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Ruel Fox

Norwich Career: 1986-1994 (219 appearances, 25 goals))
Current Club: Whitton United (Chairman)
Date of Birth: 14/01/1968 
Nationality: English / Montserrat

Biography

Despite being born in Ipswich, the home of Norwich's deadliest rivals, Ruel Fox wore the Yellow and Green of Norwich City from 1986 to 1994 on 184 appearances with another 35 games as substitute. He made his debut against Coventry in 1986, following in his neighbour Louie Donowa's footsteps as a tricky winger. However he soon lost his first team place to Dale Gordon and did not reclaim it until after Dale's transfer to Rangers.

Manager Mike Walker's departure to Everton in January 1994 was the catalyst for Ruel's transfer to Newcastle United for £2,250,000. Whilst there, he acquired an England B cap alongside Chris Sutton and Tim Sherwood. 12 goals in 58 games for the Magpies could not guarantee Ruel a first-team place and so he joined Tottenham Hotspur in the autumn of 1995 for £4.25million.

Under Gerry Francis, Ruel was initially out of favour at White Hart Lane as Spurs played a five man defence utilising three centre-halfs instead of the traditional 4-4-2 position. Andy Sinton and Darren Anderton were the preferred wide players. The signing of David Ginola and Jose Dominguez during the 1997 close season did nothing to secure Ruel's position. The Mirror reported on June 13th 1997 that Spurs were willing to let Ruel go for £3m. Crystal Palace and Southampton were rumoured to be interested. Leicester City later made a £2 million bid but Ruel was not interested in making a move to Filbert Street even though there was a substantial ex-Canary presence there (Spencer Prior, Mark Robins, Robert Ullathorne). Ruel fought his way back into the Tottenham first team under Christian Gross but was rumoured by the media to be released by George Graham in his shake-up on the under-performing Spurs side. However the Evening Standard revealled though that Spurs' Director of Football David Pleat wishes to re-open talks with Ruel and other players whose contract is soon to expire. This suggests that there is a place for Foxy within George Graham's brave new world at White Hart Lane.

At the end of May 1999, a number of sunday tabloids linked Ruel with a 750,000 move to Everton. On Sunday 27th June 1999, Ruel was linked with a return to Carrow Road by Sport First. It was claimed that George Graham was keen on Craig Bellamy and was willing to offer Ruel in part-exchange for Norwich's young Welsh international. Ruel was valued at 1million and was also interesting Fulham and Ipswich. TEAMTALK then reported in September 1999 that Norwich supremo Bruce Rioch was planning loan moves for Ruel and Rangers midfielder Derek McInness to cover for Norwich's appalling injury crisis and poor start to the 1999/2000 season. It appears that Ruel would not cost much to sign with Sport First suggesting he was available for 250,000 on 17th October 1999.

On 13th January 2000, Teamtalk reported that Birmingham City were seeking to take either Ruel or fellow Spurs winger Jose Dominguez on loan. The Birmingham deal collapsed but the Sunday Mirror reported on 16th January 2000 that Charlton were interested in taking Ruel on loan. A week later, Ruel was linked with a return to Carrow Road. However the former Norwich favourite ruled out such a move. It appears that the stumbling block to such a move would be a financial one. Fox who has only made six appearances for Tottenham this term, makes such a point. He said: "I've heard Norwich are looking for players on loan, and I've seen that Bruce Rioch has said that it's hard to get them. The problem would be the financial side - that would be the stumbling block." Fox says it would be "difficult" for Norwich to afford him, and he admits that while he is at least regularly involved in the first team at Spurs he is happy to stay at White Hart Lane. In February 2000, West Bromwich Albion made an attempt to take Ruel to The Hawthorns on loan but again this move was rejected by Fox.

In early March 2000, Tottenham announced that six of their squad were up for sale including Ruel who has only had limited first team opportunities during 1999/2000. Ruel was expected to drop into the First Division. Other victims of this purge include Ramon Vega, Jose Dominguez, Mark Gower, Paul McVeigh and Neale Fenn. Ruel was supposedly furious to discover this in the Tottenham match day programme as he had not been previously told that he was surplus to requirements. "To discover you are on the transfer list by reading it in the programme is not the right way to go about things. It's as if I was the last person to know what was going on. I can't believe David Pleat could not tell me face to face what the club intended to do with me." said Ruel to the Sunday People on March 12th 2000.

Despite interest from Dundee United, it was announced on 16th March 2000 that caretaker Norwich manager Bryan Hamilton had agreed with Spurs to take Ruel on loan until the end of the 1999/2000 season. Unfortunately for Norwich, Ruel could not agree terms and the loan was called off on Monday 20th March, with Ruel claiming other Premiership sides were interested. A bid was made by Bolton to take Ruel to Lancashire on Transfer Deadline Day but along with 5 other Premiership stars, Ruel rejected the drop down a division. However the tabloid media reported the following Sunday that Ruel was almost certain to complete a move back to Carrow Road in the summer of 2000. The News of the World reported on 14 May 2000 that Birmingham want to sign Fox permanently though Norwich and Bolton were supposedly interested. In early July 2000, the Sunday People reported that West Bromwich Albion's manager Gary Megson was having doubts about signing Fox as Tottenham wanted to recover 1million from the 4.2million they paid to Newcastle. West Brom and Spurs agreed a 150,000 transfer fee in August 2000 but Ruel was unable to come to terms with Spurs over his severance pay and the transfer dragged on. Gary Megson appeared to end his interest in signing his former Carrow Road teammate. However the deal re-appeared on 25th August 2000 with Ruel finally signing for 200,000 although it was too late for him to make his debut on 26th August at Barnsley. Ruel ended his first season at West Brom with 38 appearances but only 1 goal.

Despite helping the Baggies to promotion into the Premiership in 2001/02, Ruel announced that he would not seek to renewing his contract with West Brom when it expired in June 2002 and that he might retire from football. West Brom responded by releasing Ruel from his contract on 25th April 2002, along with James Quinn and Andy Petterson. The Sunday People linked Ruel on 5th May with a move to Southend, managed by his former teammate Rob Newman. However it was also suggested that he might join new Bristol Rovers manager Ray Graydon as Rover's youth team coach. Ruel was next spotted training with Southend at the beginning of September 2002

Jewson Eastern League club Stanway Rovers supposedly pulled off a real coup at the end of September 2002 by signing Fox. Rovers boss Steve Ball beat off a number of other clubs including Colchester United, Dagenham & Redbridge and Canvey Island. Fox, who has a home in North Essex, chose to join Rovers after chatting with former Norwich midfielder Ball. However this is now widely believed to have been a hoax

In February 2004, Ruel turned out for his hometown team of Whitton United in a friendly against East Begholt. Later that year, he joined them as their manager. He combines this with running a bar / restaurant in Ipswich.

At the beginning of October 2004, Ruel agreed to help the Carribean island of Montserrat trhough coaching and identifying players in Britain eligible to play for the footballing minnows. "I shall be looking at the lower divisions in this country to find some players and one player that springs to mind is Tes Bramble at Southend." Montserrat are expected to make their bow in the qualifying stages for the World Cup in 2010. Whitton will be left in the safe hands of Fox's number two Ronnie Mauge whilst Fox is with Montserrat. Foxy has since made his international debut for Montserrat and has scored his first international goal in the 5-4 defeat to Antigua on 2nd November 2004. Fox has since left his role with Whitton United, replaced by Ronnie Mauge.

Fox returned to his hometown of Ipswich to become a coach at Suffolk College in November 2008. The college run the PASE (Programme of Academic and Sporting Excellence) in conjunction with Whitton United, whom Fox managed for a while. Fox said: “A lot of players, once they finish football, they have got nothing else to fall on. When I was an academy player they used to send us to college, but for some reason that stopped somewhere along the line. I ended up having to go back to college at 36-years-old.”

A partnership between Suffolk College and Whitton United, PASE gives a group of young Under-19 players the pathway towards a good level of non-league football, or even beyond, while at the same time maintaining their focus on academic studies. The players train like professionals on a daily basis, play for a college team during the week, while many are involved with Whitton United's Ridgeons League side at weekends.

In this day and age, with all the money and glamour that surrounds the game, everyone wants to be a footballer,” said Fox. “But it's getting harder and harder to get into the game. If I turned back the clock and was trying to make it now I wouldn't be surprised if I didn't make it. A lot of these kids are concentrating so hard on making it as a footballer that they forget about the academic side of things, so when that disappointment comes along they don't know what to do. That's where this scheme comes in because it hopefully gives the players motivation to do well in both football and their studies.”

As of June 2010, when Fox appeared in court on speeding charges, he now works as a fitness instructor for Ipswich Borough Council and is self employed, running fitness boot camps.

He is also chairman of Whitton United football club


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