Tears Of Sadness, Tears Of Disbelief

Tragic News Of Fomer Wolves Striker

We were half-expecting to read the weekend news about Ruben Neves’ exit from Wolves, even if his chosen destination was a major surprise.

The appalling announcement about Cedric Roussel (pictured right) was something else totally, though, and utterly disproves that famous old ‘life and death’ saying coined by Bill Shankly.

The loss of the former Belgian and Wolves striker at only 45 truly was one of those ‘Have I read that correctly?’ moments; another of those way-too-early departures.

Over recent decades, the Wolves family have mourned Ian Handysides, who died at 27, Rob Hindmarch (41), Paul Birch (46), Mark Kendall (49), Ian Cartwright (52) and, most harrowingly, the 32-year-old Lee Collins. All of them were taken long before their time and now we have another to add to the tragic list.

Roussel’s name probably hadn’t commanded much discussion around Molineux since his sale in 2003, especially during the Neves-inspired halcyon years under Fosun, Nuno, Lopetegui and others.

Like the brilliant Portuguese midfielder, he had spent his formative seasons overseas and later departed to foreign climes. But, there, the career likenesses end.

Two goals in 28 League and cup appearances here explain why Roussel’s time in the West Midlands was far from memorable and, depressingly, he wasn’t the only player of that era to find it easier being successful elsewhere.

He had previously impressed sufficiently at Coventry, partly in unison with Robbie Keane, to persuade Dave Jones to invest £1.5m of Wolves’ money in him in the late winter of 2000-01.

Ron Atkinson certainly spoke the player up – and not just as part of his sales pitch. He told friends in the media after the formalities had been completed that he thought the Molineux promotion dream had been considerably boosted as a result of the deal.

But the striker’s first few months in these parts were unimpressive and complicated by fitness problems and it was only at the start of the 2001-02 season that his fortunes flickered with an opening-day goal at home to Portsmouth and another in a second draw three weeks later, this time at Sheffield United.

The upturn didn’t last and the 23-year-old soon retreated once more to the fringes, his shortcomings being masked by the signings of Nathan Blake, Kenny Miller and Dean Sturridge and the club’s emergence as strong promotion contenders.

Ruben Neves and family waving farewell at Molineux just before the end of the season.

Roussel, the holder of three international caps, subsequently returned to his native Belgium and later had stints in Russia, Holland, Italy and Cyprus in a playing career that stretched until he was 37.

He is said to have since earned a living in real estate, with a cardiac arrest reported as the cause of his death, which occured 16 years to the day since the passing-away of Derek Dougan.

Following a weekend in which we have witnessed tears of a different kind from Saudi-bound Ruben Neves in a powerful expression of thanks to everyone at Wolves, here was the reminder that football is important – but some other matters are more important.