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Football puts boot into booze

Steve Wilson | 10:24 UK time, Wednesday, 13 May 2009

For decades, British football and drinking went hand-in-hand. It was a partnership built on the need for young men to let off steam and bond with their team-mates.

Managers gave tacit approval to such sessions and excesses went largely unreported.

How times have changed! Now even Harry Redknapp, that most British of football bosses, is considering a complete in-season ban on his players indulging in any alcohol at all following Ledley King's recent indiscretion.

Harry Redknapp

For some of the mavericks of years gone by, it would have been too much to bear, practically taking all the fun out of being a footballer. But these days the top players have several thousand reasons a week to stick to the rules.

The biggest influence on the drink culture in British football has been the influx of foreign players. I remember one ex-pro recalling his astonishment when his club's foreign contingent arrived at the players' Christmas party with car keys in hand. Surely they weren't going to drive home from the party of the year? Well, yes they were, because they would be going home sober. One former player even told me how his new boss never really trusted him once he discovered he was teetotal.

Today, managers understand how abstinence can improve performance, while players have worked out that bagging one more three-year contract before they hang up the boots can make the difference between being fantastically wealthy or just very, very rich.

Technology is also a consideration when it comes to deciding where and when to have a drink. As one manager once told me, a picture of him "getting a bit out of order" in a nightclub could be on a tabloid picture desk before he's even left the premises.

I reckon most modern footballers are pretty dedicated individuals who have made big sacrifices before anyone has even heard of them, let alone started paying them big money. One thing is for certain; if I had enjoyed their money and fame in my late-teens and early twenties, I would have been in no fit state to play!


  • Comment number 1.

    I reckon you can be a top footballer and anjoy a drink, but you could be an even better one if you left it alone. The top footballers should llok after their bodies in the way that athletes do. Do you think Usain Bolt is out on the town during the week? No, neither do I.

  • Comment number 2.

    I think the issue here is moderation. Heavy drinking and optimum athletic perormance are not good bedfellows. A quiet pint or a glass of wine you can get away with and it's a relatively small sacrifice to make if you're being given vast sums of money to do what you love day in day out. But like you mentioned, young guys rarely go for a quiet pint!

  • Comment number 3.

    If I was a top footballer the temptation to have a drink and take a couple of girls home would be too much.

    I would be in rehab in no time.

  • Comment number 4.


    Are bbctv showing the 2009 confederations cup in South Africa next month

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm assuming that Usain Bolt comment was tongue in cheek?

  • Comment number 6.

    I have a drink from time to time and I enjoy it, and it helps me relax. I couldn't play to save my life. I come from Dublin but moved to the south of France in my late 30s, where I quit smoking, I swim run and bike. ..That's the me bit. Here's the drink bit. George Best was destroyed by it, Adams nearly destroyed by it, Gazza completely messed up by it, McGrath had problems with it, so apparently did Roy Keane.
    Alcohol would be an illegal substance if it was invented today, it's not only highly addictive it can kill. I have had seen people die through what the alcohol has done to their bodies. It helps you relax, lets down your fear and stress walls, and makes you feel like you are having a good time, till the hang over. It removes water and vitam C from your body. So no athlete should be thinking he is going to be better than the bloke who didn't drink. But then that is one of it's effects.
    Part of the problem is not alcohol but the culture around it. In the UK and Ireland it's a popular past time to go out and get plastered. The only people I see here plastered on the street are the ones who are not mediterranians. When you look at the players of the year, who are they where do they come from. Countries where Wine is a huge cultural element but not the abuse of it. There is no reason to go for a drink! You could play cards, have a game of ball, go for a swim, do some excercise, run, go to a movie, make love, paint, create something, instead of p*ssing your life away in a trough with a load of other blokes overweight, under strength, and befuddled in the head by alcohol. Jimmy 5 bellys wasn't ever funny.

  • Comment number 7.

    I don't think it's just the alcohol either. How many times have we seen players from either Spurs or Chelsea go out on the town and stay out until 3-4am. Yes I know they are normally drunk as well so how do they then train the next day? They also do it a few days before a big match as well.

    There's a big difference between having a glass or two of wine with your meal to what most of the British players do. Surely they have to start thinking that they are professional athletes. This also just proves that some managers don't have control over their players. It's rare to see a Man Utd or Arsenal player get seen like that even though it has just happened to Bendtner. They need to be educated more but they won't learn because they will just say we earn 60K a week and we are better than you!!!

  • Comment number 8.

    I agree with my leader..

    These athletes are paid thousands per week...

    A glass of wine with a meal now and then maybe but wait until you retire and then do what you want!

    This problem is embedded in the British culture only have to see the Brits abroad compared to our European counterparts drinking cold expresso's......

  • Comment number 9.

    Footballers are prevented from so may activities that might cause them injury - hence they all play golf. It seems strange that they should be permitted to drink, which clearly damages their performance/fitness, but not participate in any other condition-damaging activity. If they want to let off steam aren't there enough airhead bimbos in the clubs anyway?

  • Comment number 10.

    In my time I have been known to go down the pub, enjoy a few/several lagers, packets of crisps, pork scratchings, go to a nite club and then get a pie and chips or a pukka pie to take home at 2 in the morning.

    Then again, I don't play for Redknapp. I do, however, play pool better after a few.

  • Comment number 11.

    I am a Spurs fan and a Ledley King fan. Many others would agree that this is, seemingly, completely out of character for the player. He has apologised to his fans, to the club and to his manager. He can't do any more than that and I hope it's forgotten and he moves on positively. However, nothing can excuse what he has done.

    Alcohol has NO place in football. These players are paid astronomical amounts of money and are extremely famous and well-known in their own right. They have to appreciate that, whether they like it or not, they are role models for kids. The last thing we need are talented youngsters with bags of potential ruining themeselves by drinking because they have seen their heroes doing the same.

    I think Redknapp is right to ban alcohol in-season. Perhaps Sport England and the FA could bring themselves in on this and ban alcohol in football altogether - maybe even testing for it in some way and punishing those that abuse it, just like the drug cheats. THAT would deter youngsters in the long run, Im sure.

  • Comment number 12.

    Mind you it is a bit odd that the title beside Puts boot into booze is 'Rich Claret Vintage', see how much it is ingrained in your culture?

  • Comment number 13.

    Theres no way players should be allowed drink alcohol. Clubs shouldnt have to ban it as it should be in their own interest to be in peak physical condition and alcohol is an addictive drug which has a negative affect on the body. The society we live in today has a culture of binge and heavy drinking our social system is based around pubs and drink and theres no surprise that alot of it is watched in pubs. For me the most important aspect of this is the kids who watch football and are learning the game, the image portrayed by todays footballer is bling sex and all these superficial trappings instead of being the best you can be and the reward is winning not a ferrari and a plastic girlfriend followed by getting drunk and beating her up alla GAZZA or Ledly King of late im sure theres others and other scandals, even on the BBC the commentators say cheers lawro etc etc another sub concious alcohol referal.

    So no I dont think footballers should drink alcohol their careers are short anyway, but again the players themselves should be more focussed.

  • Comment number 14.

    To 11. At 12:33pm on 13 May 2009, PezinhoTHFC wrote:

    King may have apologised to fans, club and manager but that just isn't enough. If what he has said is true then why hasn't he publicly apologised to the bouncer, police and to everyone else that he has offended by saying those racist remarks. Surely he understands racism!!

    I don't think the FA can do anything about the drinking culture unless they stop having cups and leagues branded with the alcoholic drinks. One way could be for the police to sit outside footballers houses in the mornings and then breath test them!! That might stop a few. Also could throw a few in prison as well.

  • Comment number 15.

    I guess it's up to the players, if they are happy to affect their performances and long term career prospects who are we to nanny them ?

    On the other hand this isn't a new story and has been happening for years, I seem to recall pics of Eric Cantona smoking whilst playing for Man Utd, his performances were still top drawer. Maybe he would have been even better but will we ever know now ?

  • Comment number 16.

    I hardly drink, but if I was a footballer and was told I would have to be tee-total I would first like to see medical evidence that having one or two beers a week would in any way affect your performance on the pitch.

    I think it's an over-reaction, but on the other hand it's much simpler and clearer to impose a blanket ban on alcohol.

    Gazza said players these days are under pressure these days and need to drink to relax. I don't buy that at all. There are ways of (a) not drawing attention to yourself and (b) relaxing / avoiding stress without the need to drink. King was not drinking because of any pressure, he was irresponsible and naive.

  • Comment number 17.

    I don't see it a problem for a player to have a couple of drinks to 'relax' as Gazza puts it, but the main issue is players going out to night clubs to drink a lot. They aren't normal civilians once they reach a high level in football. You wouldn't expect other high profile people to go out drinking and get into a scuffle at a nightclub, would you? It might be ok for popstars and the like, but not for professional sports people who earn £100,000 a week. So a few drinks in the privacy of their own home is fine, going out on the town like they are just like you and me isn't, because they aren't. It doesn't take a genius to work out that; footballer (modern day celebrity) + a load of drink + everyday people + in-your-face nightclub environment = aggro. Any footballer who does do this is (a) very dim or (b) an attention seeker, or both.

  • Comment number 18.

    Having just walked down an alleyway in my town and witnessed several school kids enjoying a bottle of White Lightning I feel it is obvious that the booze problem we have here starts at an early age. Footballers do have a responsibility to set a good example but we also need to educate our children about alcohol. I don't think players should be saints, I only ask that they think before they act and, ultimately, get caught.

  • Comment number 19.

    Generally UK footballers are not well educated and come from backgrounds where 'going out on the lash' with the lads, is part of the culture. Combine this with lots of money & lots of spare time, it's a recipe for trouble. European players, on the other hand, are generally better educated & from better backgrounds.
    It never fails to amaze me that when a footballer fails a drugs test it's always for a performance reducing drug.

  • Comment number 20.

    It is a cultural thing. Go out with a group of lads in the UK and say you're not drinking and, unless you've got car keys, you get the mick taken. How often have I heard work younger work colleagues proudly tell me they're going out to get plastered on Friday or Saturday night ?

    Footballers need to remember that alcohol is a DRUG. It can only harm performance, not least because of its effect on sleep. Whenever I hear that a player has been out drinking or driving too fast at 3am or 4am, I just think how annoyed the fans who pay his wages must feel.

    Problem is that many of them now live in a vacuum, with agents and "advisors" to do everything for them. They have lost all contact with the real world and assume the rules and regs that we have to comply with simply don't apply to them.

  • Comment number 21.

    Alcohol has no place in sport if you want to be the best. You ask Usain Bolt if he would consider drinking whilst training for events. Of course he wouldn't because it might result in him losing 0.1 seconds off of his finishing time which could be the difference between a gold or a silver... or nothing at all.

    Translate that to football terms... Euro 96, extra time against Germany when the ball was whipped across the 6 yard box and Gazza missed the ball by inches. If he hadn't been a drinker, maybe he would have been that split second faster and England would have been in their first major final since 66!

    I use Gazza as an example, of course there's many more. For instance, every week when players and managers complain that their players are "tired" and play too many games... if they're so tired then why are they constantly seen stumbling out of nightclubs in the early hours of the morning.

    Think about how good the Premiership is now and then think how good it would be if the players involved decided to reach their full potential instead of drink!

  • Comment number 22.

    To 14. At 12:43pm on 13 May 2009, Nick_Hove_Actually wrote:
    I take your point, I actually meant he'd said sorry in a general sense but if he hasn't actually apologised to those in question at the club then, yes, he needs to. I appreciate that.

    On the contrary, I DO think the FA can do things to stop it. They allow the branding of cups so they can dis-allow it too. Look at Formula 1. There is now a blanket ban in Europe preventing teams from sporting clothing or cars with tobacco sponsorships. It can be done and I believe it should be done.

    Those who smoke know that they can get tobacco without needing the branding on an F1 car. Those that drink should know that they can get alcohol without needing to see if their favourite player is drinking or if the League Cup is sponsored by a brand of beer.

  • Comment number 23.

    I think we're all forgetting something here. Yes, these players are top athletes, and with that comes responsibility. However - ultimately, when these players turn up at the training ground or on match day, they are merely going to work.

    I appreciate that the size of their audience is massive and many act as role models and icons. However, so too do millions of other men and women in other professions. Such as actors, singers, lawyers and city traders.

    Responsibility for drinking sensibly lies with the individual and can not be enforced. If a player wants a glass of wine with his dinner, he will have one regardless of what rules are in place. Or are managers going to start interrupting family meals at 8pm on Thursday evenings armed with breathalysers?!

    Club rules regarding alcohol should be in place, with regards to performance and excess and time periods before matches but nothing as draconian as a complete ban on alcohol will ever be successfull in deterring players from drinkng. In fact it could easily have the reverse affect. As soon as it's consumption becomes excessive or interferes with performance then players should be dealt with by their club and/or the law accordingly.

    A player having a small glass of wine with his dinner is no different to the politician having a beer after work, and I would say there's far more riding on their performances than an injury prone centre back from North London.

    Politicians performances and the state of the country is another discussion.......

  • Comment number 24.

    The problem this country has AS A SOCIETY, which is reflected somewhat through football, is our complete lack of promotion of a sociable time out with friends, without getting bladdered or listening to ridiculously loud music.

    I've lived abroad and it's not like that.

    WHY is it so cool to drink 10 pints of beer? WHY?? Do you think sexual performance improves? Because I'm sure no medical journal has ever published an article saying so.......and I'm sure plenty will have been published showing the opposite....

    WHY is it so cool to snort cocaine? Are there health benefits?? You bet there aren't. So WHY is it cool to do it? It isn't. Except it is in 'high society'. WHY?

    What I think the case is is this: that somewhere, sometime in the mists of time it was deemed a test of human 'character/leadership potential' to be able to inspire others to get drunk/stoned etc, whilst remaining sober oneself.

    Well I don't consider that leadership behaviour. Because what you are doing is lining up future costs onto the taxpayer. And promoting potential human misery at the same time.

    Now when our society starts to face up to that one, then we may be moving out of the Dark Ages and starting to become worthy of our deluded belief that we 'are natural leaders of the world'.

    Well: we are in a sense. At killing foreigners for money. And at destroying our own peoples through drink and drugs.

    Is that our marketing collateral in 2009?

    Hope not..........

  • Comment number 25.

    Every person who ever played soccer always enjoyed a pint of beer or shandy after a match, and what is wrong with a beer or a glass of wine before dinner , nothing

  • Comment number 26.

    I really don't know why alcohol should be completely banned. If what that bouncer said is true then Ledley King has to be punished, but does that really warrant banning alcohol altogether? They are professional sportsmen and have to take care of their physical condition but it's not like a few pints every now and then is going to ruin it. Football is still just their job, and surely they must be allowed to have a life outside work, right?

    And then this "they are role models for kids and have to set a good example" sigh... Can we really expect every single sportsman or famous person to be some sort of flawless saint? Of course not, they are humans after all. And it's not only them that are role models. I mean if a father drinks a glass of red wine with his son seeing, is he setting a bad example for his son? Should he be punished for that? We'd effectively have to ban alcohol in the whole of UK in order not to give bad role models for kids.

  • Comment number 27.

    The comparison to Usain Bolt and professional footballers is banal. Usain Bolt is trying to be the fastest man in the world, something which requires explosive power and speed and very little else. If he loses an increment from these attributes, it could mean the difference between first and second, between a record and a mere win.

    A drink, from time to time, does not detract from the range of skills a footballer needs to have - it will not reduce their jump, their ability to see a pass and complete it, their positioning, their set piece play or their stamina or pretty much anything else. A kneejerk reaction based on one player's inability to curb his drinking is just incredibly stupid.

    Some players are teetotal, some are not. Some continental managers allow, recommend even, wine the night before as an aide to restful sleep. Brian Clough famously won two European Cups by treating the games as extended jollies. Did his side lack for pace, skill, stamina? It's possible. Did they have great team spirit? Indisputably.

    In excess; well obviously you wouldn't want that. But neither would any employer.

  • Comment number 28.

    I reckon footballers should be entitled to drink alcohol, just as long as they don't get out of hand like Ledley King did last week. If there was a plan to ban footballers drinking alcohol, I think the only way to put a stop to this is by the consequences of fines and suspensions by the FA.

  • Comment number 29.

    It's a difficult situation to manage really.
    There is no reason whatsoever for a footballer to be out in this state.
    Firstly, because they are recognisable people they are still representing their employer... I seem to think that a large number of standard employers would sack an employee for similar behaviour if it tarnished the business.
    Secondly, it can't be good for them when it comes to training the next day. Of course, Ledley is an exception to this rule because, due to his knees, he doesn't train!!! Therefore he has a whole week to recover... but that's a moot point.
    King was out earlier in the evening with Jenas, Defoe & Lennon, yet all 3 had called it a night before this incident happened.

    Alcohol IS a cultural problem in the UK. For some reason people think it's not just acceptable, but it's a good idea to go out, drink 8-10 pints then get into a fight. What's more, some class that as fun!
    What hope do we have when celebrities are seen doing the same, or tumbling out of a taxi completely off their heads?!

    I'm 33, and haven't been drunk in over 7 years..... I don't feel the need to go into town at the weekend and drink to the early hours. At the most I'll have 4 cans across the period of a weekend (Fri evening to Sun evening), and that's in the comfort of my own home.
    Even after playing on a Saturday afternoon, while the rest of the team downed beers etc. in the pub I was on pints of Blackcurrant and soda to rehydrate!!

    I don't think a ban on alcohol in football will work, and a player is entitled to enjoy one or two glasses to wind down, but some are going too far.

  • Comment number 30.

    To me, it's like what people usually say, 'everything in moderation'. Another point would be Guinness's slogan 'Drink Responsibly'. I get the feeling that a lot of professional footballers do not seem to know the dangers of irresponsible drinking, or maybe they are just ignorant of it.

    Having a complete ban on alcohol to me is too extreme of a step though, because in sport socialising after a big game and getting together for a drink is a part of culture and a means of building team spirit. As long as the people involved are smart enough to know when to stop, why shouldn't they be allowed to enjoy themselves?

    I would instead recommend that footballers, like other people, be made to attend alcohol education programs to make them more and more aware of the dangers of excess consumption. This should definitely start at the youth levels and continue even after they stop playing if need be. One of the things that we must realise about bans is that if people have the nerve, they will continue to do things to defy any ban as long as they are smart enough to avoid getting caught. I think it's more important to make people realise the dangers of excess consumption and how disastrous it can be to people. Once people are aware, they will be intelligent enough to know for themselves how to go about it, and whether or not to completely abstain from it.

  • Comment number 31.

    I love it, like smoking lets ban it and see how brilliant the players get after a season on the dry. Just like smoking!

  • Comment number 32.

    I think it's more to do with problems with the mentality of people in the UK that means that every social event is linked to alcohol and it's accepted as the norm. Football and alcohol are often linked together through sponsorship and fans tend to enjoy a few pints after a match too. Other countries in the world where alcohol is more freely available don't have a problem like we do because they drink it to enjoy and not just to get s***faced. Footballers are human too and wish to socialize and relax but because it is 'the done thing' to get smashed in the UK it is widely accepted that this is normal when one goes out - i bet there were Tottenham fans offering Ledley King pints and not complaining about his behaviour then. There were similar problems in Scotland with the Tartan army booing Barry Ferguson and Alan MacGregor because they got 'drunk representing their country', when 90% of the tartan army were doing exactly the same thing! I enjoy a pint or two sometimes, but i'm not a professional player and i'm not representing my country or my club as a fan when i do it - remember, a real man knows his limits.

  • Comment number 33.

    I say let them drink!... it's one of the only ways we get to see behind the super-bland answers they give in interviews - "3 points", "just another game", "for the team", "thinking about saturday", etc ... if they weren't allowed to drink and act like idiots then then we would never know which of them are the good guys and who are the idiots!

    if they want to ruin their careers (and maybe lives) then let them ... and let us laugh at their downfall whilst they are doing it!

    Anyway, for what it is worth though - just because the y drink doesn't make them bad people or footballers... Best, Gazza, Merson, Adams, McGragh, Robson, Sheringham, Whiteside, etc... they were all ok.

  • Comment number 34.

    Boozing is a British culture that affects Brits round the world. To begin, it is destructive to your health, it stains your personal image and your national identity.

    Drinking responsibly is what should be encouraged in this country. Too many teenagers grow up knowing how to count how many cans of lager they can down in a minute but put them in a class room and they are astonishingly stupid.

    Sir Alex Ferguson once said, talking about racism, 'it has to come from the home'. If you are brought up knowing your limits and what is good for your health, you will definitely grow up with such knowledge integral to your adult mind.

    Sadly, it is in our human nature to want to break rules, so I persoanlly do not see much point in banning and fining. If the culture is change, the difference in mental health, physical health and social stability will definitely begin to manifest.

  • Comment number 35.

    I agree that today's footballers are paid a seemingly obscene amount of money to go out on a Saturday afternoon and perform. However, I remember the Liverpool team of the seventies, David Ginola, Eric Cantona and alike who still seemed to be able to excel at the top of their profession whilst smoking several cigarettes and having a few beers in their off time.

    It is clear that an excess of substances such as booze and fags does not generally improve performance in top-class athletes but to what extent indulging in vices in moderation is up for debate.
    Going off at a slight tangent and talking about nutrition.As we know nowadays most top footballers' diets are rigorously controlled.However, I too hope that the first blogger's comments about Usain Bolt were tongue-in-cheek as I recall after he won the 100M final he is quoted as saying that had prepared by gobbling on some fried chicken. Colin Jackson said similar things when he was at the top of his events. Linford Christie was more of a pure soul - sticking to a calorie controlled regime.
    In summation, I believe that the off the pitch/track life of a footballer/athlete is of course up to the club/individuals who pay their wages but should we not also cut the individual who is actually competing some slack? Let's not get caught up in draconian madness.

  • Comment number 36.

    Nick_Hove_Actually, when you say "How many times have we seen players from either Spurs or Chelsea go out on the town and stay out until 3-4am? ...It's rare to see a Man Utd ... player get seen like that."

    I guess you forgot to include the Manchester United Christmas party in this?

    As more than one person has mentioned here, if alcohol was introduced now it would be banned. Footballers are more than professional ahtletes earning big salaries. They are role models for tens of thousands of young people that copy their idols. If just one or two stars behave in this way, then their fans will do the same.

    Footballers have chosen the life of a professional sportsman, therefore they need to behave like the role models they are/must be. By not drinking during the season they would send a powerful message to all young people.

  • Comment number 37.

    Whats wrong with them deciding to do their drinking in the comfort and opulence of their homes??????????

    Surely its the temptation to show off thats killing them

  • Comment number 38.

    Can we stop calling these players "professional" footballers, most dont know what its like to act professionally in its truest sense, with honourable exceptions.

  • Comment number 39.

    As admirable as Redknapp's sentiments might be, Spurs, and indeed Redknapp, have been here before, as evidenced in this article:

    Essentially players who know they are needed will continue to get away with it. Dawson is out injured - is Redknapp going to drop Ledley King and play Ricardo Rocha at the back? If Defoe and Keane go our for a drink the same night, what's he going to do, sell them?

    All very well to have a ban, but top players can get away with it as if the club don't like it and it isn't seen to impact their performances seriously there will always be another club willing to put up with it. Even Joey Barton was signed by Newcastle after City had enough, and now Newcastle have had enough there's talk of Blackburn signing him - they won't be the only club bidding either.

  • Comment number 40.

    Nowt wrong with the odd glass of red wine with a meal. It's the British and Irish drinking culture that's the problem, British Players are brought up with it! It's glorified on certain radio stations and by some ex-players, the, "We did it and it had no effect, so it must be okay." brigade. Stop the boozing until bladdered culture in society first and maybe British players will follow suit.

  • Comment number 41.

    I am really struggling to see the problem. The majority of players will enjoy alcohol while they're winding down. Who is it affecting to a negative extent?

    If Ledley King/Bendtner want to go out and get steaming drunk it is them personally that end up looking like idiots. So whats the problem?

    Don't give me this 'bad influence' refrain. Kids of other generations had George Best and lists and list of other debauchery.

    Champagne when winning the cup is an icon that shouldn't be removed simply because one or two players a season go to a nightclub and act like the rest of society who are quick to judge them from their hypocritical pedestals.

  • Comment number 42.

    Gazza's comments are a joke considering he blew his talent and his family life through booze abuse. Taking tips from him is like having relationship advice from Stan Collymore. I reckon if someone wanted to pay me the equivalent of a yearly executive wage on a weekly basis I could just about motivate myself to not drink. Yeah, I'd probably just about manage to relax in my multi million pound mansion with literally every gadget or luxury money can buy.

  • Comment number 43.

    If you look at the players who played on to their mid to late 30's then most of them were teetotal, Dalglish,Strachan and Beardsley being three prime examples.That was before the game became as physically demanding as it is now.For the amount of money players at the top of the game are paid they should treat their bodies as temples.They should follow a diet and lifestyle to ensure that they are at the top of their physical and mental prowess. I know they are young men who want to live life to the full, but they need to be educated that they cannot abuse their bodies, alcohol and tiredness will make injuries more likely and will hinder recovery.

  • Comment number 44.

    Teetotal footballers? I'll drink to that!

  • Comment number 45.

    I am a big fan of Southampton, and a big fan of booze. Harry Redknapp has ruined one of these for football already, I'd be sick to see him ruin the other. One thing I am certainly not a fan of is Mr Redknapp.

  • Comment number 46.

    I agree with a lot of what's been said here. One thing I haven't seen touched on is that footballers - like many celebs - turn to alcohol and drugs when they're not on the pitch performing, because they are looking to recreate the high they get there.

    I haven't played professionally or at anywhere near that level but playing a game of footy in a stadium with people cheering you on is a buzz for sure. Imagine the buzz Prem players get from that?

    I don't think there is any one reason why some drink - or not - but rather an amalgam of factors coming into play.

    It's hard to go from being larger than life on the pitch to being just another Joe blow off it.

  • Comment number 47.

    Gentlemen, time, please!

    Shouldn't we take a step back and look at football's biggest alcohol-related tragedy in order to immediately put this argument to bed?

    Please do not go telling me that poor old Pele would be suffering from acute erectile dysfunction had he moderated his drinking.

    As a fan of the great Brazilian, it dismays me that even a lengthy session of ball juggling now fails to bring pleasure to this man's life.


  • Comment number 48.

    collie21 - you said look at the footballers of the year and where they come from...

    Giggs won PFA footballer of the year, ashley young won PFA young player of the year, and Steven Gerrard won writers player of the year. I'm pretty sure that they're all from the UK. Footballers are paid silly amounts of money and I would say the majority don't let their drinking get out of hand because of it, but to say that the footballers of the year are all mediterranean due to their wine culture is nonsense.

    I think if I was a spurs player at the moment I'd feel a bit annoyed that the whole club is being made to punish when i imagine most don't get into the same kind of situations that ledley king did last week. But i'd get over it when i opened my paycheque...

  • Comment number 49.

    ...and another thing I've just realised...if there's one nation of people who share an equivalent fondness for beer with England and the UK, it's Germany. In fact circa the 2006 World Cup Oliver Kahn appeared in two commercials endorsing a popular German brand. And yet we don't often seem to hear about any drunken shenanigans involving German players! Perhaps the FA should take a leaf out of the DFB's books to see what they're doing right?

  • Comment number 50.

    OK, beer can steal your erectile function (brewers droop). But nothing can sap you manlyness faster than being a manager at one of the Premierships bottom3/4 clubs. So Mr Shearer et al read on...There really does seem to be a genuine alternative to prescription blue pills at last, (take note all Hull first eleven). Butea Superba has now been clinically tested and proven to improve the performance of over 84% of all those impotence sufferers who took part in the trials Michael Owen would definitely benefit). That compares favourably with the market leading blue pills available from your GP which show success in just 50% of cases.
    Equally important are the benefits of a non chemical solution like Butea Superba (available under the brand name HealthyED). These HealthyED tablets are taken each morning and after a week or so start to activate the tiny blood vessels in and around the groin area (this may help avoid injury such as strains) which so often do not function properly as we get older (like Mark Viduka). This increased blood flow is a permanent state and eliminates the need to take a drug 1 or 2 hours prior to a sexual encounter (or a match maybe). This knowledge seems to give added confidence to those taking the supplement (confidence guys) and in turn this again improves performance for more than 90 minutes too.

  • Comment number 51.

    Hmmm not allowed to drink, not allowed to smoke, cant go out, confined to home only allowed out to train & play having to act as role models because parents are too lazy to do it themselves.
    Wake up & smell the roses people your living in a fantasy world, instead of concentrating on the 1 or 2 bad apples, where are all the stories on the other 6-700 professional premiership players who each week train, play & then go home to the wife & kids & give there time to charity. You wont read those stories becasue they dont sell papers, we want train wrecks, we need train wrecks to feel better about ourselves, do we really want one dimensional preprogrammed colourless robots? I for one do not.

  • Comment number 52.

    Why many footballers like drinking? Is it easy for them to relax? Alcohol is not a good thing if there is too much.

  • Comment number 53.

    With alcohol being LEGAL to buy and consume in any quantities, I'm not sure the FA could blanket ban it.

    I suppose clubs could, but again, if they tried to sack you for having one glass of wine with dinner, the European Court of Justice would have a field day.

    Rugby players seem to perform well and they are notorious for their drinking games...

  • Comment number 54.

    These players are professional footballers, some of whom are idolized or have their names on the back of kids shirts. Walking around drunk midweek is not the ideal representation of a professional footballer.

    These days, the players need to realize they have more of a responsibility. The are in the media limelight 24/7 they have to conduct themselves in a professional manner.

    I can understand that they need to let their hair down and chill out, which is fair enough. But you don't need to drink to have a good time, you don't need to drink to relax. Its just an existing culture within the old way of playing football back in the 70s or 80s that influences the current crop of players decision.

    Theres no excuse for getting so heavily drunk and acting stupidly. Again they need to be more aware of what they do, and if they do drink, they need to drink within moderation.

    This could possibly be one of the main reasons why England as a national team will never be able to compete with the likes of a well drilled and disciplined Italian, Spanish or Brazilian side. Harsh but true.

  • Comment number 55.

    38# Thesefeetdontdance.
    "Can we stop calling these players "professional" footballers, most dont know what its like to act professionally in its truest sense, with honourable exceptions".
    I've always thought that 'professional footballer' was an oxymoron.

  • Comment number 56.

    It's rare to see a Man Utd or Arsenal player get seen like that even though it has just happened to Bendtner. They need to be educated more but they won't learn because they will just say we earn 60K a week and we are better than you!!!


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