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
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
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