Once the shock factor was about his private life, now manager of League 2 side Aldershot, Dean Holdsworth is plotting a Cup surprise over wounded tigers Manchester United.
As a member of Wimbledon’s infamous Crazy Gang, the criteria demanded that any newbie was slightly unhinged. Clothes were cut up or set ablaze, players were encouraged to run around in training yelling ‘power!’ and practise matches were concluded with ‘Harry-ball’ (after manager Dave ‘Harry’ Bassett); a game inspired by rugby which once left a player with two broken ribs. Outside of work, Dean Holdsworth fulfilled the craziness in his personal life.
He will be presently preparing his Aldershot Town side for the club’s most glamorous fixture in their history when they entertain Manchester United on Tuesday evening. And when he shakes the hand of Sir Alex Ferguson, whose side he failed to score against on seven occasions, it will be the mellowed, stats-obsessed football manager rather than the Primark tabloid fodder of the 90s. Many remain aghast that Holdsworth has made the transition into a football manager, especially since his past is liable to set a dangerous precedent for his players.
A smouldering pin-up during his pomp, he made 208 appearances for the Dons while scoring 76 goals in the process during five years at Selhurst Park before an enjoyable six-year spell at Bolton Wanderers where the tutelage of Sam Allardyce intensified his desire to stay within the game when his 22-year playing career eventually ended.
But Holdsworth is tainted by a couple of unsavoury incidents which reaped such publicity that he was his own worst enemy at times during the late 90s.
His first brush with notoriety came courtesy of his affair with the then-17-year-old glamour model Linsey Dawn McKenzie in 1996. Every footballer's wife's nightmare, McKenzie boasted a 36GG chest that beguiled Holdsworth with some daring dogging on the bonnet of the striker's £83,000 BMW as the pair pre-dated ITVs 2002 trash-o-drama. McKenzie was already flashing her assets on Page 3 as she made the intrepid steps to augment her profile, so had no qualms in informing the People that the romance didn’t last because Holdsworth was married. 'I was gutted,' she said. 'He was fit, good-looking and wore stylish designer clothes.'
McKenzie boasted a 36GG chest that beguiled Holdsworth with some daring dogging on the bonnet of the striker's £83,000 BMW.
Holdsworth's wife Samantha forgave him 'for the sake of the kids', yet three years later was the victim of domestic violence when her husband twice punched her on the lip after she had seen him dancing with another woman at a charity gala. She required a local anaesthetic and stitches, and Holdsworth was ordered to serve 18 months probation, aided by the prosecution withdrawing a charge of grievous bodily harm owed to his wife punching him twice initially.
Now literally bruised and his profile damaged, Holdsworth played out the remaining years of his career in unspectacular surroundings, even plying his trade for Wimbledon’s rebranded outfit MK Dons for a season before touring the non-league clubs. Shamelessly desperate to remain in the public eye, he appeared in reality television series Deadline – where he was sacked by Janet Street-Porter, before participating in the second series of Sky One’s reality TV series Cirque De Celebrité.
Following Mark Bright’s footsteps and rubbing shoulders with Ruby Wax and Jenni Falconer was no acceptable substitute for the day-to-day drug of the training ground however, and he has impressively worked his way up the league ladder via promotion to the Conference National with Newport County before he upped sticks for League 2 Aldershot in January.
Remarried and revitalised, he has grown up to such a nonconforming degree that he is the founder of the Non League Footballers Association and a former chairman of the PFA. The craziness has abated. But then, there's always tonight...
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