FI­NAL THIRD

The tale of goal­keeper-turned-wrestler Stu­art Tom­lin­son

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Sheri­dan Robins

FOR­MER Bur­ton Al­bion goal­keeper Stu­art Tom­lin­son may have pre­ma­turely re­tired at the age of 28 but his un­ortho­dox ca­reer move in to pro­fes­sional wrestling has gone from strength to strength.

Just five months af­ter his re­tire­ment, Tom­lin­son re­lo­cated to Or­lando, sign­ing a three-year deal with WWE’s de­vel­op­men­tal arm NXT.

Con­fi­dence

The theatre that sur­rounds wrestling has come nat­u­rally to Tom­lin­son – who won the FA Tro­phy at Wem­b­ley with Bar­row in 2010 – and he puts this down to the con­fi­dence that his foot­ball handed him.

He said:“I’ve not been fazed, maybe be­cause I’ve played foot­ball in front of big crowds.

“I’ve al­ways been fairly con­fi­dent in my own abil­ity to do some­thing, ever since I was young. If you walk into some­thing and you’re not con­fi­dent you will achieve, then you prob­a­bly won’t.”

Fight­ing in fronts of thou­sands of peo­ple is now a reg­u­lar oc­cur­rence for the 30-year-old and he does so as his al­ter ego “Hugo Knox”.

He said: “Hugo Knox is a lively, high-en­ergy and bub­bly guy. On my way to the ring I’ll be danc­ing my socks off, but when the bell goes then it’s time to get down to it.

“Hugo Knox and I are the same per­son; he is a lit­tle bit more am­pli­fied. I’m my­self, I’m not try­ing to be any­body else – it’s just a lit­tle bit more turned up.”

Not only does “Knox” en­ter the ring in distin­guish­able polka dot shorts, but he also takes part in a “promo” where the “per­former” tells the au­di­ence a story – not an easy feat in front of thou­sands of loud wrestling fans. “Get­ting in­ter­viewed af­ter a match stood me in good stead, es­pe­cially when you’re get­ting asked dodgy ques­tions about los­ing 5-0 and it’s all your fault!” he said. Tom­lin­son, 30, had spells with Port Vale, Crewe, Bur­ton and Bar­row be­fore a knee in­jury prompted his re­tire­ment, but now has big am­bi­tions for his wrestling ca­reer.

“I watched this year’s Wrestle­ma­nia where the crowd was 80,000 and I want to per­form on those big stages.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

OLD JOB: Stu­art Tom­lin­son in his Port Vale days and, in­set, in his wrestling kit

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