‘Maverick’ is one of the kinder labels for Mickey Thomas, the ex-United midfielder whose eventful career also saw him play for Wrexham, Chelsea, Everton, WBA, Brighton, Leeds, Stoke, Derby - and Kirkham Open Prison FC.
Mickey’s world didn’t just revolve around pulling on boots on a Saturday afternoon for club and country (his beloved Wales, with whom he earned fifty-one caps and became a national hero). His life was dedicated, too, to pulling birds, pranks and generally getting into scrapes which would make Paul Gascoigne look like a choirboy. His outrageous lifestyle was oh so public. But no one knows about the heartbreaking events in his private life which Mickey kept secret for twenty years. How he hit rock bottom, and below, and survived as one of the greatest characters the game has ever known.
Mickey's book charts his life from the early days on a rough council estate - when he left school at 14 without the ability to read or write and had to use a dictionary to write letters to clubs asking for trials - through to his spells at the bright lights of Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge, where he became a cult hero for United and Chelsea fans.
There are extraordinary highs - playing for Wrexham again at 35, scoring a breathtaking winner against Arsenal in the FA Cup - and heart-rending lows, none more so than the episode in 1993 when he was jailed for passing counterfeit money to trainee players. And then, emerging from prison with no job, no money and no respect, having to sleep on his Mum's sofa and working on the roads.
Through it all, Mickey has endeared himself to football supporters with his good humour and he continues to do so in his work as a pundit on MUTV and as a radio co-commentator for Key 103 and MUTV Online (www.manutd.com/video).