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International Wanderers: Stig Tøfting

Chris takes a look back at the career of full-time Phil Mitchell impersonator, Stig Tøfting

Tackle me and I'll 'ave ya
Tackle me and I'll 'ave ya
Stuart Franklin

Stig Tøfting was born in August 1969 in Aarhus, Denmark.

He began his professional career at ASA Aarhus before moving to local side AGF in 1989, making his professional debut in October 1989 in a 1-0 win against Aalborg. He would stay at AGF until 1993, winning the Danish Cup in 1992 and earning a call-up to the Danish National Team in January 1993.

At the end of the 1993 season, Tøfting signed for German Bundesliga side Hamburg for £500,000. He started well before injury struck just three games into his Hamburg career and which kept him out of the side for nearly three months. Over the next 12 months he was loaned back to Denmark to build his fitness, playing a dozen games for Odense before two loan spells back at AGF.

He moved back to AGF on a permanent deal in 1995, where he began to rebuild his career with 70 appearances over two seasons before moving to league rivals Odense when his contract expired. However, he would there fall out with manager Roald Poulsen, who tried to offload him to Brøndby however the move fell through. Tøfting instead returned to German football with Duisberg in January 1998.

The following summer saw Tøfting receive a 20 day suspended sentence for an assault whilst on holiday back in Aarhus, though manager Friedhelm Funkel kept faith with the midfield battler despite the charges over his head. Duisberg were relegated from the Bundesliga at the end of the 1999/2000 season and Tøfting moved back to Denmark, again on loan to AGF.

Upon the expiration of his Duisberg deal, Tøfting went back to Hamburg, and he appeared in the 2000/2001 UEFA Champions League for the club. However, he was soon on the move again when the manager who signed him, Frank Pagelsdorf, was fired and Tøfting saw no future for himself at the club under replacement Kurt Jara. He was then signed by Bolton Wanderers manager Sam Allardyce in February 2002 in an attempt to win a place in the Danish World Cup squad ahead of the summer tournament to be co-hosted by Japan and South Korea.

Tøfting started four consecutive games for Bolton until he was again hit by injury and lost his place in the side. He did however recover to play again for the club in the league and succeeded in winning a place in the Danish squad for the World Cup.

However, amidst celebrations among the Danish players following the 2002 FIFA World Cup, at "Café Ketchup" in Copenhagen, Tøfting assaulted the owner, head-butting him. He stood trial for the incident in October 2002 and was convicted to four months in jail.

Tøfting then returned injured to Bolton following the World Cup, and struggled to secure a place in the first team. His second season saw playing time reduced to just one league game and an appearance in a League Cup defeat to Bury. His last game for the club was an FA Cup defeat to Sunderland. After the conviction in Denmark, he got his Bolton contract reduced until summer 2003 and served his jail time from April to July of that year.

He was released early from prison in order to move to China to play for Tianjin Taida. When his contract expired in December 2003, he once again returned to AGF in. In July 2004, Tøfting was once more under charges for violence after he pushed a man in the chest following a traffic dispute. Then in December 2004, Tøfting was fired from AGF following a bust-up at an AGF players' Christmas lunch.

He then agreed a contract with Swedish club Häcken in February 2005, following which he moved back to Denmark to play for Randers FC in the second tier of Danish football.

With Randers, Tøfting won the 2006 Danish Cup, and he helped the club gain promotion to the Danish Superliga . Tøfting ended his playing career for Randers on 1 December 2007.

While playing for AGF Aarhus, Tøfting was among the players selected to represent the Danish under-21 national team at the 1992 Summer Olympics. He played full-time in Denmark's three matches at the tournament, though the team didn't advance beyond the group stage.

Tøfting made his Danish national team debut in January 1993, in a 2-2 friendly match draw with the United States, under coach Richard Møller Nielsen. He then took part in a 1994 FIFA World Cup qualification game in March 1993. He was included in Møller Nielsen's squad for the 1996 European Championship.

Tøfting was called up for his fourth international appearance in May 1998 by new manager Bo Johansson. He was once more part of a Denmark squad at a tournament, when he was picked for the 1998 World Cup where he again occupied the role as a bit-part player.. Following the World Cup, he became a mainstay in Johansson's team, only missing one game under Johansson in 1999 and 2000. He was picked for the Danish Euro 2000 team. This time he took part in all Denmark's matches, but the team was eliminated in the group stage, having conceded eight goals in three games.

When Morten Olsen was appointed new Denmark coach after Euro 2000, Tøfting kept his place in the Danish team. He only missed five games under Olsen up until his international retirement, and was included in the Danish squad for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Tøfting played in all Denmark's matches at the tournament. His last appearance for the Danish national team would be the 0-3 defeat to England in the first knock-out round, as he announced his international retirement following the match, having played a total 41 international games for Denmark.

In November 2006, Tøfting took on the role of assistant coach at Randers, working under Lars Olsen, while Tøfting continued his playing career. Tøfting continued as assistant coach when Randers appointed former Bolton Wanderers manager Colin Todd as head coach in the Summer 2007. When Randers appointed John Jensen as new manager in January 2009, Tøfting's contract was not renewed, and he left Randers in the Summer 2009.

In April 2010 he was named new assistant coach for Erik Rasmussen at AGF Aarhus.

At the end of the season that same year, Erik Rasmussen was sacked, due to the club being relegated. Tøfting left the club at the same time.

During the 2002 World Cup, a Danish gossip magazine ran a story that Tøfting, when aged 13, had returned home from school to find the bodies of his parents. His mother had been shot by his father, who shortly thereafter turned the gun on himself. The story had been kept secret for years, as Tøfting had not yet told his children.

Tøfting had a fearsome reputation within the game, and the story about his parents added more layers to the legend. This reputation was not helped by his continuous fraternising with the local Hell's Angel gang in the city of Aarhus, Denmark and his four month jail term for assault in 2002.

He would take this hard-man reputation into the boxing ring upon retirement, winning his one and only bout.