The home sick boy who turned into the hard man of football.

THE soiled linen of Danielle and Graeme Souness's stormy marriage has

been well and truly washed and hung out on banner headlines these past

days with little dignity left on either side. You wonder if people ever

stop to consider the children.

On the matrimonial level, psychiatrists have their own standard

judgment of what happens. Even when contemplating marriage, they will

tell you, men have an inborn resistance to women, a personal animosity

at an unconscious level, which they generally manage to shed before

proceeding to the much likelier success of the second-time-round.

More interesting than the Souness marriage, however, the man himself

becomes the fascinating study of the working-class Scottish lad, brought

up in an Edinburgh prefab, blessed with an exquisite footballing talent,

who comes face to face with high success -- then seems to blow it.

Many in Scotland are still working out why in 1991, at the point of

triumph with a vista of much more to come, Graeme Souness suddenly

walked away from his friend David Murray, chairman of Rangers, and all

they were building together in the quest for European success.

One moment he was declaring he would not contemplate leaving his

manager's job at Ibrox for the Liverpool vacancy created by the

departure of his friend, Kenny Dalglish; but soon he was off to that

same job.

Was he lured back to the scene of his greatest playing triumphs by a

secret desire to win the European Cup again, this time as manager?

Was it a furious reaction to the punishment meted out by the ruling

body of Scottish football, with which he was constantly at loggerheads?

Or a gesture to the Scottish press, which criticised him at its peril

but let him away too often with the sycophantic soft-pedal?

A persecution complex? An itchy finger on the button of self-destruct?

The puzzle may never be solved.

What we do know is that the seeds of conflict were with him from early


Brought up in the Saughton Mains district of Edinburgh, he went to the

same school as the great Dave Mackay, the Spurs and Scotland star who

spotted him. He followed Mackay's golden route to White Hart Lane.

But he walked out with mutterings of homesickness.

Then came a second chance, this time at Middlesbrough, where there

were rows and he was asked to leave.

Thus came the greatest playing opportunity of all, the offer to join

high-flying Liverpool, the greatest team in England. And there he

emerged as the natural successor to the Jim Baxters and Paddy Crerands.

Enter Danielle, daughter of a Merseyside multi-millionaire

businessman, Austin Wilson, who had retired to Majorca and settled on

her a trust of #750,000.

Souness was soon on his way to Italy, orchestrating a Sampdoria team

owned by a man called Mantovani.

Meanwhile, back in Scotland, the Rangers' domination, which had long

been suffering from the power of Jock Stein's Celtic and the

impertinence of Alex Ferguson's Aberdeen, needed restoring.

At 33, Graeme Souness was dramatically produced as the player-manager

of a club still owned by the John Lawrence family.

But in his very first match, back on the home territory of Easter

Road, Edinburgh, he was ordered off for an incident which sparked off

rammy. Souness confessed he looked up at the grandstand, spotted his

father and felt ashamed. Rangers were fined #5000 and he was banned for

three games.

However, the new man did go on to claim the premier division

championship, Rangers' first for nine years.

At the start of his second season he was ordered off again, against

Celtic at Parkhead, charged with verbally abusing referee David Syme,

who later described him as ''the most arrogant, spoiled man I have ever

come across in football''. Syme added: ''As a player, he was one of the

dirtiest tacklers I have ever seen.''

All this of a man who was also one of the silkiest performers to pull

on a Scottish jersey.

By November 1988 there were sensational happenings of a better tone at

Ibrox. Wealthy industrialist David Murray, a friend of Souness, bought

over Rangers at the unthinkable bargain price of #6m, giving the manager

the chance to take a 10% stake.

Shrewdly, Murray was giving him good reason to stay around. The

Souness family set up home, luxuriously, in Edinburgh but were soon

hitting the headlines with the announcement that the marriage was on the

rocks. Danielle had gone back to Majorca with the children.

Through continuing conflict with the SFA, he changed the Rangers'

habit of a century by signing the most controversial of Roman Catholics,

Maurice Johnston, who had nearly gone to Celtic. That inevitably brought

flak from some Ibrox supporters but applause from the rest of Scotland.

Fined #5000 for breaching a touchline ban, Souness told an

interviewer: ''There's a lot I don't like about myself but there are

some things which are just you and can't be changed, no matter how you


There were things which other people didn't like either. The Herald's

James Traynor turned up at a Souness press conference to be told that

his recent critical article was an unmentionable substance and that he

was just jealous that Rangers players earned ten times what he earned.

Traynor was dismissed as ''a little socialist'' and banned, just as had

happened to the Express man and Scottish Television.

Were the pressures too much? Whatever the cause, he wasn't learning,

plunging into further trouble with the SFA for saying there were too

many hammer-throwers in Scottish football.

But he was not alone in feeling pressure. Kenny Dalglish was quitting

Liverpool and rumour was rife that Souness would replace him. There were

denials and vows of loyalty to Rangers. But off he went.

David Murray told him quietly he was making the biggest mistake of his

life. The 10% share of Rangers was now worth #1m. And from the court

case just finished, he appears to have indicated that his fortune has

now risen to #8m. Not bad for a wee lad from Saughton Mains.

But the pressures were building. After less than a year at Liverpool

he felt unwell and the diagnosis was shattering: an immediate heart

by-pass -- or you will die.

Was there no end to Souness's misfortunes? With the football club

heading for its worst season in 30 years, he found himself in trouble

with English referees -- and faced the grief that his loving father, who

had had the same heart operation as himself, had died of a heart attack.

Events overtook him and he finally quit the Liverpool job last

January. He now manages Galatasaray of Turkey.

More recently still came the libel suit against the People newspaper,

after Danielle's accusations brought the headlines of ''dirty rat''.

As a leading psychiatrist confirmed to me last night, there is a

psychological condition where people can go along quite smoothly in

their daily lives, being charming, pleasant and competent. Suddenly they

will do something which seems quite crazy. It is something which is easy

to condemn, if less easy to understand and grant sympathy.

Yet sympathy and understanding may well be what it needs -- except,

of course, when you collect #750,000.