Mike Walker: Rumour campaign against me
Former Norwich City manager Mike Walker today said rumours that he is battling alcoholism had stopped him getting a job back in football. The man who masterminded Norwich's famous Uefa Cup adventure, which saw the Canaries become the first ever English side to beat Bayern Munich in the Olympic Stadium, has been forced to come out and defend himself against the rumour-mongering that is threatening to wreck his managerial career.
Former Norwich City manager Mike Walker today said rumours that he is battling alcoholism had stopped him getting a job back in football.
The man who masterminded Norwich's famous Uefa Cup adventure, which saw the Canaries become the first ever English side to beat Bayern Munich in the Olympic Stadium, has been forced to come out and defend himself against the rumour-mongering that is threatening to wreck his managerial career.
Mr Walker, 60, moved to Cyprus to manage Apoel Nicosia in 2000, but only two games into the new season in 2001 he was sacked.
It was after he left Apoel and following his successful court battle to win the money he was owed from the remainder of his contract that the slurs started. His name has been blackened on the managerial circuit in Cyprus and has prevented him from getting a job for the past five years.
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“A few weeks after I left Apoel,a friend of mine was told by a club official that I was an alcoholic when asked about why I was fired,” revealed Mr Walker, who had two stints with City from 1987-94 and 1996-98. In his first season as the Canaries' boss, he took them to their highest ever league position of third in the Premiership.
Initially, Mr Walker brushed it aside and thought nothing of it, until the rumour surfaced again about two months ago when a close associate tried to put in a good word to get him a staff job at Anorthosis in Cyprus.
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“Their immediate reaction was: 'No way he's a drunk', and it made me angry that this malicious slander was still doing the rounds. I'll take any test to prove this is absolute rubbish,” said Walker.
“I went to my doctor to see if he would vouch for me that I had not been a drinker and carry out any necessary blood tests and he said he would. This is not about getting a job, it's not about the money. I just want to clear my name. I have nothing against Apoel but I want the rumours to stop.”
Former Colchester boss Mr Walker, who managed Everton in between his spells at Carrow Road, still does not know why Apoel sacked him and believes that he is being punished for “daring” to take the club to court for unfair dismissal.
“If people think I am a clueless coach that's their opinion and I can live with that, but not these drink allegations. I can't get a job. Last season some 44 managers got the sack and there's only 14 teams, but everyone usually finds another job - I couldn't get another interview.”
The closest Mr Walker came to being hired was when interviewed by Larnaca's Alki last summer.
Mr Walker, whose wife Jackie died of cancer in November 1997, loves life in Cyprus. “I would prefer to stay in Cyprus and work. I am looking in England and have had two interviews in the last year with lower league sides, but I don't want to live in England.”
After he was sacked by Everton, Mr Walker returned to Norwich and set up Ace Skips in Hall Road.
Norwich City coach Steve Foley, a friend and former colleague of Mr Walker, said: “Mike used to have suits specially made without pockets so he wouldn't have to reach into them and buy a drink. I am staggered by the rumours and don't believe them for one minute.”
Former Norwich City goalkeeper Bryan Gunn, said: “Having worked together closely for a number of years there was no indication of him having alcohol problems.”