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Stan Bowles, international player and star of Queens Park Rangers (1974)

Photo: PA Photos / AP

One of the most colorful words in the English language is “Maverick”.

It can be translated as “loner” or as “outsider”.

But you can also interpret it as a “free spirit”.

Originally it stood for a piece of cattle that bore no brand.

It is the word most often used to describe footballer Stan Bowles.

He was “The Maverick Number 10.”

Stan Bowles, who died on Saturday at the age of 75, combined the characteristics of a Maverick.

He was an outsider, an individualist, an entertainer.

He was definitely a free spirit.

If you want to boldly compare a football team to a herd, then it was true: You couldn't brand this Stan Bowles.

He couldn't be classified anywhere.

The opposite of a model professional

Alcohol, womanizing, gambling: Bowles was the opposite of a model professional.

The 1970s were a time of eccentricities in British football.

Here you found guys who didn't want to and couldn't fit into the grid, who went overboard and brought their clubs to the brink of despair.

A rock 'n' roll life that some of them eventually lost control of.

A career that was always a battle against itself.

George Best, the great Northern Irishman, was the most famous of them, but by no means the only one: Rodney Marsh, known as “The Clown Prince,” was one of them, and Stan Bowles.

The legendary sentence from Best has come down to us: "I spent a lot of money on alcohol, women and fast cars, and I simply squandered the rest." When Bowles was accused in public of not caring enough about his career and instead of Spending a lot of money on women and gambling, he said: "At least I didn't waste the money." Well, at least I didn't waste it.

Always trouble

That didn't help his career.

He repeatedly got into trouble with his clubs because of a lack of discipline.

At Manchester City, his first professional position, he was thrown out after a fight with the assistant coach in a pub at night.

Bowles moved to the fourth English league, where he was of course completely overqualified with his talent.

Even at school, a teacher took him aside and told little Stan: "If nothing happens, you'll become a professional soccer player."

Bowles grew up as the son of a window cleaner. He left school early, earned his money as a teenager in a company that manufactured raincoats, and later in his father's cleaning crew.

Until Man City, recognizing his talent, gave him his first professional contract.

Bowles made a fresh start at fourth division team Crewe Alexandra; he was so superior to his opponents that scouts from the first division took notice of him again.

His path led to Queens Park Rangers via second division club Carlisle United.

The club that made him happy.

The club he made happy.

Best time at QPR

Bowles played seven years for QPR from 1972 to 1979, including perhaps the best years the team ever enjoyed at Loftus Road.

At the Rangers, Bowles had complete freedom.

The club management knew that he had to be taken as he was.

You would sometimes see him in the betting shop 20 minutes before the game started, and you could meet him in the pub an hour after the final whistle.

But in the 90 minutes of playing time in between, Bowles revealed his full quality as a footballer.

He became “Stan the Man.”

The Guardian wrote in its obituary about Bowles that he was “a player with breathtaking speed and feel for the ball,” one who “decided a game with one movement.”

With him as their leader, Queens Park Rangers, that ugly duckling of the English league, were suddenly competing for the championship.

In 1976 they were just one point shy of the title.

On the pitch, the unpredictability benefited him; off the pitch, the unpredictability turned chaotic.

When Bowles married, his father had to pay the registry office fees because Bowles had bet all his money.

At times, the club transferred his salary directly to his wife's account so that Bowles had no access to it in the first place.

Leafing through a magazine in the game

Betting on horses and dogs was his addiction.

There is a famous picture of him.

It shows him during a league game, leaning against the post, waiting for the opposing team to take the corner kick.

He is provocatively leafing through a betting magazine.

Bowles played 255 league games for Queens Park Rangers and scored 70 goals.

He was loved by the fans as he drove the ball across the field in front of him, his long hair blowing in the wind.

To this day he is an idol.

The later national coach Terry Venables, who was Bowles' team-mate at the time, saw him on a par with Kenny Dalglish, probably the greatest British footballer of the late 1970s.

Former international striker and BBC icon Gary Lineker called him a “delightful footballer and a highly charismatic person”.

When Hamburger SV was looking for reinforcements on the island, they initially found Stan Bowles.

But Queens Park wouldn't let him go, so HSV reoriented itself and signed Kevin Keegan instead.

Only five international matches

It is hard to understand today that he only played five international matches for England.

Apart from his only goal against Wales, the only thing that is remembered from his international playing time was the appearance against the Netherlands.

Bowles appeared in two different shoes because he lost track of the advertising deals and signed contracts with two suppliers at the same time.

At the end of the 1970s, Queens Park went downhill just as quickly as it had gone up.

From title contender to relegation within four years, Bowles had also passed his peak.

He left his heartfelt club in discord.

New team manager Tommy Docherty had told him, "You can trust me, Stan." To which Bowles replied that he would rather trust his chickens to Kentucky Fried Chicken.

That's it.

Bowles tried again with a move to Nottingham Forest, but with the tough coach Brian Clough, who didn't accept any quirks, things went wrong from day one.

At the first training session, Clough bluffed his approach: "Who are you anyway, just say your name."

There was no blessing on it.

There were a few more positions in the 2nd and 3rd divisions, finally at Brentford FC. Bowles retired at the age of 35.

Years later Queens Park Rangers organized an exhibition match against Brentford.

The club used the proceeds from the game to raise money to pay off the gambling debts of its ex-professional Stan Bowles, which he had accumulated after his career.

In old age, Bowles developed Alzheimer's disease.

After years of suffering, he died on Saturday.

They'll never forget him on Loftus Road anyway.

There is a stand in the stadium named after “Stan the Man”.

The Stan Bowles Stand.