Andy Goram “lived to keep the ball out of the goal,” according to his former Rangers manager, Walter Smith.
Mith had previously put the man on the transfer list, who had been voted Rangers’ best goalkeeper, due to lack of professionalism.
But Goram won the round again from Smith and the former goalkeeper of Oldham, Hibernian and Manchester United, who has died aged 58 after a brief battle with cancer, will go down in history as one of Scottish football’s greatest shot-stoppers.
Andrew Lewis Goram was born in Bury on April 13, 1964. His Scottish father, Lewis – a Rangers fan who played in goal for Hibs and Bury – was the driving force behind his career.
Goram has represented Scotland at cricket seven times while with Hibs and is said to have concentrated on the former sport before. He joined West Brom as an apprentice the same week as the Lancashire Cricket Club ground staff, having captained the schoolboys side of his county.
Though he was released by new West Brom boss Ronnie Allen for being too small, the 5ft 11in goalkeeper chose football as a career after joining Oldham and making his first team debut at the age of 16. He established himself as number one under Joe Royle and would be voted the Second Division team of the year in 1987 by his fellow pros.
The breakthrough in his career came when Royle hired Alan Hodgkinson, a former England international of similar size, as goalkeeping coach. Hodgkinson taught Goram how to take positions to make up for his lack of height and later worked with him at Rangers and Scotland. Goram would further describe him as his “second father” with his influence especially significant after his father’s death from bronchitis when he was 23.
After over 200 appearances for Oldham, Goram moved to Hibernian in 1987 for a £325,000 transfer and then moved on to Rangers on a £1million move in 1991.
Goram was not an immediate success, scoring several soft goals in his first months at Ibrox, including two that left Rangers out of the European Cup against Sparta Prague. Smith asked Goram what he felt could change his Ibrox career and agreed to bring in Hodgkinson as a coach.
There was another crisis meeting in the summer of 1994 when Goram missed a flight from a family holiday in Tenerife as he had to recover from a back injury in a bid to be fit for the Scottish Cup final. Instead, Goram had a drink with his former Oldham teammates and knocked out a Dundee United fan in a bar fight. Smith put him on the transfer list, but no one qualified for him and he was taken off at the start of the following season after losing weight.
‘The Goalie’, as he was nicknamed, never looked back and became a key figure in Rangers’ record-breaking nine consecutive titles. A series of saves in Old Firm games led to Celtic boss Tommy Burns proclaiming in 1996 that “Andy Goram broke my heart” would be on his tombstone. In total, he won five titles and five domestic cups in six seasons.
Goram’s career in Scotland started with Ibrox. Sir Alex Ferguson gave him his international debut in a goalless draw with East Germany in 1985 and he sat on the bench during the 1986 and 1990 World Cups. He was number one at the European Championships in 1992 and 1996, despite being withdrew from a qualifier against Greece in 1995 because he was not “mentally tuned”.
After 43 caps, Goram retired from international football two weeks before the 1998 World Cup after learning that he would be second-choice to 39-year-old Jim Leighton. Another factor in his decision was a series of stories about his private life.
Goram returns from the United States after retiring from international football (PA) That summer proved to be a significant turning point in Goram’s life. He was deemed redundant by future Rangers manager Dick Advocaat and struggled to find a new club. After short contracts with Notts County and Sheffield United, he joined Motherwell and became captain.
A bigger step would follow in 2001 when Ferguson turned to him to resolve an injury crisis at Old Trafford. Goram made two appearances for United before playing shorter spells with Hamilton, Coventry, Oldham, Queen of the South, where he won the Challenge Cup, and Elgin. He retired one game before his 800th appearance in 2004 because his knees could no longer handle the load.
Goram has held coaching roles with the likes of Motherwell, Clyde, Ayr, Airdrie and Dunfermline, but after the end of his playing career, he was more often on the front pages than on the back pages.
He was married and divorced three times. His first wife, Jackie Taylor, decided not to join him in Scotland after signing for Hibs without discussing his move. He had a bitter breakup with his second wife, casino croupier Tracey Fitzpatrick, after joining Rangers, and had divorced pub manager Miriam Wyllie towards the end of his career. Another long-term relationship ended after reports of womanizing, gambling and drinking problems.
Goram sparked controversy over visits to Northern Ireland. He was questioned and placed under police surveillance after speaking on a plane with loyalist terror leader Billy Wright, then wearing a black armband in a game at Celtic Park days after his murder. Goram insisted the gesture was for an aunt who had died months earlier. A photo of Goram holding an Ulster Volunteer Force banner appeared in the press during his Motherwell days. He insisted he wasn’t a bigot and felt more relaxed and welcome in Belfast than in Glasgow.
Goram was diagnosed with esophageal cancer earlier this year. He leaves sons Danny, from his first marriage, and Lewis, from his second marriage.