Playboy soccer star brought down by drugs
OFTEN described as Scotland's answer to George Best, Frank McAvennie was the archetypal playboy footballer, a player just as likely to be found on the front pages of the newspapers as he was on the back.
He was a prolific striker for St Mirren, West Ham and Celtic, but McAvennie's penchant for the high life often brought accusations that he had wasted a rare goalscoring talent, The Sun reports.
Before he became a professional player, McAvennie had a succession of jobs, from road sweeper to reservist in the Territorial Army.
He even considered being a lorry driver.
"There was this program on TV and the boy had a big juggernaut thing," he once recalled.
"He used to pull some girls, and I thought, that'll do for me."
But he got his break just before his 21st birthday when he was signed by St Mirren in 1980.
McAvennie then decided he had to look the part if he wanted to be taken seriously in the professional game. So he dyed his hair blond.
"I had a Kevin Keegan perm with ginger hair," he explained. "It wasn't a good combination."
As one of the game's hottest properties, McAvennie found himself in demand after his move to West Ham in 1985.
In 1985, for example, he was invited to appear on the chat show Wogan, appearing alongside former Manchester United and Scotland star Denis Law.
McAvennie did well too, but it was only a couple of days later when he went to pick up his mother from Heathrow Airport that he realised just how popular he had become.
"I'll never forget it," he recalled.
"I parked the car and went into the airport. Then all of a sudden I had a load of ladies surrounding me for my autograph.
"And it got a bit chaotic. In the end, someone from British Airways took me through because I was getting mobbed."
And while his rise was fast, it was filled with the pitfalls of fame and in his case the biggest one was cocaine.
It was in 1989 when McAvennie was recovering from a broken leg that he first tried cocaine - and it was the moment his life changed.
As usual, McAvennie was at a nightclub, drinking, when he was offered a line of the drug. And so started a period where drugs came to dominate his lifestyle.
"I've made mistakes, huge mistakes, and done a lot of stupid things with coke," he said.
"I wish now I'd never tried drugs."
How bad did it get?
Well, by September 2000, McAvennie was in court and on trial for conspiracy to deal $205,000 worth of amphetamines and ecstasy.
The trial left McAvennie all but penniless, and with no work to fall back on he had no option but to sell the Scottish League and Cup winners' medals he had won in Celtic's double-winning season in 1987-88.
But pride prevented him from going public, so he approached Scottish businessman and mad Celtic fan Willie Haughey to see if he would be interested in buying them and a deal for "a few thousand pounds" was done.
But 17 years later, the pair met again and Haughey handed McAvennie an envelope, saying: "I believe these are yours."
And, even better, he didn't want his money back.
"I'll never ever forget his kindness. I can't put into words how happy I am to get these medals back," said the former Scotland international.
"I told Willie to look after them and one day, when I was back on my feet, I'd buy them back.
"The fact that I got the medals back in the 30th anniversary of Celtic's centenary season makes it even more special."
When you consider that McAvennie's autobiography was called Scoring: An Expert's Guide - you can understand just what kind of lifestyle the striker enjoyed at his peak.
It was once suggested to him that he had slept with more than 500 women but he wouldn't really comment.
"I wouldn't assume to count them. I wouldn't do that to females. I enjoyed female company too much," he said.
"But unfortunately, people say that because you're in female company you've shagged them, and that's not the case."
And what was the secret of his success?
"It's a lot easier when you're a footballer," he said.
Not only was he linked with Sam Fox and Maria Whittaker, but he had a long-term relationship with glamour model Jenny Blyth too.
"After a session you're sitting back at the house and there's half a dozen Page 3 girls sitting round you," he recalled.
"It doesn't get better than that."
McAvennie hit the ground running in his first spell at West Ham.
In his debut season in 1985-86, the striker scored 26 league goals, which would have been enough to win the Golden Boot were it not for Gary Lineker scoring more for Everton.
"Lineker beat me for league goals by one - but he scored 13 penalties," McAvennie said.
"I never took a penalty. But for that, I might have had a crisp packet named after me instead of him."
This article originally appeared in The Sun and is republished with permission.