JEFF Chandler will be best remembered flying down the wing at Burnden Park.

Now he spends his days trying to stop children running away from school.

The former Wanderers favourite scored 46 goals in 209 appearances in two spells with the club.

But Chandler, who turned 50 this year, is now a pupil welfare officer in Blackpool.

And he draws on many of the experiences of his playing days in his daily job of working with youngsters who play truant and helping improve their attendances.

“There are similar peer pressures and negative influences as when I was a player,” said Chandler.

“I never got in trouble with the law but that’s not to say I didn’t make wrong decisions; whether that was falling out with managers or not training hard enough.

“My job now is about making young people aware of those pitfalls.

“It’s very different to football, though there are similarities. I work in a team and need the support of team-mates for a successful outcome.”

Chandler started at Blackpool in 1975 and moved to Leeds in 1979 before joining Wanderers, who were then in the old Second Division, for £40,000 two years later.

The skilful wide man played some of the best football of his career in his four seasons with Bolton, finishing top scorer in the 1984/85 season, though he could not prevent the club dropping into Division Three.

“Manager George Mulhall bought me and I loved it at Bolton,” he said.

“I played up front with Tony Caldwell and George Oghani. We scored 60-odd goals between us and still only finished halfway up the league.

“We played some really good attacking football but just couldn’t defend. I blame the defenders although, in fairness, the three of us never came back further than the halfway line.

“Seriously though, something wasn’t right because we were scoring a lot of goals. I’m not blaming the defenders but we should’ve been doing a lot better. It was a shame.”

The Shepherds Bush-born forward departed for Derby in July 1985, but returned two years later for £20,000 — half the amount he had left for — only for disaster to strike when he ruptured his knee in just his fourth game back, a League Cup clash with neighbours Wigan at Burnden Park.

“I was never the same player after that,” Chandler admitted. “The ball went over my head and I jumped for it and fell awkwardly. I heard my knee snap. I came back in the following April but I wasn’t the same.

“The problem was that, in my head, I thought I was and I wasn’t. I fell out with manager Phil Neal a lot and 99 per cent of the time it was my fault. I realise that now. In fact, we had so many arguments I was surprised when he picked me for the Sherpa Van Trophy final against Torquay in 1989.

“I’d managed to get back into the side against Crewe in the early rounds and we’d gone on a 23-game unbeaten run but, in the last game of the season, I picked up a thigh strain and was a doubt.

“But he picked me and I scored, albeit with a big deflection.

“It was a great experience just playing at Wembley. There was a big crowd and the club hadn’t done anything for a long time. I still think that win kick-started the success of the next few years.”

Chandler left for Cardiff in 1989 but, after two seasons and another serious injury to the same knee, he retired after 16 years in the game and began to look for a new career.

After several years searching, including a stint in double glazing and investing in a Range Rover garage, a friend asked him to help out in a care home in Fylde.

He said: “I started volunteering, then as a casual worker and then a full-time position came up and I got it. It’s difficult when you finish playing. You think it’s never going to end and don’t appreciate it as much as you should.

“I’d never considered going into that line of work but, after the wake-up call of finishing football, I was probably more dedicated to it than I was to football, which was the wrong way round.

“Unlike some of the players, Tony Caldwell for example, who had worked before he played, I’d gone straight into the game from school. I never knew what it was like to get up in the morning and have to go to work and fight for a living.”

After five years working in a care home, Chandler, who played twice for Republic of Ireland, embarked on a very different career before moving into his current role in June.

He explained: “I became a youth offending officer in Preston — visiting prisoners and working with the families, that type of thing — and I did it for seven years.

“Then I saw this job advertised and fancied a change in direction.

“In my job I have to engage with young people and the fact I used to play football definitely helps sometimes.

“It was tough and I had do a diploma in counselling at Blackpool Fylde College — It was awful. I hadn’t been in a classroom since 1975 and I wasn’t even in it very often back then.

“But I’ve been very fortunate to find something I enjoy doing, though it’s not the same as football. You really can’t beat running out of a tunnel in front of the crowd.

“I loved my time at Bolton but I don’t miss it because I don’t regret anything.

“It’s about taking that experience forward and passing it on — and that’s what I’m trying to do now.”