The New Year Honours: Mabbutt receives MBE: Awards for footballers from different eras

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The Independent Online
LIFE became sweeter for Gary Mabbutt yesterday when the Tottenham Hotspur footballer was included in the New Year's Honours list. The 32- year-old Spurs captain, who began an exemplary League career with Bristol Rovers in 1978, was made an MBE for services to his sport.

Mabbutt, who is recovering from a badly broken jaw sustained in a collision with Wimbledon's John Fashanu five weeks ago, said the honour was an inspiration. 'I was convinced the year was going to end on a sour note but now I'm really looking forward to 1994,' he said. 'I can't wait to get the all-clear to start playing again.'

The defender renowned for fair play, who had an eye socket smashed in three places and a cheekbone broken in four in the incident, will meet surgeons today to discuss two further operations to correct his injuries, and surgery could take place next week.

An equally popular footballer from another era, Nat Lofthouse, was awarded an OBE in a list reflecting the Prime Minister's love of sport. More than 30 years after his retirement, the former Bolton Wanderers player, who was capped 33 times and scored 30 goals for England, received the tribute to accompany his nickname, 'Lion of Vienna', which he received for his heroic performance for England against Austria in 1952.

Lofthouse is now president of the club with which he has been grandly associated for more than 50 years.

There was honour for winners and losers alike. Bob Scott, who led Manchester's bid for the 2000 Olympics, which were ultimately awarded to Sydney, was granted a knighthood, while in the field of cricket, the captain of the World Cup-winning England women's XI, Karen Smithies, received an OBE.

Scott worked on Manchester's bid for nine years; Smithies led her team to triumph over New Zealand, in the final at Lord's in August, while her male counterparts were being trounced by Australia.

Scott said yesterday: 'I am receiving this honour on behalf of Manchester.' Smithies said: 'The award is a big surprise - but I see it as something for the whole of women's cricket. It can only help improve the profile of our sport.

Two inspirational rugby union players, Gavin Hastings and Peter Winterbottom, were also rewarded. Hastings, the Scotland captain who led the Lions in New Zealand in the summer, becomes an OBE, while Winterbottom, England's most capped forward who retired from international rugby after the Lions tour, was made an MBE.

NEW YEAR'S HONOURS LIST: Leading sports figures: Knighthood: Bob Scott (Manchester Olympic bid chief). Dame Commander: Marea Hartman (athletics). CBE: Lt Col John Stephenson (cricket); E W Swanton (cricket). OBE: Gavin Hastings (rugby union); Nat Lofthouse (football); Karen Smithies (cricket). MBE: Harry Brind (cricket); Gary Mabbutt (football); Stephen Martin (hockey); Pat Roberts (golf); Peter Winterbottom (rugby union); Ian Smith (New Zealand, cricket); Howie Tamati (New Zealand, rugby league).

(Photograph omitted)