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offiah

Martin Offiah

Martin "Chariots" Offiah MBE (born 29 December, 1966 in London, England) is a British former rugby league and, briefly, rugby union footballer.

He is also known as 'Chariots' Offiah after the film 'Chariots of Fire',when playing in Australia he was also known as 'Great Balls' although (contrary to widespread popular belief) the correct pronunciation of his surname is 'Offier' – with the stress on the first syllable.

A Londoner, he attended Woolverstone Hall school near Ipswich, Suffolk, where he played rugby and cricket. He turned out for Essex 2nd XI but soon realised his main talent was for rugby. At club level, he first played rugby union for Rosslyn Park and after starring on the Sevens circuit and for the Barbarians, there was talk of an England future. He was spotted by Widnes coach Doug Laughton playing in the Middlesex Sevens and was "brought North" to play Rugby League for the 1987-88 season.. It was at Widnes were he forged his reputation as a devastating winger scorching in for 181 tries in 145 games. Alex Murphy had been interested in acquiring Offiah from rugby union, but the board of directors at St. Helens infamously referred to Offiah as an ‘uncoordinated clown’ and the interest was not followed up with action.

Offiah joined Wigan in January 1992 for a fee of £440,000. This figure remained a record for a total cash transfer until Wigan beat their own record, paying £450,000 for Stuart Fielden from the Bradford Bulls in 2006. Playing on the wing, he formed a devastating partnership with Gene Miles in his first season at Wigan scoring 30 tries in just 15 games including a club record ten in a match against Leeds in the Premiership semi final. Martin became a real showman and character of the game, often infuriating opponents when he raced past them waving goodbye, goose stepping when clear or nodding in celebration with team-mate Shaun Edwards.

He had great hands and an eye for a try, often making interceptions then racing the length of the field to score. Martin received criticism over his defensive game, but such was the dominance of the Wigan during this period, that he was rarely required to defend.

He played in Wigan's World Club Challenge win over the Brisbane Broncos in 1994, four Challenge Cup wins, five Championship teams, three Regal Trophy wins and one Lancashire Cup victory. He twice won the Lance Todd Trophy at Wembley. His 90 metre solo try in the 1994 Challenge Cup Final win over Leeds is remembered as one of the finest ever but he made a habit of such runs during his career.

Offiah made a total of 158 appearances for Wigan with another single appearance as a substitute. He notched up more than a try a game, crossing the line 186 times. He also managed a goal and 3 drop goals thus bagging a grand total of 749 points for the club.

A biography by David Lawrenson entitled Offiah: A Blaze of Glory was published in 1993. Then In 1995 Martin Offiah's life story, a 30 minute documentary was produced and directed by Pogus Caesar for Carlton TV UK as part of the Respect (TV series).

When the game made the switch to summer rugby in 1996, Martin played in only ten games before moving to the London Broncos. He was awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours 1997 and also played for London in their 1999 Challenge Cup final defeat to Leeds.

Offiah has posed nude in the women's magazines For Women and Cosmopolitan.

In 2004 Offiah was one of the celebrities taking part in the first series of the BBC's successful show Strictly Come Dancing, reaching fourth place with his partner Erin Boag. In 2005 alongside Natasha Kaplinsky, he hosted the one-off special, Strictly African Dancing.

Martin attended the 2006 Challenge Cup final between St. Helens and Huddersfield at Twickenham as special guest of the Rugby Football League (RFL).

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