Saturday, June 2 – 1984
Soccer star Bruce Grobbelaar, hero of Europan Cup winners Liverpool, last night pleaded to be given British nationality. The extrovert South African-born goalkeeper has been fighting for naturalisation for more than three years and he fears he could be deported.
“I don’t seem able to cut through all the red tape surrounding my application,” he said.
“There are times I wish my name was Zola Budd.
“Being kicked out of Britain is a worry which hangs over me like a cloud.”
Last year Bruce, 26, married a British girl, Debbie, a former air stewardess. Now Debbie is expecting a baby in August and he has become doubly anxious.
He said: “I have a three year old contract with Liverpool, but I don’t feel safe.
“I have to apply for a work permit every year. Without one I can be kicked out of Britain.”
Debbie said: “Bruce wants to settle in Britain and become British. It’s his dearest wish.”
Bruce holds a Zimbabwe passport because he was brought up there. His father of Dutch ancestry but his mother’s grandparents were from England.
South African athlete Zola Budd qualified automatically for naturalisation because of her father’s claim to British nationality.
Last night a Home Office spokesman said it would be another 18 months before Bruce knows whether he will be allowed to stay in Britain. Only then, after he has lived here for five years, can his application be considered.
The case of Zola Budd was “totally different,” he said.
“Mr Grobbelaar is being treated in the normal way.”
Mr Peter Robinson chief executive at the Anfield club said: “We will do anything we can to assist Bruce over this worry.”
If Grobbelaar did become British, he would not be able to play for England because he was capped by Zimbabwe. International football rules forbid a player representing two countries.
(Daily Express, 02-06-1984)