Sir Alex Ferguson said of Dennis Wise: “He could start a fight in an empty house.”
It’s not hard to figure out, then, why TV chiefs would try to persuade him to go on bugs and bikinis reality show I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.
The former Millwall manager, who is not renowned for modelling swimwear, would be a natural in the high drama of trying to survive the Australian jungle – and boost ITV’s Christmas ratings.
The former England star and UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup victor, pictured above, managed Millwall for two seasons until May 2005, steering the Lions to the 2004 FA Cup final in his first campaign in the hotseat. He also led them in their first campaign in Europe, the UEFA Cup, where they were beaten in the first round by Hungarian champions Ferencvaros.
Wise is also famous among Den fans for picking up coins thrown by fans of rivals West Ham and handing them to home supporters during a 1-0 home victory in 2004 – he then gave a thumbs-up to the away fans. Wise joked at Brisbane Airport: “I’m visiting relatives. I’ve been to Australia before, but it was many years ago. I’m looking forward to getting a tan.”
ITV chiefs hope the 5ft 5in star, famed for his no-nonsense tackling, will add a fiery spark to this year’s series once it starts on Sunday.
The combative central midfielder, raised in Shepherd’s Bush, started his career at Southampton before moving to Wimbledon where he played alongside another football hard man, Vinnie Jones. His playing career highlights at Chelsea, for 11 years until 2001, included two FA Cups and a League Cup – making him the club’s most successful captain at the time. He also earned 21 caps for England over 10 years.
Other stars rumoured to be taking on the infamous Bushtucker Trials this year include former Geordie Shore star Charlotte Crosby, Coronation Street’s Jenny McAlpine and former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls.