated footballer.

Now he's been released, he may start to comfort eat - it might be worth taking a punt on shares in Mr Kipling.
Jon E, England

 VOTE RESULTS
Have fat footballers had their day?

Yes
 79.56% 

No
 20.44% 

5319 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

After Neil Ruddock is transfer-listed for being overweight, BBC Sport Online asks whether there is room for tubby players in football.
Having it large

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