Redknapp slams drunk footballers


It is more than can be said, for Jack Grealish, the 19-year-old Aston Villa midfielder recently pictured apparently drunk and prostrate on the street in Tenerife. It was a sight that has angered 68-year-old Redknapp far more than any of the rest of football's darker side that has emerged in the last few weeks.

“He's had an excellent year, Grealish, an excellent second half of the season, plays in the Cup final and then goes and does that,” he says.

“Why do these English players have to go and get silly drunk, and lay in the street and fall over? It's all right for his mate who's doing it, who's cleaning windows, if that's the way he wants to live. But footballers, the amount of money they get, they get that money to be dedicated to their profession, to make sure that they set a good example to young kids who want to be footballers. I've got no time for players acting stupid and getting drunk, I can't have it. That stuff has every right to be in the newspapers. Young kids looking up at him, an up and coming footballer and then they see that. I can't have it.

“Not that long ago I was in the same hotel in Sardinia as [Cristiano] Ronaldo for 10 days, with my wife and family. I saw him every day. You can see he looks after himself. Has his dinner, possibly has a glass of wine, but he's not going out every night.”

Redknapp has been going out even less than usual of late. It's almost five months since he walked out on Queen's Park Rangers, leaving them two points off the bottom, citing the need for urgent knee surgery. The career-ending knee injury is football's great destroyer. Rarely does it threaten management.

“I had a micro-fracture. They had to drill through the bones, to circulate the blood around my knee and all that.” It's not the most medically precise of explanations, but in that brittle world of cruciates and meniscuses and medial collateral ligaments, it doesn't sound too serious, and he is keen to stress he has not retired.

“If something came up that was interesting I'd fancy it. Well I wouldn't mind working at a decent club somewhere, where you could help to build a club with some potential.”

It must evidently be for the sake of more than a few quid then, that here he is dressed up in his fully branded lawn bowls kit at a South London bowls club, fresh from filming a spoof ad in which he returns to management as the coach of the rather more genteel paced England Bowls Team. Has he ever played the game? “Bowls? You're joking aren't ya? Course not.”

Flexiseq, the sponsor in question are the makers of a drug-free gel that has, we are told, accelerated his possible return to the dugout, though we are not sure yet with whom that might be. “It couldn't just be anyone,” Redknapp said. You've got to work with the right people, the right chairman, someone with a bit of ambition.”

On wider matters, since Fifa's executives were dragged out of their beds in Zurich, Redknapp is not surprised that the most powerful voices in football have remained silent.

“What's gone on has been a complete scandal, it's disgusting, but it hasn't surprised anyone. It hasn't surprised me, any more than I was surprised that Jimmy Savile was a pervert, but I wouldn't say players are going to lose any sleep over it. They're not worried whether the World Cup's in Qatar or Russia or anywhere else. Even fans, they're more worried about their own clubs than they are England.”

That the English football viewing public has lost a degree of interest in the national side is hardly surprising, given the resolves of patience than have been so profoundly tested.

“I don't see many great teams in world football,” Redknapp said. “I see a lot countries with average players who wouldn't get anywhere near the England team.

“We've got to find a way of making them perform in tournaments and getting results, but man for man we're not that far behind. We underestimate the group that we've got, but they do underperform.

“There's a problem that's endemic. They don't work hard enough at their game some of these younger kids. They come into professional clubs, they think they've made it. They think, 'I've got a three or four year contract, I've made it.' They don't work hard enough.”– The Independent

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