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Famous Like Me > Footballer > I > Paul Ince

Profile of Paul Ince on Famous Like Me

Name: Paul Ince  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 21st October 1967
Place of Birth: Ilford
Profession: Footballer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Paul Emerson Carlyle Ince (born Ilford, London, October 21, 1967) is a football player who won numerous honours with Manchester United and became the first black player to captain the England team.

Ince joined his boyhood club West Ham United on leaving school and made his debut in the first team at the age of 19, coming on as a substitute in a 4-0 defeat at Newcastle United. The following season he began to establish himself as a regular in the midfield, proving himself to have all-round qualities of pace, stamina, uncompromising tackling and good passing ability. He also packed a powerful shot, and was awarded with England under-21 honours to go with the youth caps he acquired as an apprentice.

In August 1988, an eventful season for Ince began. In a struggling West Ham side, he shot to national recognition with two stunning goals in a wholly unexpected 4-1 win over champions Liverpool in the League Cup, and continued to score goals as the Hammers reached the semi-finals while having real trouble finding any form in the League. West Ham lost to Luton Town in the semi-finals and, despite frequent displays of individual brilliance from Ince, were relegated at the end of the season.

Ince played just once in Division Two the following season before completing a highly-controversial transfer to Manchester United for one million pounds. The move was controversial because Ince had been photographed in a Manchester United kit long before the transfer was complete, and this photograph appeared in the Daily Express. Ince received hateful abuse from West Ham United fans and quickly sorted out the finalities for the move to Old Trafford, though endured further trouble when the deal was delayed after he failed his initial medical examination.

In a recent article in Four Four Two magazine, when answering questions about his career from readers, he got his chance to explain the story:

"I spoke to Alex Ferguson and the deal was close to being done. I then went on holiday, and my agent at the time, Ambrose Mendy, said it wasn't worth me coming back to do a picture in a United shirt when the deal was completed, so I should do one before I left, and it would be released when the deal was announced. Lawrence Luster of the Daily Star took the picture and put in the library. Soon after, their sister paper, the Daily Express, were looking for a picture of me playing for West Ham, and found the one of me in the United shirt in the pile. They published it and all hell broke loose.

"I came back from holiday to discover West Ham fans were going mad. It wasn't really my fault. I was only a kid, I did what my agent told me to do, then took all the crap for it."

Ince eventually made his Manchester United debut in a 5-1 win over Millwall and (despite peculiarly wearing the No.2 shirt all season) became a strong presence in the midfield alongside long-serving captain Bryan Robson and fellow new signing Neil Webb. United won the FA Cup in his first season, defeating Crystal Palace 1-0 in a replay at Wembley after initially drawing 3-3.

As Robson's career subsequently wound down, Ince became the fulcrum of the United midfield, with snapping tackles, raking passes and some tremendously hit shots, though he wasn't too prolific a goalscorer.

He won his second winners' medal when United defeated Barcelona in the final of the European Cup Winners Cup in Rotterdam in 1991 and received his third another year later when United beat Nottingham Forest in the 1992 League Cup final.

Ince made his debut for the full England team in September of that year in a friendly match against Spain in Santander. England lost 1-0 but Ince proved a success. He was duly awarded his second cap a month later in a disappointing 1-1 draw with Norway in a qualifying match for the 1994 World Cup.

At the same time, Manchester United were competing in the inaugural Premiership season with Ince to the fore. Seeking a first League title for 26 years, United won it and Ince completed his domestic medal set just three years after joining the club. This success at club level was marred, however, by failure at international level, as Ince was dropped by manager Graham Taylor for two of five World Cup qualifiers, the second of which was a crucial 2-0 defeat in Norway which made England's hopes of reaching the finals slim.

However, Ince made history during England's summer tour of the USA when, in a match against the host nation, he became England's first black captain in the absence of David Platt and Tony Adams. Sadly England embarrassingly lost 2-0.

As the following domestic season got underway, Ince won his tenth England cap in a 3-0 win over Poland which kept alive their World Cup qualification hopes, though required a victory over Holland in Rotterdam a month later. In a controversial match, Holland beat England 2-0 and qualification hopes had gone. Ince scored twice - his first international goals - as the qualifying campaign ended with a 7-1 thumping of San Marino in Bologna but the margin of victory wasn't enough.

Manchester United continued to dominate the domestic game and Ince was the midfield general in the side which won the "double" of Premiership and FA Cup in 1994. A year later and Ince suffered more chants of JUDAS when he and Manchester United went to West Ham on the last day of the season, needing a win to reclaim their Premiership crown. Sadly for them, they could only draw the game and Blackburn Rovers took the title. It went from bad to worse as Ince featured then in the United team which also lost the FA Cup final to Everton.

During the same season, Manchester United's temperamental French striker Eric Cantona received a prison sentence (later commuted to a community service order on appeal) after he attacked a Crystal Palace supporter who had chanted abuse at him after he had been sent off for a foul. Ince was also deemed to have got involved in the aftermath and was charged with common assault. He was acquitted after a trial.

Ince's abilities as a player were, at this stage, at their peak - however, Ferguson sold him in the summer of 1995 to Internazionale for eight million pounds. Stories had emerged that Ince had been insisting he was called the "Guv'nor" (sic) by the other players (Ince later said it was a phase which went over the top) and, after selling him, Ferguson went on to label Ince as a "big-time Charlie". Ince left United after playing 278 games for them, scoring 28 goals.

For all his PR problems of the time, Ince was still a regular choice for England squads, though he played few games for new coach Terry Venables in the long sequence of friendly and mini-tournament matches which were necessary as England were hosting the next major tournament (the 1996 European Championships) and therefore didn't have a qualifying campaign. With Ince now playing in Italy, it meant that Venables was unable to watch him play very often, though by everyone's admission Ince's two-year spell in Serie A, unlike many British footballers who had gone there, was a big success.

When Euro 96 got underway, Ince was in the England team as the midfield ballwinner and got the label of "Gazza's minder" whose job was to create room for Paul Gascoigne to exploit with his natural ball skills. Though the first group game ended in a disappointing 1-1 draw at Wembley against Switzerland, England went on to defeat the old enemy Scotland 2-0 and then put on a display regarded as "total football" against (ironically) Holland, the team whose performances at the 1974 World Cup had first prompted the phrase's coining. Ince was fouled for a penalty which gave England the lead and helped them towards a 4-1 win; he also picked up a yellow card which rendered him unavailable for the quarter final against Spain, which England won on penalties.

Venables put Ince back in the side for the semi-final against Germany, though he was asked to play at right back to cover for the suspended Gary Neville. Ince and England played superbly but could only manage a 1-1 draw and England lost the penalty shoot out. Ince received criticism for not taking a penalty (the crucial missed kick from Gareth Southgate was England's sixth) and for spending the whole shoot out sitting down in the centre circle with his back to goal.

Another new England coach came on the scene in Glenn Hoddle and Ince kept his place for the next six internationals, which included five crucial qualifiers for the 1998 World Cup in France. England won four of them but lost 1-0 at home to Italy. During the first of these qualifiers against Moldova in Chisinau, a famous photograph of Ince was taken as he tried to climb a wall at the stadium, only for Gascoigne to pull his tracksuit trousers down, revealing Ince's bare buttocks in front of an army of cameras.

Ince won his 30th England cap in May 1997 as England beat Poland 3-0 in Katowice to leave them with an opportunity to get through to the World Cup provided they could beat Moldova at Wembley and then not lose to Italy in Rome. Moldova were duly dispatched 4-0 and Ince, in an incident reminiscent of Terry Butcher against Sweden seven years earlier, started the Italy match with a white England shirt and ended it with a red one after his own blood soaked the shirt following a deep cut to his head. The game ended goalless and England had qualified.

By now, Ince was back in England to play his club football, having left Internazionale so that his son Thomas, who was almost five years of age, could attend an English school. He joined Liverpool for more than four million pounds - a move which surprised many because of the long history of rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool, and few players had ever plied their trade with both clubs during their careers.

Ince won no honours in his first season with Liverpool as his new club were in the midst of a largely unsuccessful period where they were cast as 'nearly men' and rather derogatorily, 'Spice Boys' - term coined to describe the likes of team mates of Ince's like Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler and Jamie Redknapp as underacheiving playboys in the game. Unlike those players, Ince kept his England place for the World Cup, winning his 40th cap in the opening group game against Tunisia in Marseille. England got through the group but succumbed in the second round to Argentina, again after a penalty shoot out. This time Ince did take a penalty but saw it saved.

Ince's second season with Liverpool was again trophyless but he achieved a personal high point when he scored a late equaliser against Manchester United at Anfield and celebrated with some ferocity in front of the Kop. In the summer of 1999, however, Liverpool coach Gerard Houllier told Ince he was surplus to requirements and Ince joined Middlesbrough for one million pounds. Now nearly 32, Ince's career was clearly winding down, though he stayed in the England team (now run by Kevin Keegan) and helped them qualify for the 2000 European Championships in Holland and Belgium and was named in the squad for the finals.

In a friendly against Malta prior to the finals, Ince came on as a substitute and won his 50th cap. He duly played in all three of England's group games of the tournament - winning a penalty against Romania in the last game - but England lost two of three matches and were eliminated. Ince immediately retired from the England scene after 53 caps, with just those two goals against San Marino on his scoring records.

Ince concentrated on club football thereafter, playing three seasons with Middlesbrough before he was given a free transfer in 2002. He joined Wolverhampton Wanderers and duly played outside the top flight of English football (not counting his Italian sojourn) for the first time since his one brief appearance there for West Ham in 1989, prior to his move to Manchester United. That said, Ince was in the Wolves team which instantly won promotion to the Premiership in his first season there, though in 2004 they were relegated straight back again.

Expected to retire in 2005, Ince played out the season but the arrival as manager midway through the campaign of his former England coach Hoddle prompted a change of heart. In June 2005 he signed a new one year contract with Wolves and will continue to play for the club until at least 2006, by which time he will be approaching 39 years of age.

In the BBC's 2003 vote for the 100 Great Black Britons Ince finished in 95th place.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Paul Ince