Keith Curle: Without mum's support, I would never have been a top footballer
A BRISTOL footballing legend has paid tribute to his mother whom he says made his dream a reality.
Between 1981 and 1987 Keith Curle played 32 times for Bristol Rovers and 121 games for Bristol City.
In August 1991 he became the most expensive defender for that era when he was sold by Wimbledon to Manchester City for £2.5 million, earning three England caps in 1992.
Mr Curle says it was the dedication of his mother Frances, who died at Frenchay Hospital on December 29 aged 80, that meant he was able to pursue a career in football.
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Mrs Gregory, known as Wyn, moved to Bristol in 1958 after her first husband got a job with Bristol Aerospace.
The family first lived in Little Stoke before moving to Montpelier and then Hotwells. After a short time living in Switzerland the family returned to Bristol to live in Downend where Mrs Gregory was manager of Gateway in Quakers Road.
Mrs Gregory, who later moved to Pucklechurch, leaves behind second husband Terry, sons Paul, Tim and Keith, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Mr Curle, who currently manages football club Notts County in League One said: "I owe everything to her. She did everything she could to help me follow the dreams and aspirations.
"She had to re-learn to drive just so she could ferry me to training and games and would stand on the touchline supporting me. There was no lie-in for mum on a Sunday.
"She just always encouraged me to do anything I wanted."
His eldest brother Paul added: "Mum had a wonderful sense of humour and loved to have a laugh. She was very supportive of all of us and will be greatly missed."
Although released by Bristol City aged 16 Mr Curle, who attended Oldbury Court Junior School, was snapped up after scoring seven goals for Bristol Rovers in a trial match.
Within a year he had made a goal-scoring debut as a right wing for Rovers against Chester.
In 1984 he returned to Bristol City after a brief spell with Torquay United and converted to a defender.
After spells with Reading and Wimbledon he made headlines when Manchester City signed him for a then record £2.5 million transfer fee for a defender.
After five seasons with the club, which he captained, he played for Wolverhampton Wanderers, Sheffield United and Barnsley before finishing his career at Mansfield Town.
He added: " I was let go by Bristol City but thanks to Terry Cooper and Clive Middlemass was given a trial at Bristol Rovers. Although I was 16 the only match they could take a look at me was an U15 game and I scored seven goals. I was automatically offered a contract and within a year I played in a goal-scoring debut.
"When I later moved to Bristol City they had a centre back suspended because he was sent off in the last game of the previous season so I had to move into his position. I played the first game at centre back and the rest is history – And they say there is no luck in football."
Mrs Gregory's husband of 34 years, Terry, said: "She was a terrific mum and thought the world of the boys. She was a wonderful person who will be missed."
The funeral is at Westerleigh Crematorium at 1pm tomorrow. Family flowers only, donations to the British Lung Foundation..