The Hoddle Sacking: The Man: A long, winding road to nowhere

The path to salvation proved too rocky for a man who stumbled over the many pitfalls.

FOR A man in search of spiritual fulfilment, Glenn Hoddle demonstrated in recent months an unfortunate propensity for taking the wrong turning. At a few minutes before 7pm last night - when a formal FA announcement confirmed his departure - it became apparent that Hoddle's latest amble in the wrong direction had led to his dismissal as the England coach.

Even before the weekend furore over his claim that disabled people are paying for the sins they committed in a previous life, Hoddle appeared to be meandering off the straight and narrow in both his personal and professional lives.

Before the World Cup, his marriage to childhood sweetheart and mother of his three children Anne was effectively ended - on the grounds of his adultery - at a brief courtroom hearing under the "quickie" divorce procedure.

District Judge Moorhouse, sitting at the Principal Registry of the Family Division in London, took just a few seconds to grant a decree nisi. In what looks an increasingly pungent irony, given this weekend's events, the decree was granted on the ground that the marriage had irretrievably broken down as a result of Hoddle's adultery.

In written documents, Mrs Hoddle the petitioner, asked to briefly state her reasons for saying that her husband had committed adultery, said: "The respondent admitted it in his acknowledgement of service and had previously admitted it to me." In a document filed with the court, Hoddle himself, asked if he admitted the alleged adultery, answered: "Yes".

To the outside world the couple's 18-year partnership had looked rock solid, so much so that the Hoddles were picked to star in a `happy family' television advertisement for Shredded Wheat.

But in October 1997 the happy image was shown to be a distortion when it emerged that the couple were separating.

Hoddle left the pounds 350,000 family home at Ascot, Berkshire, moving into a spare room of old friend and faith healer Eileen Drewery, who was later to have a controversial role helping the England squad. Ironically, news of the break-up came just days after what was arguably the highlight of Hoddle's managerial career, when his England team achieved a goalless draw with Italy in Rome, in a match which secured their qualification for last year's World Cup finals in France.

Announcing the separation at the time, the Football Association said that it was unconnected with Hoddle's England responsibilities, and that nobody else was involved.

During the course of the year, however, press reports linked Hoddle with former air hostess Vanessa Shean, herself in the process of separating from her husband.

Nobody was named as the other party in the Hoddles' court documents, however.

If 1999 did not start happily for Hoddle, that was little more than a continuation of the problems which had troubled him throughout 1998.

Headlines last year were dominated by his links to Drewery, his World Cup diary, in which he disclosed Paul Gascoigne's "raging" reaction to being left out of the squad for the games in France, and his contract renegotiations after England's elimination from the World Cup.

To the bemusement of the sports media, Hoddle introduced Drewery to the England team in a bid to improve their performance. After the World Cup, Hoddle said he believed Drewery would have made the 20 per cent difference between success and failure if she had accompanied the England team to France.

Critics suggested that practising penalty kicks - England were eliminated in a shoot-out against Argentina - might have been more useful.

But only last September, Hoddle declared he would not tolerate any attempt by the Football Association to cut short Drewery's involvement with the national squad.

During the World Cup, Hoddle was strongly criticised for explaining publicly the reasons why the Manchester United midfielder David Beckham was initially left out of the England starting line-up. Critics accused him of undermining Beckham's confidence.

The England coach subsequently made more than pounds 200,000 from his World Cup diary, in which he disclosed dressing-room secrets. The affair sparked reports that players felt let down by his betrayal of confidence.

When the England captain, Paul Ince, was sent off during his side's 2- 1 defeat by Sweden last September, Hoddle insisted the player's apparent V sign to the crown as he departed was "not an issue". The FA disagreed, and charged Ince with misconduct.

There were numerous reports of dissent among players growing restless at Hoddle's management style when the England team underperformed in a game against Luxembourg later in the year.

Despite all the criticism, Hoddle managed to hold on to his job, his position buttressed with the football-following public by their fond memories of the peerless flair which characterised his own playing career with Tottenham, Monaco and England, and in private by his personal faith.

That faith - fuelled by Drewery, advanced by Cliff Richard and the organisation Christians in Sport - clearly runs deep, apparently crystalised by a trip to Bethlehem with England.

"I could have walked out of that cave, like the rest of the England lads and thought that it was a fantastic experience," Hoddle recalled after his visit to the site. "But there was something more, there was a very strong spiritual feeling."

But with his interest in faith-healing and reincarnation, it is a faith which defies conventional classification.

Now that fascination with reincarnation, and his bizarre suggestion that sinners may have to pay a penalty in the form of physical disability in their next life, has brought about the most bizarre fall from grace suffered by any England coach.

THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF GLENN HODDLE'S CAREER

1958 Born 27 October, Hayes, Middlesex

1974 Signed as apprentice by Tottenham after playing for Harlow and Essex Schools sides

1975 Turns professional, makes debut at 18 as substitute against Norwich

1976 Scored on full debut against Stoke

1979 Scored on England senior debut against Bulgaria in European Championship qualifying match at Wembley,

the first of his eight England goals

1981 Won FA Cup with Spurs, beating Manchester City

1982 Collected League Cup runners-up medal after defeat by Liverpool. Scored

in FA Cup final and replay against QPR to collect his second winner's medal.

1987 Played in FA Cup final defeat by Coventry then made pounds 750,000 move to Monaco. Playing alongside Mark Hate- ley, inspires Monaco to French league title within 12 months

1988 Won last of 53 England caps in 3-1 defeat by the USSR - Bobby Robson's third- successive humiliation of the European Championship finals in Germany

1990 Retired through injury

1991 Made comeback at Chelsea reserves followed by appointment as Swindon player-manager in April, replacing former Spurs team- mate Ossie Ardiles

1993 Scored first goal in 4-3 play- off final win against Leicester which took the Wiltshire club into the Premiership. One month later quit Swindon to take over at Chelsea

1994 Took Chelsea to FA Cup final where they lost 4-0 to Manchester United

1995 Made final appearance in 2-1 home win over Arsenal. Signed Ruud Gullit from Sampdoria

1996 Led Chelsea to FA Cup semi- finals in which they lose 2-1 to Manchester United. Appointed England manager after Terry Venables stepped down following Euro 96

1997 Steered England to victory in Tournoi de France with victories over Italy and France. England top their group and qualify for World Cup finals in France after 0-0 draw in final match in Rome

Dec Hoddle claims his reported comments about Michael Owen not being the finished article were misinterpreted

1998

April Hoddle threatens the psychic Uri Geller with legal action after he claims Hoddle and faith healer Eileen Drewery, had visited him before he was appointed England coach and makes allegations about what happened at the meeting

May It emerges Hoddle has left Paul Gascoigne out of the World Cup squad

June England go out of France '98 in the second round, losing to Argentina on penalties. Hoddle is insistent that with a little luck, England could have won the tournament.

Aug Hoddle's World Cup diary causes a storm. Revelations, including Gascoigne's reaction to learning he would miss the World Cup and his attack on Chris Sutton after he refused to play for England B, are criticised by leading figures in the game such as Alex Ferguson, Bryan Robson and

the PFA

1999

1 Feb Insists he will not quit despite calls for his resignation over comments about disabled people

2 Feb Sacked by FA in the wake of his comments about disabled people that were printed in The Times

HONOURS

Player

Career: Tottenham 1975-87 Played 494, Goals 110. Monaco 1987-90. Swindon 1991-93 P75 G3. Chelsea 1993-95 P48 G1.

Honours: FA Cup winner 1981, 1982; Runner-up 1987. League Cup runner- up 1982. Uefa Cup winner 1984. French League winner 1988. Division One promotion 1993. England: 53 senior caps, 8 goals. Under-21: 12 caps. B level: 2 caps.

Manager

Career: Swindon 1991-93. Chelsea 1993-96. England 1996-1999.

Honours: First Division promotion play-off winner with Swindon in 1993; FA Cup runner-up with Chelsea in 1994.

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