The South Yorkshire football legend who died in horror road smash that nearly claimed life of I’m A Celebrity’s Harry Redknapp

Harry Redknapp survived the horror road smash which claimed the life of his friend Brian Tiler
Harry Redknapp survived the horror road smash which claimed the life of his friend Brian Tiler

He’s won the hearts of the nation in TV’s I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! but football boss Harry Redknapp nearly died in a horror smash which claimed the life of a South Yorkshire football legend.

Redknapp and his footballing pal Brian Tiler were travelling in a mini bus when they were involved in a deadly head-on collision with a car in Italy nearly 30 years ago.

Brian Tiler played more than 200 games for Rotherham.

Brian Tiler played more than 200 games for Rotherham.

And while Redknapp was badly injured and went on to to make a full recovery, the horror smash claimed the life of one of his best friends Brian, who played more than 200 games for Rotherham United during the 1960s.

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Born in Rotherham in 1943, Brian joined his home town club in 1962 and the central defender spent seven seasons at Millmoor.

During his time there, he found the net 27 times in 213 games before moving onto Aston Villa in December 1968.

At Villa, he had the misfortune of being a member of the side that were relegated to the Third Division for the first and only time in the club's history in 1969–70.

However, he was also a member of the Villa side that won promotion two years later.

In October 1972, he was transferred to Carlisle United, where he finished his Football League career.

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In 1974, he was appointed player manager of non league Wigan Athletic, where he spent two years, and won the Northern Premier League in 1974–75 and played eleven league games for the Latics before leaving the club in 1976.

He would later return to Springfield Park as the coach of the Zambia national team, who Wigan played a friendly against in October 1978.

He then moved to America to join the Portland Timbers, originally as a player before joining the coaching staff. 

In 1980, he became assistant manager to Ron Newman at the Miami Americans in the franchise's only year of existence.

After nine games, Newman quit to take over as coach at the San Diego Sockers, and Brian stepped up to become head coach until the team's demise at the end of the season.

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He later became managing director at AFC Bournemouth, where he helped engineer Bournemouth's first ever promotion to the Second Division in 1986–87 along with his friend, team manager Harry Redknapp.

The pair become firm friends – and were together when Brian’s life was tragically cut short in 1990.

The duo were in Italy for that summer’s World Cup and tragedy struck on June 30 when Brian died at the age of 47 in the horror smash.

The smash killed four people - including Brian and Harry revealed details of the tragedy in his autobiography.

The group had travelled to the Italia 90 World Cup together and their minibus collided with a car in Latina, just south of Rome, killing four young Italians and Brian.

Harry said: "A car hurtled towards us on the wrong side of the road.

"I'm told it was going 90 miles per hour. I'm told the smash was so horrific that it was a miracle anyone got out alive. Brian didn't. Nor did the occupants of the other car, three Italian lads who all died instantly.

"The force of the impact threw me out of the minibus and knocked me unconscious. I was then dragged away from the mangled wreckage, covered in petrol, by Michael Sinclair, who was petrified by the thought that it would all explode."

He added: "I woke up in hospital with terrible injuries."

Harry, who previously said it was never confirmed if the driver of the other car had been drinking, was asleep when the crash happened.

He continued: "The first thing I remember was waking up in hospital two days later, unaware of the extent of my injuries, and unaware that Brian had died.

"The emergency services at the scene of the crash had apparently thought I was a goner and pulled a blanket over my head. Even my watch had gone, someone clearly believing I wouldn't be needing it. Everything of value had gone.

"The doctors, I'm told, also thought I was dead upon arrival at the hospital. But I was lucky. I had fractured my skull, broken several bones, and suffered a horrific gash to my leg, but I don't think the injuries, though serious, were ever life-threatening, despite those first impressions."

The crash left him without a sense of smell – something that the football boss has referred to in the I’m A Celebrity camp, volunteering to clean the dunny because the smell doesn’t bother him.