Maurice Ross opens up on Notts County incident as former Scotland and Rangers defender apologises to player

Former Scotland and Rangers defender Maurice Ross has opened up about the incident that led to him resigning from Notts County.

Maurice Ross pictured during his spell as a coach with Motherwell

The 40-year-old, who only joined the English National League side as assistant manager in March, left the club earlier this week after a player complained about a racially insensitive comment during a match.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound programme Ross described his remark as a “clumsy, throwaway comment”.

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Ross explained: “During our game on Saturday I made reference to Enzio [Boldewijn], who's typically a quick player, and I said that he was moving around the pitch like a 40-year-old.

"The exact words I used were, 'He looks like he's moving like a 40-year-old – what age is he actually, does he have a doctored African passport?'”

Ross was likely making reference to age fraud in football. One of the most well-known cases concerned Cameroonian internationalist Tobie Mimboe, who had falsified documents claiming he was younger than his actual age when he signed for Turkish side Genclerbirligi in 1997 and again when he participated in the 1998 African Cup of Nations.

Ross continued: “It was clearly a reference to his mobility because he is normally a quick player. I had no other intentions.

"It was a clumsy and insensitive analogy and if I could take it back, I would.

"I feel sad that I've made a lovely guy feel bad about himself, and that’s where my pain lies at the moment.

“My job as a football coach is making people better. Interpersonal skills is where I’m great. It was just so clumsy and I regret it, from the bottom of my heart.”

Ross revealed he hadn’t had a chance to speak with Boldewijn directly and that was part of his reason for speaking to the BBC.

He continued: "I’m not looking for sympathy. My intentions were never to insult anyone. It’s clumsy; a throwaway comment that’s unacceptable.”

Ross confirmed he was alerted to the complaint by manager Ian Burchnall when he drove back down to Nottingham at the start of the week.

“That was when I thought, ‘Oh my God, what have I done?’ It just goes to show that you can be unaware of something but you have to be so careful about the language you use when dealing with young footballers. You can shape their career, good and bad."

Ross insists that he resigned, rather than being dismissed.

"The manager told me the player was really upset and I said to him I felt I had to resign.

"I should be propelling people, educating them, making them better. I had to [resign] and I did it instantly.

"I’ve got foreign children; I’ve lived in Asia and Turkey and integrated well with other cultures. I’ve let myself down by making a flippant comment that’s had such a damaging impact on another human being. I just feel really bad about it.”

Ross, added: "I hope that in the five weeks I was there [Boldewijn] saw I’m a decent man; that I tried to help him as a footballer.

"I really hope he can forgive the comment. It certainly isn’t a true reflection of me as a human being or coach.

“I’m here to apologise to Enzio who’s a cracking footballer, a cracking lad, and I can only say sorry.”

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