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Here are five good reasons that prove England's soccer boss Glenn Hoddle is a few French fries short of the happy meal.

Anne Begg, MP

I HAVE often been puzzled, particularly since I began to use a wheelchair, why some people pat me on the head and say: "Poor wee soul."

I may be many things in life - argumentative, talkative, energetic, dogmatic, happy - but a "poor wee soul" I definitely am not.

I was born with a genetic disorder called Gauchers Disease, a fairly rare blood disorder caused by an enzyme deficiency. The condition is slowly progressive and so, as I aged, I have become more disabled.

Yet I've always believed I have been very lucky in life. I was lucky to have two loving parents to help me come to terms with my disability, especially through the years of teenage angst.

I was lucky to have a good education, both at school and university. I had wanted to be a teacher from the age of five and I was lucky that I fulfilled that dream.

Yes, it was a struggle to get trained as a teacher - not because of my constraints, but the struggle I had convincing the doctor at the College of Education in Aberdeen that someone with a physical disability could be a teacher at all.

And that's where attitudes like Glenn Hoddle's become so dangerous. There are people in society who have power over our lives, and if their views are based on prejudice or on a misunderstanding of the nature of disability, then they can do real damage to the life chances of a disabled person.

I have been lucky. When I've come up against the people who, very often unconsciously, have wished to discriminate against me, I have usually come out the winner. It doesn't half make you tenacious.

I have a confession to make. I am an optimist and always see the positive in any situation. In fact, I have never regarded my wheelchair as a "handicap" .

It is my liberator, the one piece of equipment that allows me to do all the things that I do. For you, it may be your glasses.

I couldn't ask for a more fulfilling, enjoyable and happy life. According to Glenn Hoddle's beliefs, does that mean that I must have been very good in some previous life and that my disability is my reward?

Age: 43

Disability: Gaucher's Disease, a rare blood disorder that has affected her from birth.

Achievements: University, teacher, elected MP for Aberdeen South in 1997.

George Ruddick, printer

GLENN HODDLE is a plonker if he believes people born with any disabilities deserve to be, because they were sinners in a previous life!

This ridiculous comment brings a flashback to when ex-TV presenter David Icke believed the Isle of Arran was going to blow up! Look where that landed him.

Hoddle could cause so much damage to so many. Think how new parents of a disabled child must feel. As if this is not hard enough, they have to listen to this nutcase.

For people like myself who have worked tirelessly to get the things we have, it's insulting to hear such nonsense from someone who should know better.

A lot of hard work goes into promoting the positive side of disability and the Sunday Mail are at the forefront with their Great Scot Awards, which I proudly won in its first year.

But all this work from the grassroots to the highest level could be reduced to tatters by Hoddle. I think every disabled person who can get up and shout "that's out of order" should!

I'm lucky. I've overcome my disability, I have a university degree and run my own print- ing firm. But what about the people who aren't able to overcome their disability or stand up and be counted? The Hoddles of this world would gladly walk all over them and toss them aside. But only if they got away with it!

Hoddle should remember we are all individuals - God forbid if we were all the same.

A minor achievement for one person may well be a major achievement for another. What difference does it matter if you have disabilities or not?

Hoddle should be ashamed of himself and deserves all the criticism he's going to get.

Previously, we've heard about all the goodness he's done for this disabled person or that disabled charity.

Now he's taken away any benefit he's given. People will say his Christian beliefs will carry him through this madness. He's going to need plenty of help!

He's scored an own goal this time and the English FA should look at his position as manager, instead of supporting him.

One final thought. If reincarnation exists, will he come back as a baboon?

Age: 34

Disability: Cerebral Palsy.

Achievements: University science degree. Runs his own successful printing firm in Ayrshire.

Lucie Howson, schoolgirl

WHEN I heard what Glenn Hoddle said about disabled people I was amazed.

My mum says that for a 12-year-old I know a lot of big words. But for once I'm left speechless.

I don't know too much about coming back as a different person. But I think if that's true, then there is no way I was bad.

I'm not bad. And I don't think I'm different from anyone else.

I found out I had Asberger's Syndrome when I was 10, and I asked my mum if there was a cure for it.

She told me that there wasn't one and said that, anyway, there was nothing wrong with me and that, if anything, I'm special.

Sometimes I can get a bit noisy, but I love people and like to let them know that.

I might only be 12, and have autism. But I go to a normal school, Hillpark Secondary in Glasgow.

I have got an incredible photographic memory, and can tell you about painters like Picasso and Goya. My dad's a painter and I suppose that might be where I got my interest in reading about them.

And if you ever go to London, I can tell you how to get about on the Tube. I've memorised every station.

If there was anything wrong with me there's no way I could do that.

At Guides, there are girls in wheelchairs, but I don't think they're bad people either.

None of my friends that are different are bad and I don't think Glenn Hoddle should be saying that they have been.

He's a grown-up person and should have kept these things inside him.

What he's saying will only upset people. If he was to come and speak to me, I'd tell him I don't feel different and that I'm good at school.

When I grow up I want the best job that I can get. Then I'll be really happy. Maybe I'll work with computers because I love playing games, especially mystery ones where I have to work out difficult clues.

I loved watching the World Cup last summer and wonder what the England player David Beckham will come back as in another life after he kicked a man and got sent off.

Glenn Hoddle should stick to talking about football.

Age: 12

Disability: Asberger's Syndrome, a form of autism.

Achievements: Has overcome her disability to achieve well beyond the norm for her age.

Keith Gardner, athlete

HODDLE has obviously never had a disabled person in his family, or he wouldn't have made those hurtful remarks.

I've had to work very hard to get where I am today.

If it wasn't for my parents pushing me, I would never have become an athlete.

They encouraged me to do everything my four brothers and sisters did.

I jumped down stairs like all of them, I learned how to skateboard and how to ride a bike.

Mum and dad were told I would never walk. But they decided that I would.

They made me walk. They'd walk me to church on Sunday even when I was screaming blue murder.

Our neighbours must have thought we were mad.

But they realise today it was all for my own good.

I really got into BMX biking, despite the fact I broke lots of bones.

Then I joined DISPORT, a club for disabled people in Coatbridge, where I played snooker and bowls.

Through the group, I met a trainer who specialised in athletics. Rodger Harkins took me on and I've never looked back.

Now the gym and the track is my whole life. I train up to six times a week and I've travelled all over the world to take part in competitions.

The biggest kick I got was when I won my first big medal, a silver for club throwing at the Barcelona Para Olympics in 1992. When I came home I promised mum and dad one day I'd win a gold. And I did.

I'm a member of the Great British Disabled Football team and have played in games all over the world.

So it's even more hurtful to hear Glenn Hoddle's words.

I love football. It doesn't matter if you're disabled, it's a great game.

I've got my family to thank for pushing me on.

They never treated me any differently and encouraged me to do everything able- bodied people can.

I just hope Glenn Hoddle never has children or grand- children with disabilities. Somehow, I don't think they'd get the same encouragement I got.

Age: 33

Disability: Cerebral Palsy and deafness.

Achievements: Won gold medal in World Paraplegic Championships in 1996 and is a world record-holder.

Margaret Grant, charity champ

I WANT to tell Glenn he's got it wrong. He's hurt a lot of people with those statements. They're cruel and cutting.

I've never been able to run free. That's a privilege that's been denied to me.

But I thank God for every single day of my life and I try to do the very best I can.

I count my blessings. If I hadn't been born Margaret Grant with brittle bone disease, maybe I would have been Margaret Grant, a Dundee weaver. Who knows? - but I certainly wouldn't be the person I am today.

My disability has never got me down because I don't know what it feels like to be what everyone else calls "normal".

My earliest memories are of my arms and legs in stookies, and that I was just shuffling around on my bum when all my friends were running around.

And I remember, as a wee girl, desperately wanting to tap-dance like my pals. My mum got me a pair of red tap shoes and I just tapped on the floor as best I could. Ginger Rogers had nothing to worry about, I can tell you.

But that felt like a big achievement for me, and I can honestly say there's nothing else in my life I've really yearned to do but can't.

The happiest and saddest time of my life was when I gave birth to my daughter, Yvonne, and discovered a year later she also had brittle bone disease.

I'd been assured that any children I had would not have it. But the doctors were wrong. I sometimes wonder what I'd have done knowing that I could pass it on. But then, maybe I wouldn't have had my wonderful daughter.

My proudest day was when I was presented with the MBE by the Queen in 1989. That was a real thrill. I accepted it on behalf of the Brittle Bone Society I'd started more than 30 years ago. I've never felt it was my own personal award.

I hope greater understanding will come in my lifetime. Today I still get people talking to my carer instead of directly to me... sometimes they even pat me on the head like a dog.

I wish the world would realise that we want to be integrated, not segregated.

But then, what will change when we've still got people like Glenn Hoddle?


Disabled: Brittle Bone Disease, which she has suffered from birth.

Achievements: Received MBE for launching the Brittle Bone Society.
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 31, 1999
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