At her Majesty’s pleasure: Footballers in prison; Thomas, Storey, Higuita & Moreno

In a week which has seen ex-Manchester United footballer Ronnie Wallwork jailed for selling stolen car parts and former Premiership player and jailbird Lee Hughes arrested, we thought it’d be a good time to have a look half a dozen who’ve all been detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.

Frank McAvennie

The former West Ham and Celtic forward enjoyed scoring off the pitch as much as he did on it, spending much of the 80s splashed all over the tabloids as they lapped up his champagne and shagging lifestyle.Frankie Mac found himself back in those same tabloids in the 90s. Though this time it was after being stopped by UK Customs for trying to drive to Holland with £200,000 in cash in the boot. Strangely the Magistrates Court chose not to believe Frank’s story that he was off to by a boat to salvage gold from a sunken treasure ship, and satisfied themselves that he was actually off to finance a drug deal.

Mickey Thomas

Welsh wing wizard Mickey Thomas dazzled at Manchester United, Chelsea and Everton in the 70s and 80s before playing down the leagues. Back at Wrexham in 1993 Thomas – then 37 – was found to be laundering counterfeit money via – a nice touch this – the club’s trainees. Thomas was duly sentenced to 18 months in chokey. Now a pundit and speaker on the after dinner circuit his favourite joke remains: “Roy Keane was on 50 grand a week. So I was I until the police found my printing press.”

Peter Storey

The Arsenal hard man played for England and won the double as part of the club’s 1970/71 side finally retiring from the game in 1978. Whilst most ex-pro’s of that era contented themselves with running a pub or sports shop, Storey decided he’d be better off running a brothel. While he was only fined on that occasion he was subsequently jailed for 3 years after putting up the money for a counterfeit gold scam. He was back inside 10 years later after being found trying to smuggle pornographic videos into the country which he’d hidden in the spare tyre of a car.

Rene Higuita

The former Colombian goalkeeper personal life has been almost as colourful as the shirts he used to wear. And given their eye-bleeding properties that really is saying something.El Loco (The Madman) spent 7 months inside for his peculiar involvement in a kidnapping case. Acting as a go-between for drug barons Pablo Escobar and Carlos Molina, he secured the release of Molina’s daughter by delivering the ransom money. Quite why Higuita was mixed up in all this is baffling, however, by accepting payment for his services he was deemed to be profiting from crime and locked up.Whilst not relevant to this piece I can’t help but point out that goalkeeper Rene Higuita has more international goals (9) than Emile Heskey (8).

Byron Moreno

Given that their profession involves upholding the laws of the game you’d think referees would be amongst the last people in the football community to get into trouble. But there’s always an exception to the rule, so step forward Byron Moreno.

Moreno first came to the world’s attention for, how shall I put it, a rather eccentric performance during a quarter final at the 2002 World Cup. Hosts South Korea beat Italy in a match riddled with so much controversy that the Italian media felt the game had to have been fixed. The match saw Moreno award a controversial penalty to South Korea, send off star player Francesco Totti, and rule out a gold goal winner for Italy for offside.

After the global stink caused by the match you’d have though Moreno might choose to keep a low profile. Not a bit of it. Later that year, back in his home country of Ecuador he was suspended for 20 games after playing 13 minutes of added on time, only ending the game when one of the team’s had scored the two goals they needed to win the match.Seeming to learn no lessons Moreno was back in trouble immediately after his suspension ended, suspiciously sending off 3 players in one match. Now with more baggage than a hotel porter Moreno decided it was time to retire from the game in 2003.

The quiet life wasn’t for him though. It wasn’t until 2010 that Moreno was finally dismissed from the playing field of life, when he was shown the red card and sentenced to prison for two and a half years for trying to smuggle heroin into the United States.

There are lots more we’ve missed so tell us your (least) favourite footballers in the comments…


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