Former footballer

Former footballer

Born: April 5, 1960; Died: January 10, 2014

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IAN Redford, a former Rangers player who has died aged 53, had a life repeatedly blighted by ill-luck and tragedy on the one hand, and great sporting acclaim and success on the other.

The Perth-born son of a blacksmith who turned to farming, he was diagnosed as being profoundly deaf in his right ear while at primary school. His brother Douglas died from childhood leukaemia, a loss which blighted his parents' relationship.

However, growing up near Errol, Redford could escape his travails on the football field, where his goal-scoring exploits with youth team Errol Rovers saw him called-up by Dundee as a 16-year-old.

He was considered one of the most talented youngsters to come through the Dens Park youth system and was soon established in the first team as a striker, where his four-goal haul against St Mirren in 1978 saw him being hailed as "the next Alan Gilzean".

This proved not to be the case, as he dropped back into midfield and, in 1980, the 19-year-old was transferred to Rangers for a then Scottish record fee of £210,000. In hindsight perhaps, the wrong move, to the wrong club, at the wrong time.

Rangers were struggling, falling behind not only Old Firm rivals Celtic but also the New Firm of Alex Ferguson's Aberdeen and Jim McLean's Dundee United. He still won trophies at Ibrox. There was the Scottish Cup win in 1980-81, during which his penalty, which would have won the final, was saved by United keeper Hamish McAlpine, although Rangers won the replay.

He had his revenge in the League Cup final the following season when he demonstrated his goal-scoring ability with a memorable match-winning chip over McAlpine. He also won another League Cup winner's medal in 1984-85.

In all, Redford played 250 games for Rangers, but he was unable to convert his six Scotland Under-21 caps into a single full cap, a rare "failure" by a Scots-born Rangers regular, although, in fairness, Scotland was particularly well-endowed with international-class midfielders at that time.

In 1985 he moved to Dundee United. He was one of the stars of the Arabs' great run to the Uefa Cup final in 1987, with an outstanding display in the legendary win over Barcelona in the Camp Nou and the winning goal against Borussia Munchengladbach in the semi-final. Sadly, United lost to IFK Gothenburg in the final.

Redford went south to Ipswich Town the following season before returning to Scotland to run down his career with St Johnstone, the team he supported as a Perth High School pupil, Brechin City, where he was player-manager, and a last playing hurrah and a third League Cup-winner's medal with Raith Rovers, in their shock defeat of Celtic in 1994-95.

He retired at the end of that season after more than 500 senior games with seven senior clubs. By this time he was also experiencing loss of hearing is his left ear. In retirement he toyed with professional golf and worked as a player's agent before settling down to organise fishing and shooting holidays in Scotland. The manner in which he hid his hearing difficulties during his playing career was laudable; few outwith his family circle were aware of how severe his handicap was and he admitted he missed a lot of dressing-room banter, and the odd warning shout of "Man on" during games.

Redford settled in Ayrshire and, just weeks before his death published his autobiography Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head to good reviews, more-so since he had self-penned it without the aid of a ghost writer and in which he finally chronicled the demons with which he had battled throughout his life.

Then came the tragic news on Friday of his body being found in woodland near Irvine. Redford is survived by his wife Janine, two sons and a daughter.