I’m A Celebrity winner Phil Tufnell on why he has one of the weirdest nicknames in sport

I’m A Celebrity winner Phil Tufnell on why he has one of the weirdest nicknames in sport


Some of his antics would fit better in a rock ‘n’ roll star’s confessional than in the tour diary of an Indian cricketer.

The time he pushed a grand piano down the stairs of an opulent hotel, or the occasion when spending the night in bed with four strawberry blondes nearly forfeited an opportunity to play.

Phil Tufnell gained notoriety as the Cat for his knack for locating a peaceful area in changing rooms all over the world to unwind from the excesses of the previous evening. But at the age of 57, this Cat has outlived his wild days.

He says, “I still like a drink.” “I’ve never had to completely give up drinking because of a problem.” Simply put, I’ve always liked how social it was. I still share a few pints of wine with my friends and eat Sunday lunch. I’ll drink to unwind, not to get wasted because I can no longer handle hangovers.

These days, Phil, who is wed to Dawn Brown, his third wife, finds the challenge of solving the puzzle on TV’s Countdown thrilling enough. Ellie, 33, with ex-girlfriend Jane McEvoy, and Poppy, 26, with his second wife Lisa Bar, are his two daughters.

He won I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, a reality TV star, after retiring in 2003. in 2003 and a 2009 appearance on Strictly Come Dancing. Every summer, he joins BBC Test Match Special as a pundit and served as team captain on They Think It’s All Over and A Question of Sport.

Tufnell with wife Dawn Brown
Dawn Brown and Tufnell’s wife (Getty Images Europe)

Phil was better known for his cheeky chappy exterior than his match-winning prowess, even during the peak of his career, when he played 42 Tests for England as a left-arm spin bowler. It all broke down at times. He trashed his hotel room while on the Ashes tour of Australia in 1994–1995, and as a result, he spent time in Perth’s psychiatric facility.

He says, “It felt like a few bad things all at once,” as he describes that evening. My home life wasn’t where it ought to be. On the field, I wasn’t performing well. After some time, the pressure became too much for me.

Phil is pleased that players’ mental health is now being taken more seriously because cricket has one of the highest suicide rates in sports.

Every minute of every day, he claims, “people are under pressure, you’re playing at the top of your tree, and there’s microscopic attention on what you do.” You’re not playing well or things aren’t going well for you all the time. I was a little shaky, but I overcame it.

“Back then, people would simply say, “Come on, young man, just get on with it.” Thankfully, things have changed. People are now more understanding, and those times have changed. It was necessary to address the problem of mental health in sports. I believe it frequently occurs in sports: after reaching the peak of your tree, it suddenly disappears, forcing you to reorient yourself. It was happening far too frequently, and I’m glad it’s now being discussed. Many people have suffered.

Playing against India in 1993
1993 matchup with India (Popperfoto via Getty Images)
New book by Tufnell
New book by Tufnell

Soon after, Phil left the ward and came back to the group. He gives credit to his cricketing teammates for assisting him in regaining his composure. With the aid of my team members, I was able to get myself back together, he claims. At England, I was quickly reintegrated into the group. And I assured myself that I wouldn’t worry about it. I’m going to take pleasure in my work. That made me feel better about myself.

“It can be very challenging at times. You are weighed down by it. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have survived. I’ve been able to get by and have developed my own little coping skills.

There are also a ton more resources available to sort of get you through those difficult times.

The Tourist, a new book by Phil—often referred to as Tuffers—describes his life and travels around the world over the course of his first-class career, which started in Middlesex in 1986.

He talks about spending many nights out and spending years sleeping on floors and people’s couches. He was given his nickname for sleeping, but Angus Fraser, a teammate for Middlesex and England, said he couldn’t be an actual cat because “Phil has more than nine lives.”

I’ve definitely used a few up, Phil chuckles. My mother used to tell me to keep a smile on your face for as long as you can, but he won’t go into detail about how. because you’ll never be able to smile all the time. I simply try to have fun, enjoy myself, and enjoy people.

Since quitting his professional sporting career in 2003 to become King of the Jungle, he has lived by that adage. Phil remembers being anxious about first-time encounters with his campmates.

He says, “Each time, I was a little anxious, but I’m quite fortunate that I used to being around lots of people and having that dressing room camaraderie because I play cricket.” I simply used it as my dressing room.

With Matt Dawson and Sue Barker
(BBC/Vishal Sharma) Matt Dawson and Sue Barker

A nation was charmed by Tuffers, not to mention Linda Barker, a campmate. She would “defy any woman not to fall for the twinkle in his eye,” the Changing Room performer declared. A Question of Sport, which he joined in 2007, was the next sport to follow the jungle. But when the BBC announced in 2020 that they were looking to change the program’s direction, Phil, along with fellow captain Matt Dawson and host Sue Barker, were saddened to lose their jobs.

He continues to regularly see Sue and Matt. He says, “We go out to lunch or dinner.” We have a strong friendship. We three went on a successful theater tour together. Who knows, we might repeat that behavior.

While he handled himself well in the jungle, it was a very different experience on the ballroom floor. In the meantime, the man put on his dancing shoes to participate in Strictly.

Phil remembers how, when dancing in front of millions of people, he and fellow contestant Zoe Lucker would alternate between being giddy with excitement and crying. I can still feel the terror, and Zoe and I both experienced it, but Phil asks, “How could you not be scared?” It’s an anxious experience. These actors and actresses from my series were passing out backstage. to perform the Paso Doble outside while wearing a pink shirt encrusted with rhinestones and tight pants… You just need to go out there and give it your all, I had to tell myself.

When Dawn, whom he married in 2005, needed a hip replacement and left the Cat to fend for himself earlier this year, the man had to put these words into practice. Phil chuckles as he remembers, “I had to find out what a dark wash is.” I had to learn a variety of things, including cleaning and shopping, which isn’t as simple as it seems, because she was out of commission for quite some time.

It turns out that you can teach a dog—or at least an old cat—new tricks.

  • The Traveler: Up until this point, what occurs on a tour stays on tour! is currently priced at £10.99.

Source: Mirror


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