Sporting Heroes: Practice made perfect sense for Craig Johnston
Saturday 11 January 2014
When managing Middlesbrough in 1975, Jack Charlton proclaimed one of the club’s youngsters “the worst player he’d ever seen”. That player was a 15-year-old Australian called Craig Johnston.
He had just arrived in England and his parents had sold their house to raise the money. Not wanting to tell them the truth, Johnston pretended “Big Jack loved me”.
Having overcome polio when he was six, nearly losing his leg in the process, Johnston was not about to quit. Needing to improve drastically, he devised a unique training regime using 10 rubbish bins as obstacles to dribble round and targets on a wall for shooting practice.
What a difference the training made. Johnston was chosen for the first team at Boro and in 1981 became the most expensive footballer in England for a day, moving to Liverpool for £570,000. Johnston would spend seven happy years at Liverpool, scoring 39 goals in 224 appearances.
In 1988, he retired early. That year his sister had contracted a serious illness and Johnston insisted on returning to Australia to provide her with the care she needed.
At this point, he tried his hand at a few different things. He created a successful game show called “The Main Event”. He also invented software to enable hotels to charge items from the minibar to guests’ bills automatically, a system called “The Butler”, and patented the design.
What he is arguably best known for, however, is being the inventor of adidas’s Predator football boot. He filmed Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who both used adidas boots, using Predators with increased performance; adidas pounced and never looked back.
Latest in Sport
The muddy truth of the Christmas Truce game
Alexis Sanchez video: Turns out the Arsenal forward is brilliant at playing the piano too
James Milner lives up to 'boring' tag in brilliant Manchester City Christmas video
Sir Alex Ferguson on Jose Mourinho: 'He's good looking, speaks five languages, wins everything - it's unfair'
Documentary recalling Crazy Gang's 'thuggery' has Dave Bassett up in arms
- 1 North Korean prison officers 'cooked prisoner's baby and fed it to their dogs', more horrific accounts from UN report reveal
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Mayor says there should be 'no comparison' to Ferguson
- 3 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 4 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 5 Isis 'did not shoot down coalition-led warplane' before capturing Jordanian pilot, says US
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever