The BBC has announced the surprise appointment of Stan Collymore as a guest pundit on Match of the Day 2 for next season.
@StanCollymore Welcome to the club.
The 6'3" ex-England striker was a mercurial but talented forward, a scorer of spectacular goals in the 1990s. He started his career at Crystal Palace, but rose to prominence at Forest, where he scored 41 league goals in two seasons.
That led to a big-money move to Liverpool, where flashes of brilliance - such as his two goals in the famous 4-3 win over Newcastle in 1996 - were tempered by inconsistency. He was sold on to Aston Villa, and his career tailed off from then.
Collymore's much publicised battles with depression led to spells out of the game, with the somewhat unreconstructed coaches of the time not helping his struggle with mental illness.
In addition, some of Collymore’s off-field conduct overshadowed a career which yielded three England caps, the most infamous incident being when he attacked then-girlfriend Ulrika Jonsson in a Paris bar.
After retiring as a player, Collymore reinvented himself as an outspoken, politically engaged football journalist, mostly working for TalkSport but also acting as a knowledgeable pundit for websites and TV stations, including Eurosport.
When he's not being paid to talk about football, he now spends a large chunk of his time broadcasting opinions to his 566k followers on Twitter and prompting debate – and often outrage.
Not hacked,no alcohol, wonderful night of football and opinions i stand by 100%. A wonderful rich life i have. You? — Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) May 25, 2014
Only on Monday, Collymore - in the midst of a diatribe against colonial European imperialism - caused a furore after describing the Falklands Islands as “a f***ing island with sheep”, a tweet which prompted a wide backlash.
— ITV News (@itvnews) May 27, 2014
He has previously used Twitter to campaign against prejudice, notably regarding the treatment of the mentally ill, and of course racism. He also regularly shows support for socialist causes, while criticising political parties such as UKIP and France's Front National.
The appointment of the controversial and outspoken Collymore is a stark departure from what has been decried as an "Old Boy's Club" on BBC football panels. Alan Hansen - who appeared less than interested by the modern game - has announced he will retire from MOTD duty, while fans often mock the vanilla opinions of Alan Shearer and others.
In truth, Collymore should provide a welcome addition to a Match of the Day format which has become increasingly tired.
Great reporting should stimulate debate and, with Collymore, that's guaranteed – even if the majority of the nation doesn't always agree.
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