Football funny man Razor Ruddock on his major health scare, new book, reality TV, mental health, modern football and why he would be rubbish at punditry

“You won’t see me on Dancing on Ice or Strictly Come Dancing, you can rule them two out. There you go, there it is. Exclusive, Razor retires from ice skating and ballroom dancing!”

For the majority of the UK population last year’s first lockdown was a right old pain in the backside.

But for Neil ‘Razor Ruddock it was something of a saviour.

The former Liverpool defender, once labelled ‘the hardest man in football’, suffered a huge heart scare while filming the popular TV show ‘Harry’s Heroes’.

Despite having next to no symptoms, doctors discovered Razor’s heart was stopping for a few seconds every night when he slept, and his heart beat had risen to 130 beats per minute.

His heart had to be zapped to get his irregular heart beat back to normal, and he revealed earlier this year he ‘technically died’ momentarily during surgery.

And earlier this year he was fitted with a pacemaker and told he couldn’t do hardly anything for six months.

So with everyone else banned from doing near enough anything for months on end, the Covid lockdown fell at the perfect time for one of English football’s biggest characters.

“I didn’t know how bad it was, I had no symptoms and felt normal, so it is lucky I went on Harry’s Heroes,” admitted Razor.

“They sent me to see a top German doctor, who actually had a great sense of humour would you believe!

“They looked at me and said it could have been over at any time really, so it is a good job I went on the show.

“Lockdown came at the right time because I couldn’t put my arms up or drive for six months, I had to sit on my backside.

“So it sorted me right out. I have put a bit of weight back on, but the trouble is he (Boris Johnson) keeps closing the gyms and I love my swimming.

“So hopefully I can go back to it soon.

“But I’m not like I used to be, I don’t go out and on the beer with the lads anymore.

“And it has made me want to get the word out there, that people of a certain age need to go and get tested even if they have never had any heart problems.”

Ruddock managed to lose a substantial amount of weight after his health scare – @neilrazorruddock25

Not only did the lockdown mean Razor could work his way back to health, it also led to him publishing a new book, The World According to Razor, My Closest Shaves, 22 years after his last book, which he admits was ‘a bit crap’.

“I was approached to do it and I didn’t want to really, I did an autobiography in 1998 when I was still playing and it was crap, because I couldn’t slaughter anyone,” said Razor.

“I wanted to do something different because no one says anything that funny in football books really.

“So I called it my closest shaves and its all the funny stories and closest shaves from my career.

“They’re short chapters because I didn’t want to do massive ones like other books, and people have said they can’t put it down and stuff which is nice.

“The guy who did it told me to carry a pad around and write things down, so I did and we had enough for about 30 odd chapters.

“So he recorded all the stuff, went away and did the book in two weeks.

“And I wanted it done word for word, I didn’t want him to go away and use words that Jamie Redknapp uses on Sky and Simon Jordan uses on Talksport, without knowing what they mean!”

One thing lockdown has wiped away for Razor though has been his busy after dinner speaking schedule.

The former Millwall, Spurs, Southampton, West Ham, Liverpool and Crystal Palace defender is one of the most popular speakers on the circuit.

He even travels the world reciting his old tales, but that has had to be put on hold due to Covid.

But as the lovable character admits, there are people in worse situations.

“I had world trips, three nights in New York, Dubai, Bahrain and they are all on the back burner.

“But there are a lot of people worse off than me. People in a pokey flat with four kids stuck in the four walls.

“But I’ve got a nice house with a garden and I can still get out, so there are people worse off than me….and it could be worse, I could be a West Brom fan couldn’t I!”

As Razor explained, things could be a lot worse and they could have been even worse if it wasn’t for Harry’s Heroes and a kick up the backside from one of his old team mates.

In the series ITV showed an emotional clip where Paul Merson, who has had well publicised health issues, expressed his concern regarding Razor’s drinking.

But as the former England defender explains, it was the right thing for his old team mate to do.

“We go back to when we were 16 and if someone else said it I wouldn’t have listened,” insisted Razor.

“But he almost said the right thing at the wrong time and that is why I got the hump with him.

“He was right, course he was. Looking back it was the right thing and it gave me a kick up the backside.”

An emotional part on the Harry’s Heroes programme between Razor and Paul Merson

Razor, like all footballers, has suffered a number of physical injuries during his playing career.

But despite mental health and mental injuries being high on the agenda across society in the modern age, in his day, they were not.

He has spoken openly about mental health in recent years, as have other former professionals from that era, and the ex Liverpool man said he wishes it was like that in his day.

“Mentally I suffered and I turned to booze,” admitted Ruddock.

“It was a sign of weakness. When you’re not playing well and getting stick you drink and then keep everything inside.

“If you tell a coach he’d tell you to man up.

“If you injured your leg you’d see it, but mental injuries weren’t talked about.

“I do wish stuff like today was around, but with other stuff it was different too.

“We didn’t have dieticians, we didn’t have a physio at Liverpool until 1994!

“It was a strange one with mental health, but we knew nothing different.

“It wasn’t like other players or clubs were getting help and we weren’t, it was just the norm.”

Never one to shy away from having something to say, some may think that Razor has the voice to sit alongside the cream of the crop of football pundits in the modern era.

A laugh is never to far away when Razor’s talking, but some of his language may be a little bit too colorful sit next to Neville, Carragher and co on Sky!

And the big man has admitted despite knowing his apples when it comes to tactics, he would crumble when asked to pronounce some of the modern players’ names.

“I have next to zero knowledge of footballers now, it is all the long names and stuff. For example I wouldn’t have a clue who played for West Brom,” said Razor.

“I would be calling them by their numbers. You’ve got paint by numbers, but I would be doing punditry by numbers.

“I know my tactical stuff but names I wouldn’t have a clue. It’s funny, I’m not a big gambler but when it comes to horses I know all the names.”

The era that Razor played in is a long way from modern football in terms of the protection, fitness and well being guidance that is given to the modern player.

There will always be debates about what era was better, and who was better, but for the former tough tackling defender, some of the heroes and the standout flare players of the 90s aren’t seen today.

Razor’s new book

And he thinks a young Razor Ruddock would be good enough to adapt to football in 2021.

“We would all be fitter if we played today, but in today’s game I don’t see any Cantonas, Bergkamps, or Zolas like we played against week in week out.

“Everything is quicker and everyone is fitter, but we would be today.

“I’ve seen some centre backs in the Premier League who can’t trap a bag of cement!

“People look at me as a certain player but that doesn’t bother me.

“I had a good touch and a lovely left foot, and you don’t play for the clubs I did and represent England at every level if you’re not a good player.”

The younger generations these days probably wouldn’t remember Razor for his antics in the 90s and his talent on the football field.

But more for his exploits on television and for his numerous appearances on reality TV programmes such as Big Brother, I’m a Celebrity, Masterchef and Wife Swap.

Some contestants come out of those shows and say they hated the experience but for Razor, after years of working in a pressurised environment, they came as a welcome change.

“I was a footballer since I was 12 to 35. There wasn’t a day I wasn’t training or kicking a football.

“So to do some TV was great, I loved it all. It wasn’t a job it was great fun and you got paid for it which is wonderful.”

Celebrity Masterchef was one of Razor’s most recent appearances on reality TV, and he has revealed he has a few other shows in the pipeline.

But he has also exclusively revealed the public won’t be seeing him in any tight clothing on the Strictly dance floor or donning ice skates any time soon.

“I’ve got a few in the pipeline but I can’t say too much at the moment,” added Razor.

“It can’t be too energetic, I’m slowing down now with the knees.

“So you won’t see me on Dancing on Ice or Strictly Come Dancing, you can rule them two out.

“There you go there it is. Exclusive, Razor retires from ice skating and ballroom dancing!”

His latest project has been his book, which was released in 2020 and has been well received by the general public.

For all the light hearted funny and jokey stories within its pages, and has shone a light on other more serious things that can happen in life.

And after experiencing difficult issues and tough times at points in own his life, Razor has given advice to any young footballers who are facing tough experiences or anyone in general who is struggling.

“Any young lads who are struggling with anything, alcohol, drugs, anything, ask for help,” added Razor.

“If you were drowning you’d put your hand up for help, so if you’re in trouble put your hand up.

“My Dad always used to say the only way to get out of trouble is to get into it!

“If you’re in trouble ask for help straight away, because the quicker you do the quicker things will get better.”

The World According to Razor: My Closest Shaves is now available online

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