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Footballer plays a blinder on Countdown

PREMIER League star Clarke Carlisle made a victorious debut as the first major player to appear on TV's Countdown -- but said nothing could be a substitute for the thrill of his day job.

The Burnley defender (30) saw off reigning champion Adam Guest 89-55 to move into the champion's chair and ensure the show's famous teapot trophy will take pride of place among the Turf Moor silverware.

And he told the show's host, Jeff Stelling: "I can't say it's better than winning a big football game -- but it's up there!

"It's a lifelong ambition. I'm just delighted to be here," he added during the show.

Stelling noted: "Your team-mates can't take the mickey out of you too much now."

Carlisle, who admits he has been an "addict" of the show since childhood, had previously failed an audition during a long-term cruciate ligament injury lay-off from January 2001 to September 2002.

But he was crowned Britain's Brainiest Footballer in an ITV show hosted by former Countdown number-cruncher Carol Vorderman in January 2002, seeing off a panel of 12 including England's World Cup-winning full-back George Cohen and legendary Newcastle striker Malcolm 'Supermac' Macdonald.

And, after coming through the audition process successfully this time round, he proved his credentials with a slew of impressive words.


Demonic, dossier and statute were among Carlisle's seven-letter offerings, and a 16-second conundrum added a fitting injury-time flourish.

As a result, his run on the show continues, with a maximum eight games possible should he keep winning. His club, the Clarets, are battling against relegation from the Premier League.

Then-Notts County midfielder Neil MacKenzie, now with non-league Tamworth, is the only footballer to have previously appeared on Countdown, winning five games in 2008 before a quarter-final defeat to series 59 champion Junaid Mubeen.

Countdown was the first show broadcast on Channel 4 upon the station's inception in November 1982.