Ross Barkley has addressed two videos that were sold to newspapers showing him in embarrassing off-field situations and he admits that he has learned a “big lesson” from a pivotal career moment.
The 26-year-old returned to the pitch after a long spell out at Chelsea and scored in the 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest before answering questions on off-the-pitch issues that have become a talking point.
Frank Lampard has been critical of his midfielder in recent weeks, but also sympathetic that footballers get little privacy in the modern world of mobile phone cameras and social media.
The first video showed Barkley supposedly in an argument with a taxi driver in Liverpool after spilling chips in the vehicle, while the second clip showed Barkley dancing topless in a Dubai nightclub on holiday.
The England international was remorseful over the recent incidents and admitted that the videos painted him in a bad light.
"Yeah, [I learned] a big lesson," Barkley said at Stamford Bridge. "You've got to be aware of your surroundings when you let your hair down, for any player out there. You've just got to be aware of what’s around you. It's just more about being with the right company and in private.
"When you play in the Premier League, you're a high profile player, so it's about keeping low-key and switched on. When you're on holiday or away, you need the right people around you.
"I've made that mistake and it won’t happen again but I'm sure it'll happen to young players in the future. We all make mistakes but it's about being aware. It's that 10 seconds when you're not looking like a professional when you've got to let your hair down but then you can’t forget about your job.
"It was unfortunate of me to get caught in that position and it will happen many times to players over the years because you know what phones are like nowadays. I am just keeping my head down and it won’t happen again.
"It is [a bit sad that footballers don't have privacy]. Back in the day, players wouldn’t have to think about things like that but you can’t forget people want to make you look bad. I am a very professional player but that 10 seconds doesn’t make you look professional.
"That’s just the way football is now with phones. You have to adapt to the way things are now."
Barkley's off-field conduct isn't the main reason for his absence from Chelsea's team in recent weeks, with a painful foot injury keeping him from the field.
Still, the Blues have got by without the midfielder, who is in a renewed battle to convince Lampard that he can start for Chelsea against Premier League opposition - and of course for Gareth Southgate with England's Euro 2020 participation on the horizon.
Barkley appreciates Lampard's sympathy amid the videos being posted online and believes that the former midfielder's own playing career has made him an understanding manager and role model for the current generation of Chelsea stars.
"Yes, [he is] really supportive," Barkley concluded. "Everyone makes mistakes. When you make mistakes, you've got to learn from them. I'm 26 now and I understand when you make a mistake, learn from them and move on. He was really supportive.
"Yes, he definitely [gets it]. Lampard was one of the best players in the world and I am sure when he was a player he liked to let his hair down at the right times. He fully understands in his day that there was none of that.
"It more that people want to make you look bad, but it is in my hands and other players hands to not be in that position."