Grobbelaar's ex-wife breaks her silence
Zimbabwean legend Bruce Grobbelaar’s ex-wife today breaks her silence on the match-fixing scandal that rocked the game and confesses: “I now believe he was GUILTY.”
Debbie devotedly stood by the dodgy Liverpool keeper through three high-profile court cases over revelations that he took bungs to throw several top Premier League games.
But now she tells how heartless Grobbelaar, 52, BULLIED her into supporting his battle against bribe allegations, CHEATED on her, and DUMPED her.
Then he left her penniless and facing legal costs when he lost the final case and went bankrupt.
Brazen Grobbelaar still protests his innocence to this day. But in a no-holds-barred interview, Debbie, 55, offers NEW EVIDENCE about the crook’s dealings.
And she tells the News of the World: “At first I believed him when he said he hadn’t done anything wrong – I wanted what he said to be true. But having seen the way Bruce has acted towards me and our two daughters, now I’m not so sure. I believe my husband DID take bungs.”
The beauty once lived the WAG high life with Grobbelaar during his glory years at Anfield – living in luxurious houses, holidaying in millionaire playgrounds across the globe and even attending a State banquet with the Queen.
But now she scrapes a living as an air hostess earning only £250 a week and living alone in her home in Surrey.
Debbie’s revelations will stun shady Grobbelaar who always painted himself as the victim of the betting scam.
She tells of SINISTER PHONE CALLS the goalie made about money. And how he stashed large bundles of cash in the AIRING CUPBOARD with his medals.
“He’s certainly capable of cheating millions of football fans for a few thousand pounds,” says Debbie. “He has done nothing to show he’s a decent guy.”
Debbie married him in 1983 just three months after meeting him. She shared his glory decade with Liverpool as he won the European Cup, six league titles and three FA Cups. “We had nice houses and cars, and I’d wear fantastic designer clothes,” says Debbie. “We’d have holidays in places like Mauritius, the Cayman Islands and South Africa and had a place in Portugal. We went to high profile parties, including a State banquet at Buckingham Palace. I never worried about money.”
Then came the bombshell in November 1994 when former Zimbabwean soldier Grobbelaar was accused of taking a £40,000 bribe after telling a pal he would “do the business” and throw a match.
It was reported that Grobbelaar was offered the bung before his Liverpool side’s Premiership clash with Newcastle United in November 1993. Within an hour of the Reds losing 3-0, he rang businessman Heng Suan Lim – nicknamed The Short Man – who was accused of being the middle-man in a match-fixing syndicate.
His crookedness was revealed after our sister paper The Sun trapped him on camera accepting a separate £2,000 bribe from business partner Chris Vincent while he was later playing for Southampton. Unknown to the goalie, Vincent was secretly gathering evidence to expose him.
Debbie recalls how she phoned her husband in shock after their Wirral home was swamped by reporters while he was away. “I asked him what the hell was going on,” says Debbie. “He said, ‘It’s a load of rubbish.’ Yet when I saw him later he wouldn’t discuss it with me.”
The keeper stood trial at Winchester Crown Court in January 1997 alongside Lim, Wimbledon star John Fashanu – accused of taking £20,000 – and Dutch goalkeeper Hans Segers, who it was claimed took a £19,000 kickback. The court heard how Grobbelaar had made a series of phone calls to Fashanu and Lim in the run-up to the Newcastle match and had sneaked off for clandestine meetings with Lim. It also emerged that he kept £35,000 in cash in a drawer at home. But all four were found not guilty.
Raking over her memories of that time, Debbie recalls how her husband would sneak into other rooms in the house and speak quietly into his phone. She overheard him talking to Fashanu. At first she thought the calls were about a betting tips column he wrote, but now she suspects it may have been more sinister.
Debbie said: “He was very secretive on the phone. I did think it was odd behaviour. He’d never even played with Fashanu.”
She also reveals how Grobbelaar – then on £4,000 a week – kept a load of cash around the house and even in the airing cupboard. She was shocked to discover there was as much as £35,000 stashed away.
“He had a drawer full of notes, and he kept money in the airing cupboard along with his medals and my jewellery because we didn’t have a safe,” she says. “I knew there was money around the house, but I never knew how much – or where it came from.”
When Grobbelaar decided to sue The Sun for libel, Debbie pleaded with him not to do it. “I had supported him and even had to return to work as an air stewardess to help with his legal costs,” she said.
“I wanted it all to end there. He had got off and everyone thought he’d been lucky. But whenever I mentioned dropping the case he’d just say, ‘support me – otherwise, you know where the door is’.
” I stayed for the kids.”But all the libel trial in July 1999 did was bring her more pain as undercover tape recordings revealed to the world that the rat had been CHEATING on her.
In one call to a woman he was heard to say: “I’ve been in trouble with my missus. It’s a separation job. She’s thought she’s found out, through a mate, that I’ve been f****** around.”
Debbie says: “To have that played out in court and in public was utterly humiliating.” Astonishingly, Grobbelaar won the first libel trial – netting him £85,000 plus £400,000 legal costs. Debbie collapsed in tears. But her nightmare wasn’t even nearly over. Afterwards – as The Sun lodged an appeal – Grobbelaar went off to Zimbabwe to coach.
Debbie dutifully followed. It was the final throw of the dice as she tried to salvage their marriage for the sake of their daughters Tahli, now 25, and Olivia, 21.
But the former keeper soon lost the job – and Debbie says he cheated on her again. “I thought he was seeing someone else but again he’d keep denying it until I found an email. It hurt, but I can’t say I was surprised.”
So she left him – but still attended the 2001 appeal hearing. This time he was finally outed as a crook and a liar and told to pay The Sun’s £1million legal bill.
Unable to find the funds, Grobbelaar was made bankrupt in 2004 – deepening Debbie’s misery. He told bankruptcy officials he had assets in Debbie’s name and since then she’s been chased for money. Debbie says: “I’m now having to represent myself as I can’t afford lawyers. And until it’s all over I cannot do anything like sell my home. I’m totally trapped because of him.”
Grobbelaar still kept twisting the knife as their marriage ended in 2008. “He filed for divorce in South Africa because he knows it’s a man’s world there and I’d get nothing,” says Debbie.
Last week he cruelly served papers seeking £14,000 legal costs for the divorce hearing to Debbie at the home of her dying mother.
Debbie says: “He rang my dad, apparently to send condolences because my mother has weeks to live. But it was to find out where I was so he could file papers.
“I don’t know what possessed him to do such a cruel thing, but that was the final straw for me – I felt I had to speak out.”
She says Grobbelaar’s relationship with their two daughters has been damaged by the saga. “Tahli hasn’t spoken to him since he served the papers on me,” says Debbie. “Olivia has a limited relationship with him, but it is not as strong as it was.”
Debbie is now writing her life story. “He has walked away from his responsibilities and left this family in turmoil and doesn’t seem to care,” she says.
“He has no conscience or morals. I wouldn’t put anything past him – including rigging football matches.” News of the World