Paul Nuttall follows in the footsteps of Tony Blair with football mix-up

Written by David Singleton on 1 December 2016 in Diary
Diary

Ukip's leader has scored an own goal with claims he played for Tranmere Rovers.

Ukip’s new leader Paul Nuttall has tried to kick in to touch his own website's claim that he was once a professional footballer.

As Nuttall tries to focus on new immigration figures out today, he has been distracted by awkward questions about what he did before politics.

According to two old posts on paulnuttallmep.com, the Ukip leader was once a professional footballer for his local Merseyside team, Tranmere Rovers.

One such post written in 2010 told how Nuttall had congratulated Blackpool on winning promotion to the Premier League. It then called Nuttall "Ukip’s Blackpool Euro MP, who spent time as a professional footballer for Tranmere Rovers".

But when MailOnline contacted the National League club to ask whether he had ever played for the first team, a spokesman said: "Definitely not."

Ukip blamed a "press officer" who had drafted the releases and posted them on the website. And a spokesman insisted: "Paul has never described himself as a former professional footballer."

Yet Nuttall is not the first party leader to get himself into a pickle over his local football club.

Back in 1997, Tony Blair was widely reported to have said he watched Jackie Milburn play for Newcastle United - even though the ex-PM was 4 and living in Australia when Milburn retired.

Throughout his premiership, Blair was mocked about his apparent claim which first surfaced in the Sunday Sun, the region's Sunday newspaper. But in 2008, it emerged that the paper had misreported a BBC interview in which Blair had talked about his support for Newcastle.

Explaining what had happened, Blair said: "People asked two completely separate questions. One, when I used to go and watch Newcastle. Then someone asked me who was the greatest ever footballer so I said Jackie Milburn.

"The two elided together. What a lot of trouble I had over it."

 

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