Reversing the usual dynamic by which as modern personality is constructed, Derek achieved a remarkable about turn in his career and his image midway through his playing days.
A process begun at Peterborough accelerated at Leicester and completed at Wolves actually provided a rare example of a caricature turning into a genuine character.
Too many of Derek’s early energies had been spent in establishing a rebellious persona as a joker and wilful controversialist often to the detriment of his football before he found a mature balance between showmanship and soccer.
He’d been at Wembley with Blackburn in 1960, when he’d scored the two semi-final goals, then posted a transfer request on the morning of the Cup Final. His standing as a Northern Ireland regular seemed assured no matter what, but the trajectory of his striking career seemed permanently stalled when Aston Villa let him go to London Road, after he’d amused many with his propensity for off-field scrapes.
Perhaps a spell in the 3rd Division helped restore a sense of perspective, or perhaps a renewed burst of media interest in “The Doog” when Posh met Arsenal in the Cup rekinded ambitions. At any rate, Derek took a pay cut to join Leicester back in the top flight, and proceeded in justify Matt Gillies £25.000 gamble as he managed both to put the smile back on City’s game and to link with fellow newcomer Jackie Sinclair in a lethal finishing partnership.
Brilliant in the air and with a remarkable sure and subtle first touch for a tall striker, Derek led City’s forward line with unique flair, and lapped up the crowd’s adulation, not least on such occasions as when he knocked in a flamboyant hat trick against former club Aston Villa, or when he led a bemused close marker behind the goal while awaiting a City corner!
The Doog’s departure was the cause of much ill feeling between the club and it’s supporters, centred on the belief that City had merely cashed in on the first offer to doubly recoup their investement, and City fans were irked even more when Derek made an immediate impact at Molineux, where his goals ensured promotion within a couple of months.
Settling with Wolves for 310 senior games and 118 goals over almost eight years, Derek also won his only victor’s trophy, for the 1974 League Cup, a year before retirement. Eventually, he finished his career with 222 League goals and 43 Irish caps. An articulate chairman of the PFA, a stimulating author and easeful TV pundit, he surprised few when he later moved into management with Kettering, where he clashed with FA over shirt sponsorship before such became the norm, or even when he in 1982, led a consortium of businessmen in rescuing and reconstructing Wolves after they had fallen into receivership.
Later in life Derek Dougan he operated in different areas such as politics, charity work and continuing tv work. He died in 2007 at the age of 69. In 2010 he was inducted into Wolves Hall of fame.