Grobbelaar plays for country despite match-fixing charges

Glenn Moore reports on the professional prospects of three players facing bribery allegations
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The Independent Online
Bruce Grobbelaar is expected to play for his country on Sunday despite being charged with conspiring to fix football matches.

The Southampton goalkeeper is due to play for Zimbabwe in an African Nations Cup qualifier in Cameroon. Leo Mugabe, chairman of the Zimbabwean football association, said last night that the association supported Grobbelaar and intended to play him. Grobbelaar can play because the Football Association in England have not suspended Grobbelaar and the other players charged - John Fashanu and Hans Segers.

The FA said it was "a matter for the individual clubs to decide whether or not any of the three footballers should play". In November, the FA charged Grobbelaar on two counts relating to the allegations but suspended its inquiry when Hampshire police took up the matter. They have not charged Fashanu or Segers. Grobbelaar is thus likely to be in the Southampton side when the English season starts on 19 August. Brian Truscott, the club secretary, said the club "had maintained a consistent position. Until the relevant charges are admitted or proven we will continue to support Bruce. It has taken nine months for charges to be brought and the case is unlikely to be heard before his contract expires." Grobbelaar's contract expires next June.

Mr Truscott said Grobbelaar would be regarded as available for selection unless the club was instructed otherwise. Segers and Fashanu are less likely to start the season. Segers was omitted from the Wimbledon side towards the end of last season, partly because of his poor form. But the club are unlikely to suspend him unless ordered to do so. Segers said: "I am really looking forward to the start of the season. I still hope to be in the team at the start."

Fashanu spent much of last season injured and is in dispute with his club, Aston Villa. He is unlikely to feature prominently in their plans whatever the outcome of the case.

The players' union, the Professional Footballers Association, said it would support the trio. Gordon Taylor, chief executive, said they were "innocent until proven guilty."

BRUCE GROBBELAAR

Eccentric, flamboyant Zimbabwean whose goalkeeping combines agile brilliance with bizarre errors. Now 37, he is winding down his career with Southampton after 13 successful years with Liverpool.

Arriving at Liverpool in 1981, via Vancouver and Crewe, he helped win six league championships and the European Cup. Having fought as a Rhodesian conscript in Zimbabwe's war of independence he never subscribed to the maxim that football is more important than life and death. He thus clowned in matches and played up to spectators - who idolised him.

In recent years he has been reconciled with Zimbabwe's black majority government and now plays for the national team. Has made unsuccessful business ventures there and told a court last summer he was struggling financially. So popular that despite the investigation, Sainsburys recently used him in an advertising campaign.

JOHN FASHANU

As sophisticated a footballer as you could wish to meet - except on a football pitch. Off the field the 32-year-old is successful self- made businessman, popular television presenter (host of ITV's Gladiators), and United Nations special ambassador. On it, he has been described as bringing the "rolling maul into football" and has been involved in tackles that finished one player's career and threatened the eyesight of another.

Born in London of Nigerian parentage he was brought up by Dr Barnado's and foster parents. Came to prominence with Wimbledon after spells with Norwich, Lincoln and Millwall and won two England caps. A surprise pounds 1m transfer took him to Aston Villa last year. He is currently in a contract dispute with the Birmingham club.

Lives in London with Melissa Kassamapsi, who he married earlier this year, and who was also charged yesterday.

HANS SEGERS

Least-known of the three, but another distinctive figure in the generally homogenous ranks of footballers. Dutch goalkeeper who was brought to England by Nottingham Forest in 1984 before joining Wimbledon four years later. Now 33, he also runs a tie-making business, Ties International, which advertises at football grounds.

Has a propensity, like Grobbelaar, to rush upfield from his goal and has even appeared in the opposition penalty area at corner kicks. Was dropped from the team by Wimbledon towards the end of last season - but not, according to the club, because of the bribery allegations.

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