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Former Everton striker jailed

Former Everton striker Michael Branch has been jailed for seven years after being convicted of selling drugs.

Branch, 34,who also played for Manchester City, Wolves and Reading, pleaded guilty to two charges.

He admitted selling just under 3kg of amphetamine to another man in a Liverpool car park, while police seized 1kg of cocaine, with an estimated wholesale value of £40,000-£50,000, in a raid on his Merseyside house in July.

The Serious Organised Crime Agency brought the prosecution and a spokesman told the Liverpool Echo: "This was significant criminality committed by someone who would once have been viewed as a role model.

"The message here is that entering the illegal drugs trade is a route to prison, not to financial gain and a celebrity lifestyle."

Branch was a product of Everton's academy, debuting for the club at the age of 17 and scoring three goals for them while still a teenager.

He was predicted to become a mainstay of the team for years to come, however, he fell out of favour after manager Joe Royle left.

Branch was loaned to Manchester City, Birmingham and Wolves before making a permanent move to Molineux in 2000.

He only scored six goals in 67 games following his £500,000 transfer and, after being loaned out to Reading and Hull, he joined Bradford and then Chester.

The striker dropped out of the Football League by the time he was 28 and went on to play for Halifax and Burscough in non-league.

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