This story about the late footballer and gay icon came to my attention recently.
Justin Fashanu’s life is a pretty sad story. The article above makes uncomfortable reading.
He and brother John were brought up in a Barnardo’s home I understand and it’s interesting to see the way their respective lives developed in different ways considering their challenging start in life.
I recall when Brian Clough splashed out £1m on Justin to buy him from Norwich City for Nottingham Forest. His reputation had largely been established by one long-distance wonder goal and whilst many big clubs were in for him Clough and Taylor performed a typical ‘smash and grab’ raid for the big striker.
Things didn’t work out at all for Fashanu at The City Ground. His performances were mediocre at best and not punctuated by regular goal scoring. Whatever Fashanu was up to in his private life, and he was said to be visiting a gay club or two around Nottingham, he merely succeeded in antagonising Clough, not least by his lacklustre performances on the pitch. Finally one morning Clough banished Fashanu from the Forest training ground. My understanding is that Fashanu refused to leave and at this point Clough called the police to intervene and escort the player away.
Shortly afterwards neighbouring Notts County signed Fashanu for a cut-price £100,000. His displays for Notts were marked by the same ineffectiveness as displayed on the other side of the Trent however. His time at Forest and Notts signalled his long descent into mediocrity, a career that never really started. I often wonder how his life and career would have shaped up if that one wonder goal had slipped the wrong side of the post. A sliding doors moment.