Rae Ingram started his career at Manchester City, going on to play 21 league games after signing professional forms in 1993. Injuries somewhat hindered Rae's progress, and he eventually joined Macclesfield Town in 1998 after a successful loan spell.

Over 100 games later for the Silkmen Rae was on his travels again, crossing the Cheshire border into Staffordshire to sign for Port Vale in 2001. Initially in the first-team at Vale Park, Rae's fortunes soon suffered a downturn in the Potteries.

After losing his place in the first-team, Rae faced an even bigger battle in January 2003 when he contracted meningitis. After doctors confirmed it was the non-lethal strain he was released from hospital. His contract was subsequently not extended at the end of that season, and his days as a player finally came to a close in the Welsh Premier League with Bangor City.

Whilst one door closed another one opened, Rae Ingram swapped fending off defenders with fending off flames, and wouldn't change a thing. Ingram may not have always set the footballing world on fire, but when it comes to entering a blazing building to extinguish flames Ingram would be a regular on the teamsheet.

There are few regrets from Sale-based Rae after quitting football at the relatively young age of 32 to become a firefighter.

"It's a fantastic job and there are a lot of comparisons to being a footballer," he reveals.

"We work as a team on a watch and you get all the usual banter from being in a close team environment. You also experience the adrenalin rush which I used to get every Saturday on the football pitch. There obviously isn't the glitz and the glamour and admittedly the money isn't the same."

There is no denying that Rae's current calling in life is all a far cry from the relative comfort of training four days a week with a football match to look forward to at the weekend. Throw in a healthy salary and it's no surprise that many a schoolboy dreams of becoming a professional footballer.

"I made a nice living from football but nothing that was going to set me up for life. The nature of the job means that you might find yourself in sticky situation now and again but I've never feared for my life and, touch wood, I never will.

"The training and equipment are so good and there's always the rest of the team to help you. You never know what each day brings, whether it is dealing with a road traffic collision or a house fire."

Rae's first experience of fighting fires came playing for a struggling Manchester City side in the mid-90s, making his debut under Alan Ball at a time when the club's fortunes were a far cry from the success in their sights today.

"The club was going through a bad time changing Managers and players. I played left-back but I hated it because I was a centre-half by trade. Left-backs were like gold dust.

"Georgi Kinkladze was in the team then and the game plan was to give him the ball and let him get on with it. He was probably the best footballer I've seen and in training we could never get the ball off him!"

Injuries forced a somewhat premature end to Ingram's playing career with the Blues, a whole new world awaited just down the road in the more humble surroundings of Moss Rose.

"As you can imagine it was a different world there but we got promoted to the old Second Division and, bizarrely, I ended up playing against City."

It's unlikely that too many of the current crop of Manchester City players will go on to become firefighters. You won't find any complaints from Rae Ingram though at how his life has panned out.

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