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Derby County star Jeff Bourne - Factfile

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: August 02, 2014

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JEFF Bourne famously moved from Burton FA side Linton United to the Rams first team and European football in the early 1970s.

After leaving the Baseball Ground, he went on to score goals in spells with Dallas, Atlanta and Seattle in the former North American Soccer League (NASL) between 1976 and 1981.

The NASL attracted global superstars such as Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff and George Best, along with scores of British professionals, but found attempts to persuade Americans to fall in love with the "beautiful game" ahead of gridiron, baseball and basketball were eventually doomed to failure. The league eventually folded in the mid-1980s.

Jeff boasted the quickest league hat-trick in American soccer history, scoring three times in four minutes, 24 seconds for Dallas against New York Cosmos, and also the quickest double strike, with two goals just 41 seconds apart.

In one match against Los Angeles in Dallas, conditions were particularly difficult — the game, which kicked off at 7.30pm, was played in 42C (108F) heat.

However, Jeff's most unusual experience came in San Jose, after a giant bear had been brought onto the pitch pre-match to perform tricks and entertain the crowd.

The beast was eventually tethered behind the goal after it refused to budge.

After attempting a diving header, Jeff slid along the turf to come within inches of the bear's snarling teeth and slashing paws, but managed to escape without injury.

A knee injury eventually forced the ex-Rams, Crystal Palace and Sheffield United man to turn his hand to the USA's indoor professional six-a-side league, where he found the net a remarkable 148 times in 144 appearances.

He also spent time at Gresley Rovers, turning out for the reserve team.

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