AN old fashioned striker making his way in a rapidly changing world of football, Steve Livingstone would have plenty of reason for complaint for a career sent straight from the school of hard knocks.

From being the victim of circumstance, to suffering inexcusable disloyalty, to life-threatening injury, Livingstone’s 18-year career certainly had its fair share of lows – on top of those 77 net-busting highs that often made him a crowd favourite.

But as the 39-year-old reflects on an eventful career, now involved in the property game back in his home town of Middlesbrough, Living-stone insists he has only ever had one regret and that was missing out on the Ewood Park glory days of the mid 1990’s.

The burly target man was brought to East Lancashire from Coventry in January 1991 for £450,000, as he and Tony Dobson were signed by Don Mackay to mark the very start of the ‘Jack Walker revolution’.

Seven goals in his first 10 games for Rovers helped stave of relegation to the old Third Division but that was as good as it got, as he got left behind in their rise to Premier League success.

Kenny Dalglish’s appointment as manager and the subsequent arrival of a plethora of top stars, left Livingstone kicking his heels in the reserves and desperate for a way out for regular football.

Chelsea granted him his wish in 1993, signing him in a deal that included Graeme Le Saux going the other way, but by the time Rovers were lifting the Premier League trophy, Livingstone was plying his trade back at the wrong end for Championship for Grimsby.

“I know how fortunate I was to have such a good career,” he said. “There were probably far better players than me who did not play to the level I did. But I suppose that was my only regret.

“Looking back now, leaving Blackburn and joining Chelsea was the wrong option. I should have stayed and battled it out for a place. Playing with better players would have improved me and who knows what would have happened?

“Maybe I could have stayed at the club and had some involvement in what was to follow, times that have gone down in the club’s history. Moving to Chelsea was just the wrong thing for me.

“I remember at the time though, I went to see Kenny Dalglish and he said he could not guarantee me regular football. I then asked for a move and that night he rang me saying Chelsea wanted me.”

To say the former Coventry trainee’s switch to Stamford Bridge did not work out would be an understatement, as after just 20 minutes of senior action for Chelsea, he was offloaded to Championship Grimsby for £140,000.

While at first glance the move appeared a spectacular failure, Livingstone insists he was just the victim of circumstance - not for the first time in his career.

He said: “Dave Webb was the caretaker manager at the time and he was 100 per cent he would get the job full time in the summer. I went there with a suspension but he said the next season we would have a real go at it.

“Then suddenly Glenn Hoddle was given the job and that was it for me. He never even spoke to me, just turned up to his first day in charge called my name to train with the reserves and I didn’t get a chance again.

“I only played 20 minutes of first team football for them, but I just suppose it was the wrong place at the wrong time. Story of my life.”

An instant hit at Blundell Park, ‘Livvo’ earned cult-hero status in his 10 years at the club as his honesty and workmanlike performances endeared him to the terraces.

His last four years with the Mariners were wrecked by injury though, including a horrific clash with Derby’s Danny Higginbotham that left him with a broken skull, and after nine appearances for Carlisle, he quit the game in 2004.

“The way it ended for me at Grimsby left a sour taste in the mouth”, he said. “I was due a testimonial but, after 10 years at the club, they just never phoned me and ignored me completely.

“It was a shame the club decided to treat me like that, but I have been in football long enough to know you can never be surprised by what happens.”

Back on Teeside now, Livingstone divides his time between buying and selling property and helping coach his son’s Sunday League football team.

He is also keeping a watchful eye on the Premier League relegation battle, with his beloved Middlesbrough seemingly destined for the Championship, as he marvels at the huge changes experienced in the world of football.

“Middlesbrough still have hope but it looks a tall order now doesn’t it?,” he said. “Sam Allardyce has done brilliantly to get Blackburn out of trouble though.

“It is a totally different world to the one I started in. My time at Blackburn was a great education and really was the first time I realised how much you have to look after yourself in your game.

“Of course I miss being involved, but I don’t miss not being able to go out and enjoy your weekends. I at least enjoy my weekends now.

“Footballers nowadays really should not touch alcohol though at all. I think Harry Redknapp is right in his booze ban at Spurs. They are paid fortunes and have all the power - so why shouldn’t they look after themselves? ”