TODAY his racy exploits and sordid notoriety would have catapulted him onto the front page of the tabloids and not just the back.

Gambler and womaniser John ‘Jack’ Reynolds was the darling of the terraces who carved a unique niche in football folklore by playing full international matches for two countries – initially five times under a false identity for Ireland and then a further eight times for England after it was discovered he had been born in Blackburn.

And his goal against Wales in 1893 made him the only player to have scored both for and against England, a feat that can never be repeated under modern regulations.

His ability – whether in defence, midfield and attack – naturally brought the Victorian legend to the attention of major football league clubs, becoming one of the highest-paid players of his generation as he butterflied from one club to another.

A one time member of the Lancashire Regiment, he was signed by West Bromwich and Aston Villa before moving on to Celtic.

However, he could not hold down a first team place there and mid-season in 1898 he suddenly moved to Southampton of the Southern League – not totally unknown territory as his elder brother, James, who represented the Netley-based Medical Staff Corps and won a Hants Junior Cup final with a 6-1 demolition of Southampton Reserves.

However, after just seven appearances, all as a wing half, he left to join Bristol Saint George in the Western League and then Royston in Yorkshire.

In 1902, however, he emigrated to New Zealand where he played for two sides but did not last long there either, returning to England to play for Stockport and finally for Willesden before retiring in 1905, never having made full use of his class and ability.

Off the pitch, Reynolds would have been a nightmare for any manager in today’s game.

He was a heavy gambler, drinker and reprobate, frittering his money away.

Because of his seedy reputation, team mates refused to play cards with him on train journeys, he was hospitalised three times with a sexual disease, and was known to have fathered at least one illegitimate child.

It was just after his short spell with Southampton that Reynolds was taken to court by a Birmingham woman who sued him for allegedly seducing her daughter.

Amazingly, the hearing at Birmingham Assizes was deemed to only merit a few lines on an inside page in the Hampshire Independent.

Sarah Byng let out several lodgings in Aston, and Reynolds went to live at one of her houses in 1896. However, the lothario soon charmed his way into the affections of her 18-year-old daughter, Margaret. Within weeks, she fell pregnant and gave birth to a son.

The judge heard an affiliation order was obtained against Reynolds for 5s for 14 years, a fact not contested in court, thereby sparing the teenager the ordeal of having to give evidence.

The only question therefore was for jurors to decide the level of what was described as “the loss of services” her mother had sustained.

“He has acted straightforwardly in the affair and an order has been obtained,” her barrister concurred. “There are various species of blackmail in this world, as those experienced in courts of laws are only too well aware.”

Jurors eventually returned a verdict for Byng and damages were assessed at £20.

On retirement, Reynolds became a coal miner in Sheffield where his past caught with him and he died aged just 48 from heart failure, his body apparently having lain in a lodging house for two days before discovery.

He was to be buried in an unmarked grave.