Ex-Bolton star Stig Tofting on the tragedy of his parents

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‘My dad shot my mum dead then killed himself’: Ex-Bolton star Stig Tofting on the tragedy of his parents

His first cause for concern was when neither parent appeared at the kitchen window to greet him, as was usual upon the sound of his bike screeching to a stop outside.

Entering the apartment, the family dog, Lady, ran to him. ‘Something felt wrong,’ he remembers.

It was then that he saw the body of his 41-year-old father, Poul, lying in a pool of blood in the hallway. A hunting rifle was next to him. Further inside, on the floor by the kitchen, was his mother, Kirsten — she was 34. ‘I did not know if it was a bad dream,’ he says.

His father had shot his mother before turning the gun on himself, leaving their only child to discover the scene. Tofting, two weeks from his 14th birthday, grabbed Lady and ran to his grandparents’ home, ‘crying and screaming’.

‘Losing your parents, at 13, it does something to you,’ he tells Sportsmail, revealing his story for the first time in English. But if Tofting’s life was always destined to be shaped by the darkness of that summer’s evening, then he has used it as a force for good.

At 49, he is now a grandfather and, while he still does not have all the answers he once would have liked, there is neither anger nor upset 35 years on.

‘I learned to live with the memory of that day,’ he says. ‘In that situation, I could not do anything. There were two other possibilities — if I had been at home, maybe I could have prevented it, but if not, I could have gone as well, and I wouldn’t be here now.’

The question is delivered with a little apprehension, but did he even give a second’s thought to his cup final?

‘I played,’ he says, unflinching, as if no alternative existed. ‘They did not want me to, but it was the best place for me. My team-mates knew nothing, it had happened 18 hours before. But I had no doubt. We won and I was man of the match, chosen by the manager of Denmark.’

Tofting produces a picture from his autobiography, No Regrets. There it is, Sepp Piontek, boss of the famous Danish Dynamite team of the 1980s, holding aloft the arm of the blond teenager, his prize a pair of Hummel football boots.

This one story, perhaps more than any other, captures the resilience of the boy whose life could have taken a very different path. Instead, the slender teen grew into a barrel-chested and formidable star of the national team, playing at four major tournaments.

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