HE is Oxford United’s record appearance holder and was the influential captain during the 1960s. Now ‘Big Ron’ Atkinson has hit the screens for the latest series of Celebrity Big Brother.

Mr Atkinson walked into the notorious Big Brother house in series 12 of the show on Thursday night, to compete against the likes of Charlotte Crosby from Geordie Shore and model Sophie Anderton.

He now faces the prospect of a public vote after being nominated by his fellow housemates and the first live eviction is on Friday night.

Mr Atkinson, 74, played 559 games for the U’s in a career spanning 12 years at the Manor Ground from 1959 to 1971.

He was also the first player to captain a team from the Southern League to the Second Division which was achieved from 1962 to 1968.

After his playing career at Oxford, Atkinson enjoyed a successful managerial career and was the Manchester United boss before Sir Alex Ferguson, winning the FA Cup in 1983 and 1985.

He then turned to football punditry, but was forced to resign from ITV in 2004 after he broadcast a racial remark live on air about a black player when he thought his microphone was switched off.

Most recently, he has appeared in television programmes including Big Ron Manager where he acted as troubleshooter at football league club Peterborough United.

Former Oxford manager and close friend Jim Smith said: “I can’t believe he’s done it (go on Celebrity Big Brother), but it’s the kind of thing he would do as Ron loves that kind of thing.

“Ron is a top, top guy and he was quite an impressive player for the club at the Old Manor, or so he keeps telling me.

“I remember playing against him for Aldershot against Oxford at the Manor. He was a good player, big and strong and was known as ‘the tank’.

“We then competed against each other quite regularly when we were both managers, but later we became close friends.

“Ron had tremendous enthusiasm as a manager just as he has in life.”

Bob Scholes, who has watched Oxford since 1949, remembered Atkinson as a player.

Mr Scholes, 77, of Islip Road, said: “Ron was a larger than life character and had a never-say-die attitude.” The show lasts 23 days until September 13 and is broadcast on Channel 5 at 9pm.