Doug Ellis, the former Aston Villa chairman, who died overnight aged 94, had a fearsome reputation.
But if Paul Gascoigne’s brilliant story about than man dubbed ‘Deadly Doug’ is anything to go by, he was also a generous soul who knew how to enjoy himself.
Ellis was given his nickname after overseeing the departures of 13 managers during his two spells at Villa Park – between 1968 and 1975 then 1982 and 2006.
Gazza’s surprise encounter with the multi-millionaire came on a day off from England duties at the Italia ’90 World Cup.
The Tottenham legend, now 51, told the tale in the 2011 book, Glorious: My World, Football and Me.
It involves David Platt, a yacht, Gary Lineker and his then-wife, lots of champagne, lots of food, a near death experience and renegade violinist Nigel Kennedy.
What more could you ask for?
Here’s the story in full…
"On one of our days off we went down to the beach to sunbathe. David Platt had joined the squad – more of that later – and ever since we arrived hadn’t stopped going on about Doug Eliis, the Aston Villa owner and Platty’s boss.
"It was all, ‘Doug Ellis has the best yacht. Doug Ellis is going to do this. Doug Ellis is going to do that. Doug Ellis had installed the best pitch. Doug Ellis has flown to the moon.’
"By lunchtime we’d had a few drinks, although we shouldn’t have, and I decided it was time to take the p***.
"There was a big-ass yacht anchored about three hundred yards off the beach and when I saw it I shouted, ‘Ooh look, Dougie and his boat.’
"I started to swim out to it and a few of the lads followed, mainly because I said they would probably have loads of drink on board.
"As we got nearer I was calling out, ‘Oh Dougie. Oh Dougie. Where are you? Just then a bloke peered over the side. ‘Hello Paul.’ F*** me, it was Doug Ellis.
"About eight of us clambered on board, including Gary Lineker’s missus. We must have got through about thirty bottles of champagne and all of his food.
"It was brilliant. At one point I leapt on Mrs Lineker for a laugh and we both tumbled over the side and into the ocean. Fortunately she saw the funny side, but I’m not sure Gary did.
"By the time we had to leave I was smashed. We were swimming back and I was about a hundred yards from shore when I began to get tired. I decided the best thing to do was take a deep breath, dive to the seabed, give myself a moment to relax, then push up and swim back as fast as I could."Yeah I know, not the smartest decision I’ve made, butI was p****d.
"As I was coming back up I must have got turned around because after resurfacing and swimming hard I looked up expecting to see the shore but discovered I was heading in the wrong direction.
"I was beginning to struggle and I panicked a bit. It was quite frightening. I started to wave my hands in the air and luckily enough a little dinghy with an outboard motor turned up.
"It was Gary Lineker and another bloke. ‘Get in you daft b*****d,’ he said.
"When I looked up it was Nigel Kennedy, the violinist. ‘Give us a tune then, Nige,’ I said. ‘Handel’s Water Music?’ he laughed. I didn’t have a clue what he was on about."
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