Friday, May 23, 2003

Blame Tony Allen for this week's high-scoring Amputee of the Week.

In the 1951-52 season, Sheffield Wednesday striker Derek Dooley scored 46 goals in just 30 league appearances, a club milestone which has yet to be equalled 50 years on. His goalscoring exploits that season helped Wednesday win the old Second Division title.

But after scoring 16 goals in 24 matches in Division One, and with Dooley touted at the time as a future England centre-forward, on an icy pitch at Preston he broke a leg in a collision with North End goalkeeper George Thompson.

While recovering in hospital, gangrene set in and surgeons had to amputate the leg to save his life.

Although he had no trade to fall back on, after a spell working at a baker's, Dooley was eventually offered a role as development fund manager with Wednesday, a beloved return to the club he had supported as a boy.

In 1971, Dooley became manager, but unfortunately failed to have the same impact he had as a player and was sacked on Christmas Eve of 1973.

Soon after, Dooley then became a rep for a sportswear manufacturer in Leeds, and it was while on a visit to Sheffield United, he was given the job as commercial manager.

So began an alliance which has spanned more than 25 years, one which he has also served as managing director prior to his appointment just over a couple of years ago as football club chairman.

Dooley says of his amputation: "I thought my world had collapsed. I'd been married for just six months, I'd got no house, no money and football was my life. So when I lost my leg, I thought, 'Well, I might as well snuff it because I've not got a lot to live for'. My wife, Sylvia, and my mother and father gave me the strength to carry on."

Derek Dooley, now 73, received an MBE in the New Year's Honours List. Today he receives another gong -- he's Amputee of the Week

Daily Telegraph: Dooley a man for all seasons

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