Hospitalised Dundee United legend Ralph Milne ‘critical’

Former Dundee United footballer Ralph Milne is said to be 'critical' condition. Picture: Dan Phillips
Former Dundee United footballer Ralph Milne is said to be 'critical' condition. Picture: Dan Phillips
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SCOTTISH football legend Ralph Milne is reportedly in a critical condition in hospital with a liver condition.

The 54-year-old helped Dundee United win their only Scottish Premier league title in the 80s before moving to Manchester United.

Ralph Milne playing for Dundee United in 1985. Picture: SNS

Ralph Milne playing for Dundee United in 1985. Picture: SNS

His career was curtailed by his battle with alcoholism and has been regularly treated for liver problems.

But now his condition has deteriorated and he is now in Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital in a serious condition.

Dundee United supporter Mike Barile, a former associate director at the club, posted the news on the Dundee United Legends Facebook page: “Very sad news spreading from Ninewells Hospital that Ralph Milne’s liver condition is becoming critical.

“Thoughts and prayers that he pulls through and recovers. Arab Legend in every sense.”

Speaking today, Mr Barile added: “He is not doing too well. He has been in and out of hospital but it seems things are now critical.

“It was always going to be a matter of time because of the damage he had done - something he has always been quite open about.

“I thought it might cheer him up to know that so many people are rooting for him.

“The fact is he was a local boy who went to Craigie High School, played for his team and scored a goal that helped clinch the championship at Dens.

“He even had a United tattoo on his leg and still went to games.

“Hopefully he pulls though but it is not looking good, although the staff at Ninewells are excellent.”

Speaking of his booze demons in 2013, Milne said: “When my professional playing career ended it hit me hard. When you are playing, you can improve your skills, get yourself fitter. But as it goes on, you realise that you can’t make yourself faster.

“When it ended, I started drinking more. There are times I can’t remember.”

Milne has twice appeared in court in recent years over alleged drunken attacks on his partner.

In 2013 an allegation that he battered partner Fiona Spence was dropped - while another charge dating from 2010 was also thrown out before trial.

Speaking after the last case was thrown out, Miss Spence, 35, said: “He will start drinking cider at 6.30 in the morning, go to bed drunk at 10am, get up again at 2pm and start drinking again.

“It just goes on like that.

“He buys me clothes and food. He takes me out and keeps me company. But then things can get bad very quickly. I still love him but it’s only a matter of time till one of us dies.”

Milne, who admitted to alcohol and gambling problems after quitting football, netted 21 times during the Arabs’ 1982-83 Scottish championship winning season.

He also scored 15 times during Dundee United’s European adventures during the 80s, which saw them reach the UEFA Cup final in 1987 and the Champions Cup semi-final in 1984.

Milne was a key figure in those successful sides - and was adored by Tannadice fans.

After leaving United he went on to play for Charlton Athletic and Bristol City, before Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson took him back to the big time with a £150,000 move to the English top-flight.

However, his time at Old Trafford was not a major success. Milne only managed three goals in 22 appearances in his first year at the club.

He was released on June 30 1991, marking the end of his professional career.

But he is fondly remembered by Dundee United fans - and was inducted into their hall of fame in 2009.

Former Tannadice boss Jim McLean once said of Milne: “If I had an outstanding failure then it was Ralph Milne.

“He should have been playing in World Cups. He should have won a bundle of Scotland international honours.

“It was a tragedy that that boy was not playing for his country all the time.

“He had tremendous talent - and I failed with him.

“He did not have the right attitude to the game and I could not instil that into him.”