Getting drunk doesn’t suit me anymore

I know there have been reports recently, saying that I’m living on the streets and that I might need to have my leg amputated. Let me clear this up a bit!

Firstly, I want people to know that I’m in a good place, I’m staying with a friend. I don’t want people to think that I am just living on the street, all the time. It’s true that I did have some nights sleeping on the street, but not too many. A lot of people did help me out, so it wasn’t too many nights. One day, for example, an ambulance picked me up – I think I was lying in a bus stop somewhere – and they took me to a McDonald’s for a cup of tea. On another night, a friend tried to help me get a hotel room, I didn’t have any money, but there weren’t any rooms. The receptionist let me sit for a while and I was there till the morning. I don’t want to get in that state again. I intend not to have to sleep on the street anymore! That is down to me not to get in that position.

I know there have been reports that I might need to have my foot or my leg amputated. Thankfully, that is not quite the case! I’d had a few bad days and I had a verruca. It was annoying me and rather than go to the doctors or hospital, I have to say I picked it off, but I infected it. It went down to the bone and that can be very dangerous. I wasn’t thinking about taking my tablets, my medication for my diabetes, the drink took the pain away. But I got cream and antibiotics and my foot is much much better now. The swelling and infection has gone. I don’t think my foot is going to be amputated any time soon! I love walking and I wouldn’t want that to happen.

A couple of people have said things to me and I’ve realised that drink doesn’t suit me anymore. Getting drunk doesn’t suit me anymore. I used to be a funny drunk, but now I am not a nice person in that way. I’m not a nice person when I’m drunk. That’s what I have realised. I know that when I’ve been drinking I have been verbally abusive to some people, especially on the phone. I have apologised to those people. It’s given me a big incentive to not want to get drunk or gamble.

I’m 58 years old, it’s taken me a long long time to realise what I’ve got to do. Football was easy, but I’m taking control now. I’ve got to stop getting drunk. I haven’t gambled for a while either. The combination of the two has ruined some of my life, but I have the opportunity to get it back a bit. If I don’t go and get drunk or gamble, and get some work in, I’ll be happier. I want to be happy and I want to make other people happy. I’ve got to be strong with myself. I’ve got to do it myself. I’ve got to be stronger.

The last few years I’ve not been strong enough. I took drinking and gambling as the easy way out. It makes me forget. My life, all the things that life throws at you, when I was drinking I could forget it. I’d get drunk and that’s why I’d get drunk the next day. People have said to me “Ken, you’ve got so much to give”, but I couldn’t see it. But I feel better and I’m hoping this time that it’s going to work. I really hope in myself . When you have addictions, it’s not that easy. I just hope I can carry on being positive and can get people back on my side. I want to say thank you to all the people that have helped me.

By me having a clearer mind on my drinking, I have been interested by the stories about Wayne Rooney’s drinking. To me it looks like he was at the bar till late, he wanted a drink and to relax. They might have been talking football. I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. If Wayne has a drinking problem, only he and his family will know. If he does, I’d expect it would come out in the next month or so. I think the Rooney incident has possibly been blown out of proportion. The combination of his form for United and England and the drinking has come together to make the story a lot bigger than if it was someone playing very well. Maybe the story wouldn’t have been as big, if it had been a player on top form. Hopefully he has good people around him, that are not letting him be affected by it.

Rooney was drinking after the game, we used to drink before games! Now it gets in the press. When we used to do it, it was very rarely in the press. When I started to play for England, I didn’t drink. When I joined the squad, I heard a story about Trevor Brooking. We would meet on a Sunday, have dinner and our team meeting and then go to the pub for a few drinks. The story goes that one of the players, maybe Terry McDermott, said to Brooking “What do you want to drink Trevor?” Trevor said “I’ll have a Coke.” So we asked him “Do you want anything in it?” Meaning vodka, or gin. “Oh, yes please. I’ll have ice.” That’s what it was like, it was a boys’ night out.

Once I was an established member of the England squad, we’d often have a drink after the game and on the plane home. That was mostly relaxation. Some maybe had a few more than others, but generally most of the players would have a few drinks and it wouldn’t be a problem. It was more about bonding, having enjoyed the match.

I think Gareth Southgate has done very well. He’ll need to address our mistakes, in defence, as obviously better teams will beat you. You can’t be perfect, but you have to make as few mistakes as you can. Southgate has good experience with the Under-21s, but he has things to address defensively. We have talented young players. We need the experienced players, like Hart and Rooney, to get the most out of them. When Fabregas was at Arsenal as a youngster, he had the likes of Henry, Pires and Bergkamp around him. Southgate needs to get the best players helping the youngsters. They need experience around them. I think Gareth will do a good job.

I thought the performance against Scotland was okay and the three goals were fantastic. It was a great win, 3-0 against your biggest rivals. They will always add 10-15% more to their game. There were some nerves. It’s alright to be nervous, I used to get nervous. It made me feel that I wanted to concentrate more and didn’t want to make mistakes. But if a whole team is nervous, that can ruin your performance. Scotland did have chances. That’s a worry, as without disrespect, England are a much stronger team, but at 1-0 nerves played their part for England.

Spain was also a good performance. We were in control at 2-0. Whereas Spain took their chances, Scotland didn’t. We took our foot off the gas. If you’re 2-0 up, keep the ball. You don’t have to go for 3-0, but make them chase you, don’t give it up. It’s a great training session to get reserves to put the first team under pressure, to train players to get used to handling pressure. That’s a great session for learning how to have two or three passes available to you.

In terms of Arsenal, I think Utd v Arsenal will be a great game. Utd have great individuals, but Arsenal have a great team. If United’s individuals turn it on, they could win, but Arsenal have more consistency. The match could come down to the managers! How the managers take this on and set their teams could be crucial. This is how they get their money. I don’t think the two managers love each other, but I do suspect Mourinho and Wenger do have mutual respect. Mourinho has complained about Wenger getting a lot of respect and him not getting enough. But first you have to respect yourself.

It’s a massive match. Arsenal have a great chance I believe to win the title. They’re passing the ball quickly and getting the crosses in. You don’t know what will happen. Like when Chelsea beat United 4-0. Arsenal could put United under pressure. I think Arsenal have a great chance this year.

I’m going to Palace v Man City and it’s a massive game for both teams. I imagine Palace might settle for a draw, City will expect to win. City have players to win matches, but Palace have started very well this season. They’re doing what I really wanted them to do, they’re getting lots of crosses in. They’ve got Benteke in and I’ve seen him saying to the wingers “Get the crosses in”. If Palace can keep getting crosses in, they can put City under pressure. They have to do it to win the game.

I’ve really enjoyed putting this blog together and showing you how well I’m doing. I’m enjoying the season and I intend to do more blogs like these as the season progresses.