Paul Rideout: Rejecting Liverpool, ‘outdated’ Warnock & Old Firm ‘hate’

In Depth

Paul Rideout played for no fewer than 13 clubs during a varied career that included spells in Serie A as well as Major League Soccer and the Chinese Super League, long before such far-flung foreign travails became fashionable.

Yet, for most Premier League fans, he remains synonymous with Everton in the mid-90s.

Rideout will always have a special place in the hearts of Evertonians far and wide – but there was a time when he very nearly joined the red half of Merseyside

Having first emerged on the scene as Swindon Town’s youngest ever first-team player, aged just 16, within a few years Rideout was attracting interest from clubs further up the football pyramid.

It came down to a choice between Liverpool, perennial league champions at the time, and Aston Villa, who were fresh from a European Cup success.

Rideout recalls visiting Anfield to talk over a move: “It was a four-hour journey. They took me straight to the boardroom and talked to me about money. Didn’t show me around Anfield.

“If they had done that, if I had met one player, I would have signed. But I never got an opportunity to do that and I was really disappointed.”

Liverpool’s approach was in stark contrast to Villa’s, who rolled out the red carpet for the England schoolboy international.

“I spent the whole day there. They showed me the youth set-up, the reserves, the training ground, the stadium. I even met Gordon Cowans.

“I ended up signing there for less money. It just felt like a good place to be.”

While Rideout says he learned a great deal from Villa’s famous front two of the time, Peter Withe and Gary Shaw, he did have one regret about not joining Liverpool.

“Kenny Dalglish was a God in my eyes. I would have learned a huge amount of him and the way he played. He held the ball up tremendously well.”

Italian regrets

Rideout spent two great years at Villa before he was offered the opportunity to move to Serie A after impressing scouts from Bari.

“It was a weird one because they didn’t come to see me,” he says.

“They came to see Gordon Cowans and I happened to score two goals that day and then they came again and I scored three goals. It was good timing, I guess.”

Still a teenager, Rideout found himself heading to the port city of Bari, just off the Adriatic Sea, along with Cowans as part of the increasingly rare phenomenon of the double transfer.

Despite the sun, sea and fact he scored a steady number of goals, Rideout regrets his move to Italy.

“I wasn’t ready,” he says. “I just wanted to experience the excitement of playing against players like Paolo Maldini and Diego Maradona, but I wasn’t mature enough to go out there.

“I did well in my first season. But I just didn’t like the lifestyle. It’s too slow. The football was not how I played the game. There was just such a slow build-up.

“If I had been 27 or 28, it would have been ideal. I would have appreciated it more. But as a 19-year-old you have a different mentality.”

Crazy Razor and Le Tiss’ chips

Relegated by a single point after just one season in Serie A, he remained in Italy for a further two years before Southampton came to his rescue.

Rideout relished his time on the south coast, playing as part of a Saints side brimming with talent and eccentric characters.

“It was a nice place to live and they had a great young team with players like Alan Shearer, the Wallace brothers, Matt Le Tissier and players like that,” he said.

“Le Tissier was hard work. You had to do his shift for him but had to admire how good he was. For someone so laid back – he used to eat chips for lunch – as far as technique goes, that’s what you want to show kids today. He was absolutely fabulous.

“Shearer was just coming through but you could see how good he was going to be.”

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Paul Rideout and Graham Stuart celebrate

READ: Paul Rideout on ‘brilliant’ Royle, ‘out of his depth’ Walker & cup final heroics

• • • •

Rideout recalls a few run-ins with another of Southampton’s star performers at the time – Neil Ruddock.

“He could lose his temper at the toss of a coin. If you were on his team, that was great, but if you weren’t…well.

“I remember he was pissed off with me once during a training game between the first team and the reserves. He spent the whole game trying to kick me in the stands. I got no protection from the coach either.

“That was Neil though. When he was pissed off, you didn’t want to be in his way. He was a good player though. I ended up playing a few times against him when he was at Liverpool and I was at Everton.”

Neil Warnock and Rangers

Rideout’s next move saw him head to Notts County, who were beginning to make waves under manager Neil Warnock and ultimately came within a whisker of promotion to the Premier League – not that he has many fond memories of life under Warnock.

“His coaching and training were so outdated,” Rideout says. “There were no issues, I just didn’t like his methods. It was ugly.

“I went from Southampton where they played football to a team where you were just trying to beat everyone up. It wasn’t football to me and I’m not soft.”

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The Battle of Bramall Lane

READ: ‘It didn’t feel right’ – Battle of Bramall Lane referee recalls crazy game

• • • •

The experience also stood in stark contrast to one Rideout had enjoyed, just a few months earlier, during a brief spell on loan at Glenn Hoddle’s Swindon Town.

“That was great fun. Glenn was a really cool guy to play for.”

While Rideout has respect for Warnock’s achievements, he maintains that the Yorkshireman’s methods have their limitations.

“I admire what he has done with promotions but when you look at it, every time he has got into the Premier League, he has struggled big time. He can say he didn’t have money or it’s a small club but other teams have done it.”

Thankfully for Rideout, his time at Notts County proved mercifully short, with the striker heading north of the border to join Glasgow Rangers.

Serving as back-up to Ally McCoist and Mark Hateley, Rideout spent 14 enjoyable months as part of a Double-winning Gers side.

“It was awesome,” he says. “The fans just loved the club. The way I was treated was just magic. There was a real sense of togetherness among the players. We’d all go out together for dinner. It felt like a family.”

He has fond memories of the four Old Firm derbies he experienced at the club, with Rangers going unbeaten against the Bhoys throughout his time there.

Rideout also believes there’s a key distinction between the Old Firm derby and the Merseyside derby.

“The Old firm is more aggressive. There’s more hate than a Merseyside Derby,” he says.

“I remember, during a home game, our car park was across the road from the entrance to the ground and just in that short walk to the ground you would get so much abuse. There was a lot of hate there.”

By Jack Beresford

Check out the second part of our interview with Paul Rideout, in which he discusses his time at Everton, working under the “brilliant” Joe Royle and his scathing criticism of Mike Walker.

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