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Gers in mourning after the death of hero Caldow (84)

 

Sad loss: Eric Caldow, who has passed away aged 84, during his Rangers heydey
Sad loss: Eric Caldow, who has passed away aged 84, during his Rangers heydey
Eric Caldow

By Gavin McCafferty

Eric Caldow's international career came to a premature end on the day Scotland recorded one of their finest victories, but the full-back was not the type to lament the cruel turning point of a glorious football journey.

The former Rangers and Scotland captain, who has died at the age of 84, struggled to regain his form and fitness after a tackle from England's Bobby Smith broke his leg in three places early in the annual Auld Enemy fixture at Wembley in 1963.

In the days before substitutes, 10-man Scotland went on to beat their hosts 2-1 with the help of an inspired performance from Caldow's Ibrox team-mate Jim Baxter, who scored both goals.

Caldow would never play for his country again but his 40-cap total was among the highest of his generation, when international games were less frequent.

He also amassed more than 400 games for Rangers and was the first man to captain a British team in a European final.

Speaking in 2007, after being inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame, Caldow said: "It was the only time I captained the winning side against England and I was only on the park six minutes, so I think I must have strengthened the team going off.

"I was 28, that was my 40th cap. But I could have had my leg broken at 16, 17. I had a wonderful career."

Caldow was born in Cumnock, Ayrshire, on May 14, 1934, and his association with Rangers began when he was only 14-years-old.

Gers manager Bill Struth deemed him ready to make his debut aged 19 in a League Cup win over Ayr in September 1953 and he became a regular at right-back by the 1955-56 season, helping Rangers win the league. The next season he starred at left-back as they retained the title.

Caldow won his first Scotland cap in a 2-1 defeat by England at Wembley in May 1957 but his home debut proved more memorable - a 4-2 World Cup qualifying win over a Spain side featuring the likes of Alfredo di Stefano at Hampden.

The defender skippered Rangers to the European Cup Winners' Cup final in 1961, when they beat Ferencvaros, Borussia Monchengladbach and Wolves on the way to a 4-1 aggregate defeat by Fiorentina over two legs.

Caldow scored against both England and Wales as Scotland won the British Home Championship in 1962, and had just won his fifth and final Scottish league medal when he was carried off at Wembley in 1963 at the peak of his career.

He would only play three games the following season, when Rangers won the treble, although he was back in their defence for 26 games in 1964-65, helping his team to an Old Firm League Cup final triumph.

However, he only played three matches the following campaign before his Ibrox career ended at the age of 32.

Caldow was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2010.

He is survived by his daughter, Jackie. His son, also Eric, died in a road accident in 2000 and his wife Laura died in 2013.

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