I would never let fans down - Grobbelaar

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The Independent Online
The former Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar told the match-fixing trial yesterday that he had never tried to throw a football game in his career.

Mr Grobbelaar, 39, told Winchester Crown Court that football was now a business and no one went out on the field looking to chuck a match. "There is no way I would throw a game," he told Rodney Klavan, QC, for the defence.

The goalkeeper, now with Plymouth Argyle, said the allegations of match rigging had been "hanging over" him for three years. He denied receiving any money to fix matches from a fellow defendant Heng Suan Lim - known as Richard - to throw a match, though he had received sums for forecasting results.

Asked about a Liverpool-Manchester United game which was a 3-3 draw, the footballer said it had been "one of my best performances". He added: "I do not think any goalkeeper could have saved any of the six goals scored."

Mr Grobbelaar, Mr Lim and the former Wimbledon striker John Fashanu deny receiving or giving money in a conspiracy to influence the outcome of football matches. Mr Lim, Mr Fashanu and the former Wimbledon goalkeeper Hans Segers, deny a similar charge. Mr Grobbelaar denies a separate charge of accepting pounds 2,000 from his former business partner, Christopher Vincent, to influence a game.

Mr Grobbelaar said that by the 1993-94 season he realised he was near the end of his career but denied being unhappy at his salary from Liverpool.

He denied receiving pounds 40,000 for fixing a Liverpool-Newcastle match in a meeting with John Fashanu at the latter's house. Liverpool lost the match 3-0.

Mr Grobbelaar said that he received no money and said Mr Vincent was not telling the truth about this meeting which had occurred to discuss a match for the benefit of the victims of an air crash in Zambia involving that country's football team. The footballer said he had paid pounds 20,000 to Mr Vincent but this had come from his "sock drawer" and was the proceeds of public speaking engagements and payments in cash from friends from Africa whose bills he had earlier settled.

Mr Grobbelaar told the court he had met Mr Vincent in Chester in 1992 and was asked to invest in a safari tourist business which he thought was a "good idea", and the following day paid more than pounds 5,000 as an initial investment. He agreed the two later became close friends. However, over the next two years, Mr Grobbelaar had become concerned about where the money he was investing was going, and after a meeting in July 1994 the business deal had ended with Mr Grobbelaar having lost an estimated pounds 60,000.

Mr Grobbelaar said he would receive around pounds 250 for forecasting matches for Mr Lim and agreed that Mr Lim had paid him pounds 1,500 for this forecasting help at the Hilton Hotel in London the night before a Liverpool-Norwich game.

Earlier, the court had heard how Mr Grobbelaar had played football in Durban, South Africa, before moving to Crewe in England and then Liverpool - the club he had always wanted to play for.

Mr Klavan asked him about his presence at the Heysel stadium disaster in 1985 and at the Hillsborough disaster four years later. Mr Grobbelaar said that after the Heysel match he had considered giving up the game. At Hillsborough he had seen the agony on the faces of fans. He agreed that he would never want to let his fans down because he said he knew they would never forget that and would always ask him why he had done it. The case continues.