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From Tranmere youth player to right wing leader: New Ukip frontman Paul Nuttall in profile

Paul Nuttall announced his candidacy in October, three months after pledging to take a background role after the Brexit referendum victory. Credit: PA

Former history lecturer and youth footballer Paul Nuttall's appointment as Ukip leader comes four months after he said he had no plans to replace Nigel Farage.

Back in July, the 39-year-old surprised many in and out of the anti-EU party when he said he had achieved his political objectives following the Brexit vote.

"I have been at the forefront of the campaign to leave the European Union for a decade now, and I believe I can step aside with my objective achieved and my head held high," he said at the time.

The North West England MEP confirmed he would keep his seat in the European Parliament to "hold the Government's feet to the fire" during the talks on leaving the EU.

The man from Bootle, Merseyside has pledged to try to make Nigel Farage a peer. Credit: PA

But the shock resignation of Farage's replacement as leader, Diane James, after 18 days changed his mind as - in his own words - it left the crisis-hit party "looking over the edge of a political cliff" as other senior figures defected or resigned.

"It'll either step off or it will step back," Mr Nuttall said as he announced his candidacy in October. "And I want to be the candidate that will tell us to come back."

The man born in Bootle, Merseyside was regarded as the most likely of the remaining candidates to be able to capitalise on the high level of support for Leave among Labour's traditional strongholds in the North.

The former deputy leader and the head of the party's delegation in the European Parliament said he represented the "unity candidate".

Paul Nuttall founded Ukip's youth wing before being elevated to party chairman in 2008. Credit: PA

"I have huge support out there across the country, not only among people at the top of the party in Westminster and with the MPs, but also among the grassroots," he said.

The comprehensive school-educated pupil achieved a higher qualification in sports science before gaining MA honours in history at Liverpool Hope University, where he eventually taught having briefly lived and worked in Barcelona.

Mr Nuttall revealed he was among the Liverpool fans caught up in the Hillsborough Stadium disaster in 1989.

The former Tranmere Rovers youth player had previously harboured dreams of playing football.

He did not make it as a pro but still found a home on the right wing as his political career began in the mid 2000s.

Paul Nuttall said Ukip can become the 'patriotic voice of working people' under his leadership. Credit: PA

The founder of the party's youth wing was made party chairman in 2008 and earned a reputation for getting stuck into political debates and representing controversial positions, including his religious opposition to abortion.

Since his election as an MEP in 2009, he has spoken of his support for the death penalty for child abusers, his desire to see parts of the NHS privatised and even openly praised Vladimir Putin's foreign policy.

Mr Nuttall claimed the Russian president was "generally getting it right" in the Syrian conflict despite claims that Moscow is helping Syrian forces carry out atrocities against civilians.

He also sided with Mr Putin over the military seizure that led to Crimea's annexation, which the MEP described as "democratic" despite the West delivering sanctions on Russia.

Mr Nuttall underlined his disdain for debate in the European Parliament by being ranked 736th out of 756 MEPs in terms of attendance.

After winning the leadership two days before his 40th birthday, Mr Nuttall said he wanted to make Ukip the "patriotic voice of working people" as he offered a string of tweets outlining his policy priorities:

The new party frontman has also pledged to try to secure Ukip's outgoing temporary leader a place on the red benches of the House of Lords.

Mr Nuttall previously told the Sunday Times: "If Ukip are offered positions in the House of Lords, the first name on the list will be Nigel Farage."

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