Brilliant footballer, forthright man

Derek Dougan was a brilliant, outspoken footballer who never bowed down to the establishment.

Derek Dougan was a brilliant, outspoken footballer who never bowed down to the establishment.

A man of considerable charisma, presence and enthusiasm, he was born on January 20 1938. He died of a suspected heart attack on June 24, aged 69.

He moved from Lisburn Distillery to Portsmouth in 1959. His playing days were characterised by wanderlust: he submitted a transfer request on the eve of turning out for Blackburn Rovers in the 1960 FA Cup final. Rovers lost 3-0 to Wolves, his future employer.

He scored at a prolific rate in club football, moving on to Aston Villa, Peterborough United and Leicester City before signing for Wolves in March 1967. Dougan scored a hat-trick on his home debut against Hull City and a nine-goal burst helped to lift the venerable old club back into the First Division, now the Premiership.

He became a hero during his eight years at Molineux, scoring 123 goals in 323 games. With his theatrical presence, long, loping run and wild hair, he stopped his wandering once he settled in Wolverhampton, with Jutta Maria, his German wife, and sons Alexander and Nicholas.

Wolves returned to the upper echelons of the First Division and competed once more in Europe, reaching the Uefa Cup final in 1972, where they lost to Tottenham Hotspur, and won the 1974 League Cup final, beating Man-chester City at Wembley.

Dougan barely played in his final year at Molineux. He was given an emotional farewell at the age of 37 on the last day of the 1974-75 season. But fans had not heard the last of the Doog.

He seldom missed an opportunity in football's political arena, where his ideals were tempered by the Troubles and a rejection of the loyalist values he had been surrounded by as a teenager.

Dougan won 43 caps for Northern Ireland and captained the side for four years. But he believed passionately in an all-Ireland side and in 1973 met the Irish Football Association to propose this idea. He never played again for his country; something he always blamed on the stunned reaction of officials at that meeting.

Dougan became a pundit for ITV during the 1974 World Cup finals. He was also chairman of the players union, Professional Footballers' Association.

He returned to Wolves in 1982 to help the team when it was reportedly within 24 hours of going out of business. But his backers, the Bhatti brothers, proved to have little substance and in January 1985 he resigned. - The Times News Service