Birthdate: 9 May 1968
Birthplace: Wandsworth, England
Other clubs: Millwall (1983-86), Tottenham Hotspur (1986-88), Millwall (2 / 1988-89), Southampton (1989-92), Tottenham Hotspur (2 / 1992-93), Queens Park Rangers (loan 1998), West Ham United (1998-2000), Crystal Palace (2000-01), Swindon Town (2001-03)
Bought from: Tottenham Hotspur, (2)
Signed for LFC: £2.5m, 22.07.1993
International debut: 16.11.1994 vs. Nigeria
International caps: 1/0
Liverpool debut: 14.08.1993
Last appearance: 21.10.1997
Debut goal: 22.08.1993
Last goal: 16.11.1996
Contract expiry: 30.07.1998
Win ratio: 50.66% W:77 D:39 L:36
Honours: League Cup 1995
Total games/goals opposite LFC: 11 / 1
LFC league games/goals: 115 / 11
Total LFC games/goals: 152 / 12
Player profile"Razor" Ruddock’s career before he was transferred to Liverpool was very colorful. He grew up at Millwall where George Graham changed him from a left-winger to a centre-half. Tottenham purchased Ruddock when he was 17 with Terry Venables replacing David Pleat after his first year at the club. Ruddock made his senior debut against Liverpool at White Hart Lane on 28 November 1987. Disaster struck when Gary Gillespie broke his leg with Ruddock out of action for a couple of months. He hardly got a look in after that and returned to Millwall in the summer of 1988 after only eleven appearances for Spurs. Ruddock stayed only eight months at Millwall before moving to fellow first division Southampton. Razor's career finally took off in earnest at the Dell and he remained there for four successful years. Ruddock and Venables were finally reunited at Spurs in 1992. Twelve months later there were a number of clubs interested as Ruddock revealed to LFChistory.net. He was on holiday in Spain when his old mate at Southampton and then reserve coach at Liverpool, Sammy Lee, phoned him up. "When I came home I had Souness and Liverpool waiting, Glenn Hoddle at Chelsea, Brian Clough at Forest, Kevin Keegan, Newcastle, Walter Smith, Rangers and Kenny Dalglish, Blackburn. I met Kenny on Monday. Tuesday was Liverpool and I was going to Newcastle on Wednesday. When I met Souness at Liverpool, I thought: 'This is it.' When I grew up Liverpool were a great team. The old Kop was still there. Nothing is better than this. When I used to run out at Anfield with 25,000 scousers singing. Going to the ground you could hear the Kop already in there singing. That's the thing I remember most and take away from football."
Controversy as ever followed Ruddock around. After only making two appearances for Liverpool he featured in Ronnie Whelan's testimonial against Newcastle. When only two minutes had passed of the match, Peter Beardsley fractured his cheekbone in three places after a clash with Razor who later scored the only goal of the game. Beardsley said that Ruddock had acted deliberately to prove he was a hard man to the Liverpool fans. Ruddock said in his autobiography that "If anything the slight rearrangement of his face did Pete a favour..." Liverpool won four out of their opening five games in the 1993/94 season with Mark Wright and Ruddock at the heart of their defence but then lost three in a row and it was downhill from then on. Ruddock's most memorable moment in a Liverpool shirt came at the start of 1994 when he almost knocked himself out equalizing in dramatic fashion against Manchester United completing Liverpool’s fightback from 3-0 down to 3-3. A humiliating FA Cup exit at the hands of first division Bristol City at Anfield was one defeat too many for the club's hierarchy. Souness, who had been in charge at Liverpool for two full seasons, was sacked only six months after Ruddock's arrival.
In Roy Evans’ first full season in charge, 1994/95, Phil Babb and John Scales arrived from Coventry and Wimbledon respectively within 48 hours of each other. Evans played three at the back: Ruddock, Scales and Babb and claimed "it's been beneficial for Razor to be guarded by these two guys." How did Razor like the 5-3-2 formation? "I liked playing with Mark Wright and then Nicol. He never seemed to have a bad game," he told LFChistory.net. "Scales and Babbsy... I didn't know what they were gonna' do. Half the time Babb didn't know what he was doing anyway." Ruddock was a success acting as a sweeper, lacking the necessary speed to cope in front of them. After featuring in 52 games in 1994/95 Ruddock struggled with injuries in the following season but as the campaign drew to a close with the FA Cup final on the horizon he completed three games in a row and fully expected to be in the starting line-up facing Manchester United at Wembley. Ruddock had only won the League Cup in his time at Liverpool and felt he would curtail the talents of Eric Cantona. He suffered the biggest disappointment of his career as Evans revealed at training that he was dropping him in favour of Scales. "I might be a big bloke and have the reputation of being a hard man but I cried like a baby when he dropped that bombshell," Ruddock confessed. "Roy admitted after that he made a mistake. At that time I was getting the better of Cantona and he wasn't playing too well against us. It was my birthday as well. What a birthday present!" Ruddock courted controversy again in a reserve game in October 1996 when he broke the ankle of Manchester United's Andy Cole. The United hitman claimed the tackle had been made to hurt him. Ruddock was typically nonchalant and replied: "I can only assume it was the way he fell."
The opposition loved to hate this colossus. Ruddock was a tough character who could hit some fantastic passes up field and was great in the air. However, lack of discipline and lack of fitness made life more difficult for him at Liverpool where competition for places was fierce. The 1996/97 season was the most successful one in Ruddock's time at Liverpool as the club finally made a decent title challenge but he was no longer first choice. Ruddock reported for pre-season training having shed a stone but injured his knee only 23 minutes into the 1997/98 campaign. On his return two months later he conceded an own goal against Everton and his terrible display in a 3-0 defeat in Strasbourg was his final performance for the club. Gérard Houllier arrived at the club in July 1998 to become joint-manager by Evans' side. When Houllier introduced himself to the players Ruddock wasn't impressed. "Houllier came into the dressing room and he went to Fowler, 'Ahh, Robbie Fowler,' went to David James: 'hello, David,' he comes to me and said: 'I'm sorry, what is your name?' I said, 'Have you been in a coma for 15 years?' Everyone laughed. He didn't get my sense of humour. I think it was about a week later I was gone." Harry Redknapp signed Ruddock for the Hammers and after two seasons at West Ham in the Premier League he moved down a division to Crystal Palace owned by the controversial Simon Jordan. Ruddock had a fall-out with Jordan and joined forces with his former Liverpool boss, Roy Evans, at Swindon Town in August 2001. Evans was boss and Ruddock player-coach, signing a three-year deal. Seventeen months later the money and promises ran out. Ruddock's football career was over.
Appearances per season
A more detailed look at the player's appearances
|6||West Ham United|
|1||Paris St Germain|
Goals per season
A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring
|50||10.09.1994||West Ham United||Anfield||League|
|150||15.10.1997||WBA||The Hawthorns||League Cup|
|1||19||22.08.1993||Swindon Town||County Ground||League|
Neil Ruddock on wearing jodhpurs but no undies, every hole being a goal and Stan Collymore's angel fetish.More
Neil Ruddock described himself as a "Hell Razor" but it is difficult to comprehend now how he got that reputation as today he is a very much grounded and a quiet person who... that couldn't be further from the truth actually... More
Match report from British Soccer Week on Tottenham - Liverpool on 31.10.1992.More
Match report from 04.01.1994 on Liverpool - Manchester United from British Soccer Week.More
Duel between Peter Beardsley and Neil Ruddock ended in Beardsley fracturing his cheekbone in three places in Ronnie Whelan's testimonial. From "British Soccer Week 19.08.1993. More
Match report from British Soccer Week on 14.08.1993. More
Neil Ruddock had difficulty in staying away from trouble at Liverpool.More
Andy Cole has slammed Liverpool's Neil Ruddock for the tackle that cracked both his legs and put him out of football for at least three months.More
"When Evans lost it, and he had Ronnie Moran behind him, he was fierce. He’s like Harry Redknapp. Harry comes across as a very nice man on the TV, but in the dressing room you don’t cross Harry."
Neil Ruddock on Evans
"I think I got a bad reputation at Southampton. I got sent off a couple of times for stupid things, a rush of blood and you get a bad name and for the rest of your career you are trying to get rid of it. I want to win. I can be over-enthusiastic sometimes."
Neil Ruddock on his hard man image
"I carried on like a teenager. I was a bloody fool. Put any red-blooded, heterosexual male in a room filled with scantily dressed women, fill the bloke with booze, tell the women you're a footballer earning £10,000 a week - it's a recipe for disaster. The problem was the other Spice Boys were all single and I was married with a family. So I had more to lose. I was a horny footballer - like a kid in a sweet factory when I was out clubbing with the lads.
At 18, I was driven. But by my late 20s, I was overweight, drank and partied too much. I betrayed my wife and let my family down. I should have had the discipline to resist temptations."
Neil Razor Ruddock in the Mirror 2004
"Stan only seemed to turn it on when he felt like it, and he didn't exactly endear himself to his team-mates when he was quoted in a magazine article as saying that he was disappointed with the service he was getting, and that, when he joined Liverpool, he expected to be surrounded by better players. He turned on the other players in the team when he should have been looking at himself. When the lads read what he'd said the attitude of virtually everyone in the squad was 'fuck you Stan'.
Stan didn't make any attempt to get on with the lads and, although I used to sit next to him on the coach and try and make conversation with him, I could never claim to know him. Nobody did. He'd turn up for training, do his work, get changed and go home. Not exactly conducive to good team spirit, so I think most of the lads were relieved when he was finally flogged off to Aston Villa."
If you'd been at school, he would have been the boy who ate worms.
Neil Ruddock on Collymore
People in the south don’t understand how big the Liverpool-Manchester rivalry is. Eric used to wear his collar up; it was a friend of mine, a Scouse, who said ‘Why don’t you go and turn his collar down, see how he reacts?’ I thought it was a good idea, so when we played I turned it down once and he grinned at me. Then I turned it down a second time and he smiled, I turned it down a third and he lashed out and just missed me, turned it down a fourth time and he chased me and kicked me right up the backside. He couldn’t see the funny side of it, but after the game he came into the bar, tapped me on the shoulder, gave me a pint of lager and gave me a wink. That’s the side of Eric people really didn’t see.
Neil Ruddock tried to strike up a friendship with Eric Cantona in the clash vs United on 1st of October 1995
When we trained on Friday afternoon, on my birthday, I was running past Roy at one point and he said to me: ‘I don’t know how to tell you this, but..’ and that was it, I was out of the final. What a birthday present that was. I was so upset I told him to fuck off and stormed off. I was in tears and I just couldn’t believe I was being denied the chance to fulfil another childhood dream. I had never felt so gutted or let down. I might be a big bloke and have the reputation of being a hard man, but I cried like a baby when he dropped that bombshell. From that day on I lost a little respect for him and I’m sure the way I reacted caused him to lose a little respect for me too. But that’s the way I am. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I tell people exactly the way it is. From then on my Liverpool career went even further downhill because the following season, I had problems to contend with off the field as well as on. I almost wrecked everything I’d worked for in crazy six month spell during which I made Gazza look like a saint.
Ruddock on his FA cup final heartache delivered by Roy Evans
We were in high spirits after victory and enjoying a celebration drink on the plane home when Steve Harkness thought it would be a good idea to relieve himself in Robbie’s shoes as our young striker slept amidst the mayhem. When Robbie woke up, by which time I was fast asleep, he put his feet back in his shoes and quickly realised what had happened. Understandably, he wasn’t too pleased and when he demanded to know who’d done it, the lads pointed to me. As a result, he went into my bag and pulled out my new pair of £300 Gucci boots and proceeded to cut them up, thinking he’d got his revenge on the dirty culprit who’d pissed in his shoes. Bad move. When I woke up as we came in to the land, the lads were still in hysterics and it didn’t take a genius to work out why. It wasn’t until we were going through the airport I confronted Robbie, told him that I’d had nothing to do with the original stunt and demanded that he bought me new pair of boots to replace the ones he’d ruined. There was a big argument, a bit of pushing and shoving and having had enough of his bravado; I decided to teach him a lesson by punching him on the nose. Some of the other lads stepped in and although it was all over in a flash, the reporters who’d travelled with us were on the case and the story made the papers the next day. We’ve been the best of mates ever since.
Razor on when he and Fowler battled it out at the airport
I was meant to be working my way back to fitness on a running machine in the gym, but when the physio disappeared I went off for a cuppa and a bacon butty. Five minutes before he returned I went back, started jogging again and threw water over myself to look like I was sweating. The physio came back, pointed to me and said to the young guys in the room: ‘That’s a proper professional’.
Ruddock ever the professional at Liverpool!