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After 15 years as just good friends we've fallen in love; SOCCER'S ANDY GRAY AND EX-GYMNAST SUZANNE DANDO TELL HOW ROMANCE BLOSSOMED.

HE is Sky TV's star soccer pundit. She is the former golden girl of Olympic gymnastics, who now works as a sports presenter.

He has two failed marriages behind him and recently split with his live-in girlfriend.

She is separated from her second husband, former Home And Away star Bruce Roberts.

After 15 years as just good friends Andy Gray and Suzanne Dando have fallen in love.

"My ex-girlfriend and I agreed last year that our relationship was not working and we decided we should part," said former Everton star and ex-Scottish international Andy.

"Since then we have been living separate lives.

"In September I met Suzanne at Sky and took her out for dinner. We got on so well that we decided we would quite like to see more of each other.

"Suzanne was married to Bruce, but he decided he wanted to go back to Australia and their divorce will come through later this month.

"Suzanne has a house in Oxfordshire and I have a house in the West Midlands.

"We have no plans at the moment to live together but there is every possibility that will happen in the future but not this year.

"I think we both want to go softly, softly with this."

ANDY, 44, who will be commentating during today's Premiership match between Arsenal and Liverpool, added: "I am not going to sit down like some people who have come out of a failed relationship and say this is the one for me.

"We get on tremendously well together. My four children have all met her and they think she is terrific.

"This is something new for me because I have never gone out with anyone who has been self-sufficient before, a working girl who has her own house, own finances and is very independent.

"We would both love it to last, but we both realise, having been in relationships in the past, that sometimes what you want is not necessarily what you get.

"Relationships don't frighten me. I have been in a few and they didn't work for various reasons but I would like to think Suzanne and I can move on together."

Suzanne, 37, who represented Great Britain in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, and now works for Sky Sports and BBC Northern Ireland told how she met Andy after her second marriage, to Home And Away star Bruce, broke up after two years.

"Bruce went back to Australia in 1998," she said. "We were apart for a year and he just wasn't happy to live over here.

"There really was no way forward for the marriage. I didn't want to live in Australia and Bruce did not want to live here. I feel we were just not strong enough to make the sacrifices which were being asked to be made so it was better for both of us to part company.

ANDY and I have known each other for 15 years because we are both on the sporting circuit and have worked at the same events.

"We have always been good friends but never really saw that much of each other.

"We obviously bumped into each other every now and then at Sky and we found ourselves in similar circumstances with Andy splitting up with his partner and by that time Bruce and I had made the decision to part.

"We just got together, went out for something to eat and it went on from there.

"By that time our decisions with our former partners had been made and we felt it was time to get on with our lives.

"I sincerely hope this is a relationship that will work. It is nice that it has been born out of a long friendship.

"The fact we both work in sport probably helps because it means there is a common denominator in our personalities.

"We both come from very similar backgrounds. Sport means we both have a lot in common and from a personality point of view we have the same sort of drive and outlook on life.

"You have to live for the future so I would like to think this would work.

"When I look over my past relationships I like to think Andy is the one person I have been looking for."
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Author:McKENLAY, STEVE
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 13, 2000
Words:712
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