If Ched Evans’s career had gone smoothly, he could have been leading Wales’s attack, alongside Gareth Bale, at Euro 2016 this week.
Instead it has been mired in controversy. Here is his story so far, from the penalty box to the witness box and back again, for Chesterfield’s new striker.
1988 -- Chedwyn Michael Evans is born on December 28 in St Asaph, Denbighshire, north-east Wales.
2000 -- Evans launches his footballing career by joining Chester City’s youth-set-up
2002 -- Manchester City recognise Evans’s potential and swoop to sign him as a 12-year-old. He progresses through City’s ranks.
2006 -- the striker makes his debut for Wales’s U19 side and also goes on to play for the U21s.
2007 -- Evans is loaned to Norwich City, where he scores ten goals in 28 appearances. On returning to Manchester, he nets once in 16 matches but remains highly-rated by manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.
2008 -- a first international cap for Wales’s senior team. Evans goes on to play for the national side 13 times, scoring one goal (on his debut against Iceland).
2009 -- with first-team opportunities increasingly limited at City, Evans is sold by manager Mark Hughes to Sheffield United for £3 million, but makes little impact at Bramall Lane initially.
2011 -- Evans is allegedly involved in the rape of a 19-year-old woman at a hotel near Rhyl in May. He vehemently denies the accusation, but a court later hears the woman was “too drunk to consent”.
2011 -- Evans suddenly bursts into form with a spectacular return of 35 goals during the 2011-12 season for The Blades, taking his overall tally for the club to 42 in 103 appearances.
2012 -- Evans’s superb season for Sheffield United turns sour. He misses the League One promotion play-offs as he is convicted, after a trial at Caernarfon Crown Court, of rape and sentenced to five years in prison, where he works as a painter and decorator. United fail to go up after losing on penalties to Huddersfield Town in the play-offs final at Wembley.
2014 -- in April, Sheffield United meet Evans in prison for talks about re-signing him on his release. A petition, signed by 150,000 people, opposes the move, branding it “a deep insult to the woman he allegedly raped”.
2014 -- in November, Evans is released from jail after serving half of his sentence. But an offer by Sheffield United to resume training with them is soon withdrawn after pressure from supporters, sponsors, patrons and celebrity fans of the club that co-chairman Jim Phipps likened to “mob-like behaviour”.
2015 -- Evans is linked with moves to Hartlepool United, Oldham Athletic and Grimsby Town. But all three fall down, with another petition, signed by more than 60,000 people, demanding that he should not be allowed to re-launch his playing career after “failing to show any remorse for his alleged crime”.
2015 -- after a fresh investigation by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, Evans’s conviction is referred to the Court Of Appeal as new evidence, not previously considered, emerges.
2016 -- the Court Of Appeal quashes Evans’s conviction and orders a re-trial, which is to be heard in October this year. In the meantime, Chesterfield offer his professional career a lifeline by agreeing to sign him for the 2016/17 season, re-uniting him with his former Sheffield United manager Danny Wilson.