Ronnie Wallwork won the Premier League at the age of 23 and was a great hope at Old Trafford, but he lost everything behind bars in prison.
In 1997, Wallwork was one of the most promising young talents of English football. The midfield in 1977 was the follow-up to the Manchester United training facility, which produced the famous “92 generation”.
Nearly two decades later, while many of his peers have achieved success in the Premier League, Wallwork has buried his career with thugs.
Premier League champion
Born in Manchester, Wallwork grew up with a love of Manchester United and quickly revealed his football talent. At the age of 15, he joined the MU youth team and signed a professional contract just 2 years later.
After helping MU win the FA Cup for young teams, Wallwork along with Michael Owen, Jamie Carragher or Matthew Upson attended the U20 World Cup in Malaysia. In 1996, Wallwork received the title of the best young player in England.
At the age of 19, Wallwork had his first team debut. In the period 1997-2001, he played more games for the “Red Devils”. In the 2000/01 season, this defensive midfielder played enough matches for MU to be awarded the Premier League championship medal.
Wallwork played 16 matches for MU that season, helping the “Red Devils” away from Arsenal in the championship race. The progress on the pitch and the roots of Manchester made Wallwork expected to become a new symbol at Old Trafford.
It was Sir Alex Ferguson who publicly defended this player after the serious scandals of that time. Coach MU regarded him as the jewel of the red half of Manchester.
It all started in August 1999, while playing in Belgium on loan from MU, Wallwork got into a scandal that threatened the referee.
After Antwerp’s team lost to La Louviere and lost the promotion ticket, Wallwork and Danny Higginbotham (another MU player) chased referee Amand Ancion in the tunnel and threatened to kill him.
Belgian media reported that Wallwork and Higginbotham even grabbed and slapped the referee Ancion. “This is an unprecedented scandal and no one can defend the two MU stars,” said Paul Bistiaux, an Antwerp official.
The Belgian Football Association initially issued a lifetime ban on Wallwork and a one-year ban on Higginbotham. A Belgian court later reduced its ban on Wallwork to 3 years.
However, thanks to Ferguson’s advocacy and appeal, both players continued to play in England. The Scottish tactician even flew to Belgium to protect the two students.
Ferguson probably didn’t expect that it was just the beginning of Wallwork’s notorious career. Not only threatened to kill the referee, the defensive midfielder also interacted with many rogue parts of society, and this has brought consequences for him later.