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The Scotland star who finally blew the whistle.

THE hair was receding and the waistline bulging but there was no mistaking the figure in the witness box at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

For 12 years, Alan Brazil was one of Britain's top footballers playing for Scotland, Ipswich Town, Spurs, Manchester United and QPR.

Nowadays he is best known as a TV soccer pundit.

Last week, the 39-year-old returned to his native Glasgow to quizzical glances from men and women who knew the face but couldn't remember the name.

This time his stage was not Hampden Park but Court 7 at the Sheriff Court.

And his opponent was not a tough centre-half but advocate Alan Nicol, who was doing his best to trip him up.

Nicol was defending 51-year-old Jim Torbett, founder of Celtic Boys' Club and the man Brazil claims prevented him from realising his dream of playing for Celtic.

In his last season with the Boys' Club, the teenage Brazil netted a Scottish amateur record of 62 goals but he never got the call from Celtic Park so he went south to Ipswich.

He says he was denied his dream because of an incident when Torbett molested him.

He told the hushed court that when he was 13, he went with five other boys to Torbett's Glasgow flat after a match.

Brazil said he knew something was wrong when he saw a lot of hugging and kissing going on among Torbett and the boys. But what came next appalled him.

He said: "He (Torbett) sat next to me on a sofa and squeezed my hands. He put his hand between my legs and touched me on my penis on the outside of my grey club slacks. He started playing with me.

"I felt shocked and numb. I did not know what to do."

The incident lasted between 20 and 30 seconds and he didn't tell his parents but he stopped going on trips to avoid being with Torbett. Despite his goals prowess, he was never called to the senior club.

And, as his playing career blossomed, he kept silent on the incident in 1974. As Brazil related it to a court filled with a sheriff, court officials, policemen, lawyers, jurors, press and members of the public, Torbett stared straight at him.

But, unperturbed throughout his grilling, Brazil stood in front of the microphone as if he was commentating at a match.

His rat-a-tat answers denied Nicol any chance to dominate the match.

Eventually, he chose to tell all when the Daily Record exposed Torbett as a pervert in August 1996. Before coming forward, he talked it over with his wife and three daughters. They agreed he should speak up.

No one will ever know if that incident denied Celtic the chance to sign one of the best strikers of the 1980s.

But one thing is certain - Alan Brazil had his day in court and helped bring a pervert to justice.
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 13, 1998
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