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Stuart Ripley

Stuart Ripley is a former English winger who was born on 20th November 1967 in Middlesbrough. Ripley began his career with hometown club Boro, signing professional terms in 1985. Shortly after a brief loan stint with Bolton in 1986 he established himself as one of the best young wide players in the country. Ripley was a skilful player who could also whip in a mean cross. He helped Boro win promotion to the top flight in 1988 and again in 1992. Ripley was not averse to the odd spectacular goal either. He found the net 26 times in total during his spell at Ayresome Park.

In July 1992 Ripley signed for Kenny Dalglish's newly promoted Blackburn Rovers for £1,300,000. He settled in perfectly with a debut goal in a 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace on 15th August 1992. Ripley's tricky wing play helped Rovers in a 4th place finish for 1992/93. He scored 7 goals that term, including one in a 7-1 thrashing of Norwich. He remained consistent throughout 1993/94 as Rovers pushed Man United hard, before eventually ending the campaign as runners up. The following term Rovers went one better by winning the championship. Ripley provided a great number of assists for the deadly duo of Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton. He put in the cross for Shearer in the 2-1 defeat at Liverpool on 14th May 1995, the day Blackburn clinched the Premier League title.

Ripley remained a regular throughout 1995/96, as Rovers suffered a decline in status, dropping to 7th place under Ray Harford. He was dogged by injury the following season however. Ripley returned to form in 1997/98 under new boss Roy Hodgson. He helped Rovers challenge for a title place that campaign, and was rewarded with a surprise England call up on September 10th 1997. Ripley won his second cap against Moldova that night. His only previous outing for country came on 12th November 1993 in a 7-1 win over San Marino.

Ripley signed for Southampton for £1,500,000 in July 1998. In truth Ripley struggled to emulate his Blackburn form, although he did showcase the odd moment of magic. He made his debut in the 2-1 defeat to Liverpool on 16th August 1998. He featured 24 times during the great escape season of 1998/99, but failed to win over many members of The Dell crowd. Ripley was in and out of the Saints team during 1999/2000. He scored his first goal for the club in a 3-3 draw with Derby on 4th October 1999. His chances were increasingly limited following the arrival of Glenn Hoddle as Saints boss.

After making a handful of appearance for Saints at the start of 2000/01, Ripley was loaned to Barnsley on 8th November. He marked his debut with a goal against former club Blackburn on 8th November 2001. Ripley would remain at Oakwell until January 2001. He spent the latter part of 2001 with Sheffield Wednesday. Ripley suffered a derby day loss in his Owls bow, but bounced back to score in a 4-1 victory over Crystal Palace on 14th April 2001. Ripley came back into the Saints side under Stuart Gray at the start of 2001/02, but contributed nothing of note. His final Southampton appearance came in Gordon Strachan's first match in charge, the 3-3 draw with Ipswich on 24th October 2001. Ripley was released by Southampton in May 2002 and subsequently hung up his boots.

After finishing with football Ripley had plans to study a modern languages degree. The fact that he had children meant the necessary year abroad wasn't practical. He eventually decided to study law instead. Ripley had always been interested in study. His dad negotiated with Middlesbrough that he could go to Sixth Form College while simultaneously working for the club. Ripley eventually had to drop out of college to concentrate on football, but he would later obtain a good grade in A-Level French while at Blackburn. In 2007 he graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with a first class degree. Ripley stayed at the university for a year of Law School study in an effort to qualify as a solicitor. In 2008 he joined Brabners Chaffe Street as a trainee solicitor, qualifying in 2010. Ripley specialises in football related issues, and works with FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Ripley's son is goalkeeper Connor Ripley. Ripley junior was born on 13th February 1993, and began his career with Middlesbrough.

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