Controversial former Leicester City and England footballer Steve Gold has died aged 50.
The legendary striker was found unconscious in his squalid Leicester flat by police after a local off-license owner became concerned for his safety.
Police confirmed the news earlier today.
Laura Pintage, proprietor of the 'Booze Till You Snooze' off-license told us, "Steve was a regular in the shop. Sometimes he would be in every couple of hours for his next bottle of cheap cider. I noticed he hadn't been in for most of the day so I knew something was wrong. That's when I called the police. It's devastating news. My profits are going to plummet because of this. Inconsiderate git."
In recent years Gold had slipped into a drink and drugs hell following an unfortunate meeting with a clairvoyant who predicted he would be dead by the age of fourty-nine as the result of a frenzied night with a double D mistress. She was a year out with her prediction. However, she was correct with the other part of her fateful guesswork. The double D mistress would turn out to be drink and drugs.
Born in 1962 at the Leicester Hospital For The Criminally Insane to his kleptomaniac mother Iris, he was taken into care shortly after his birth. His adoptive parents, Harry and Petula noticed his prodigious footballing talent at the age of just four. A tearful Petula recalled, "Steve had been playing with my husbands ball and was showing signs of promise but it was his polo mint keepy-uppy that made us realise he was something special. He would spent hours in the garden honing his skills with that polo mint."
In 1970, Leicester City's chief scout, Dave Sheepskin, spotted Gold kicking his polo mint around in a park near the clubs Filbert Street stadium. Impressed, he instantly signed Gold to schoolboy forms.
Gold progressed steadily thorough the Leicester ranks and made his first-team debut at the tender age of sixteen years and one day. However, it wouldn't be long before he experienced his first taste of controversy.
During an away match in the 1980-81 season at Shrewbury Towns Gay Meadow stadium he was shown eleven red cards. Shrews players had taunted him about being adopted and he promptly went around punching each and every one of his opponents before running off down the tunnel and urinating in the referees changing room. Those reckless actions led to Gold being suspended for the rest of the 1980-81 season and the whole of the following 1981-82 campaign. However, City remained loyal to their young starlet.
It was during this extended break that Gold discovered a taste for heavy boozing, casual drug taking and womanising. Gold once quipped, "If you can't have a pint, a line and a shag after a game what's the point of being alive?"
His chiselled looks and wavey blonde hair attracted plenty of female attention. This was to be the cause of his next controversial episode. During a home match in the 1983-84 season he was propositioned by a young female fan. Rather than waiting until after the match, he sprinted into the stand, whipped off his shorts and jockstrap, before taking up the offer from the pretty young woman in full view of other spectators. This prompted a gross indecency charge and another lengthy suspension.
After serving the suspension he returned for the beginning of the 1984-85 season. It was to be a career making season for Gold as he struck thirty goals in thirty-five games earning himself the European Golden Boot and his first England call up.
Away from the pitch he appeared to be settling down with his new girlfriend Sandra. His wild drinking seemed to be under control.
The 1985-86 season was another fine year for Gold. Despite missing three months with a broken mullett he bagged twenty-four goals and made the England squad for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
Mexico '86 should have launched Gold onto the world stage. Instead, it ended in disgrace. Gold was sent home after being found unconscious in a Monterrey brothel with a ladyboy called Raoul.
Following his return from Mexico his girlfriend Sandra left him for a lesbian javelin thrower.
His reputation in tatters, the next season was not a good one for Gold. He found the back of the net just twice, both own goals, in twenty-nine appearances. Leicester were relegated and in financial difficulty. Gold was transfer listed as a result.
Liverpool showed an interest in Gold despite his previous indiscretions and tabled a £1 million bid for him. The move fell though after Gold demanded a "car wheel" clause in his contract. He believed that living in Liverpool would cost him a fortune in new car wheels so he wanted the club to agree to pay for any new ones. Outraged by this terrible stereotyping, Liverpool pulled the plug on the deal labelling Gold as a "scally."
He returned to Leicester with his not inconsiderable tail between his legs and took steps to rebuild his reputation by hiring the PR firm Leech & Associates. They offered him one simple but sage piece of advice, stop being a prat. Gold claimed that he had paid £5000 for this advice and joked that he'd been offered the same advice dozens of times for free in the past.
Leicester bounced back to division one at the first attempt. Gold scoring thirty-eight goals in the process.
The next two seasons saw Gold fight his way back into contention for an England place, netting sixty-three goals in an average Leicester team.
After three successful seasons, more importantly free from controversy, Gold made the England squad for the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Once again, big things were expected. However, Gold was to succumb to temptation again. He was photographed with a group of nuns in Rome enjoying what was described politely as a "special" massage. It was the last happy ending Gold would experience.
Sent home in disgrace again and with his beloved Leicester considering what to do with their wayward star he began drinking heavily and started taking cocaine on a regular basis.
The final straw for Leicester came when Gold failed a club drug test. His contract was terminated with immediate effect.
By this time Gold was twenty-eight and appeared to be on the football scrapheap. Like a careless golfer, he was now clubless and missed the whole of the 1990-91 season as a result.
In the summer of 1991 he was handed a lifeline by Plymouth Argyle when they offered him a trial, provided he passed a drug test first. He passed the test and impressed enough to be offered a two-year deal. Part of the deal included regular drug testing.
Three weeks into his Plymouth contract he failed a drug test and was fired. He had also developed a penchant for Thai ladyboys and had attempted to get Plymouth to pay a £50,000 debt he had run up as a consequence. They didn't pay it.
There was to be no return for Gold this time.
His once sparkling career finished, an expensive cocaine habit and ladyboy addiction saw him slip into a deep depression.
Unable to deal with life after football, he became a recluse. Only leaving his grubby flat to buy more cheap cider and cocaine.
After fifteen years in the wilderness he was invited onto Sky's Soccer AM. This was to be has last public appearance and it ended in disaster after he fell off the couch and tried to break his fall by grabbing Helen Chamberlains shirt, ripping it clean off and exposing her breasts on live T.V. Gold was clearly inebriated and questions were raised as to why Sky had allowed him to appear in such a state.
Twenty-one years since he last disgraced a football pitch and minutes after his last line of cocaine, Gold is now gone and mostly forgotten.
Gold is survived by his dog Groucho, named after his great friend Howard Marks, and a spider plant called Leggy after his ex-girlfriend Sandra.
His funeral will be held at the One Stop Death Shop,Welford Road, Leicester, on Friday at 11am.
Any donations should be made to the Steve Gold Retired Thai Ladyboy Foundation.