Andy Goram obituary

<span>Photograph: Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Getty Images

The goalkeeper Andy Goram, who has died aged 58 of cancer, played more than 40 times for Scotland between 1986 and 1998 and wore the No 1 shirt for Rangers through most of the 1990s, winning the Scottish Premier League with the club on five occasions. Unusually for a footballer of the modern era, he was also a first-class cricketer, appearing for Scotland in the early 90s.

Though short for a keeper, at 5ft 11in, Goram possessed all the attributes needed at the top level. A superb shot-stopper with fast reflexes, he had an excellent positional sense that allowed him to quickly close down shooting angles and a will to win that was a boon to all the sides he played for. Known at Rangers simply as “the Goalie” he was widely regarded not only as the best ever Rangers goalkeeper, but one of the greatest Scotland has known.

With Rangers he won three Scottish Cups and two Scottish League Cups in addition to his Scottish Premier League titles, during a period of dominance under Walter Smith as manager. During the 1992-93 season Goram was a huge factor in Rangers’ run of 44 games without defeat, taking them to the brink of a Champions League final and delivering the domestic treble. He played in all those matches, conceding only 30 goals, and during his eight-year spell at Ibrox kept 107 clean sheets in 258 games.

For Scotland he travelled to two World Cup finals and three European Championship finals, and would have gained more caps but for the presence of his great rival Jim Leighton, with whom he had a long tussle to become first-choice keeper.

With Goram’s great talent, however, came off-field activities that kept the tabloids busy with stories of his womanising, hard drinking and gambling. Smith had cause to administer discipline on a number of occasions, and with Scotland, too, Goram was no stranger to controversy, twice walking out on the team. Even after his playing days, when he served more quietly as a coach, stories about his private life would occasionally surface.

Although he was so much associated with Scotland, Goram was born and brought up in England – in Bury, Lancashire. His parents, Lew and May, were Scots who had moved south when Lew, a professional footballer, signed as a goalkeeper for Bury. While at Tottington high school, Andy signed on schoolboy forms for West Bromwich Albion before moving to Second Division Oldham Athletic, and making his debut in 1981. Four years later, thanks to his parentage, Scotland’s caretaker manager, Alex Ferguson, was able to give him his first international cap. He came on as a substitute against East Germany, and the Hampden crowd sang “You’re not English any more”. In 1986, he was taken to the World Cup finals in Mexico, although as third-choice keeper he saw no action.

In 1987 he was transferred to Hibernian, where his father had earlier played. An instant success there, he was selected by Scotland for the 1990 World Cup finals in Italy as second choice to Leighton. It was at Hibs that Goram received some leeway to play cricket. Having captained Lancashire schoolboys as a youngster and appeared in league cricket while at Oldham, he began playing for Scotland as a left-handed batsman and right-arm medium-pace bowler in the summers of 1989 and 1991, featuring in two first-class matches against Ireland, two NatWest Trophy matches against Yorkshire and Sussex, and in Glasgow against Australia – the last appearance in defiance of Hibs, who fined him on his return.

Andy Goram playing for Rangers in 1995.
Andy Goram playing for Rangers in 1995. Photograph: Allstar/Alamy

All cricket stopped in 1991, when he joined Rangers as one of Smith’s first transfer deals. Although he had a nervy start, he played in all 55 competitive matches during his first season as his side won the 1991-92 Scottish Premier League championship and the Scottish Cup. In the following 1992-93 season he was outstanding as Rangers narrowly missed out on reaching a Champions League final, conceding only seven goals in 10 unbeaten European matches and collecting a hat-trick of domestic medals as well as the Scottish Player of the Year award.

Despite his great value to the team, Goram’s lifestyle proved to be a headache for Smith, who had to deal with a stream of tabloid-highlighted incidents. After a knee problem kept Goram out for much of the 1993-94 season his relationship with Smith broke down temporarily, and he was put on the transfer list, only to be returned to the fold after showing renewed commitment. But there were other run-ins and fines, including in 1996 after he was banned for 18 months for drink driving.

The 1997-98 season was the first Goram had known without a trophy, and he left the club at the end of that campaign when a new manager, Dick Advocaat, rang the changes. His time representing Scotland also came to an end when he walked out on the squad three weeks before the 1998 World Cup finals in France, upset that Leighton had been given the No 1 spot ahead of him. Though he had won 43 caps since 1986, he had frequently missed out to Leighton in the big tournaments, although he did get the upper hand at the Euro 1992 and 1996 finals, in which he played in all three of Scotland’s matches in each tournament as they went out at the group stage on both occasions. He was picked for the 1992 finals despite having withdrawn from the squad before a qualifying match, saying that he was not “mentally attuned” enough to play.

After brief spells at Notts County and Sheffield United, Goram signed for Motherwell in 1999. He quit the club in 2000, after which Ferguson made a surprise move to secure him on loan at Manchester Untied as cover for Fabien Barthez during the 2000-01 season. He played twice at Old Trafford in the title run-in before moving to Coventry City and then back to Scotland with Queen of the South and Elgin City.

After retiring in 2004 he played league cricket in Scotland and became a goalkeeping coach for various clubs, including Motherwell, Clyde, Airdrieonians and Cambuslang Rangers. He also wrote a lively autobiography, The Goalie: My Story (2009).

Married and divorced three times – to Jacqui Taylor, Tracey Fitzpatrick and Miriam Wylie – he had two sons: Danny, from his first marriage; and Lewis, from his second.

• Andrew Lewis Goram, footballer, born 13 April 1964; died 2 July 2022