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'I was p*ssing & sh*tting myself' - Adams says helping fellow athletes with addictions eclipses lifting any trophy with Arsenal

11:33 PM IST 01/02/20
Tony Adams, Arsenal
The former defender enjoyed an illustrious playing career, but it is his work away from the pitch that he treasures more

Former Arsenal captain Tony Adams says the athletes he has helped via his Sporting Chance charity eclipses anything he achieved during his playing career.

The charity, which supports athletes with mental health and addiction issues, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

It was formed by Adams in 2000 following his high-profile battle with alcoholism during his playing career, which included a four-month prison setence for drink-driving in 1990.

“I needed a lot of pain,” Adams told the Guardian. “Alcohol gave me a good hiding: prison, intensive care, p*ssing myself, sh*tting myself, still not giving up. Do you know what I mean? Sleeping with people I didn’t want to sleep with.

“I have to remind myself, at the end of my drinking I did not want to live, but I didn’t know how to kill myself. I was at ‘jumping off point’, we call it. I got there, and only then was I able to ask for help.”

Adams won 13 major honours as a player including four top-flight titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups and the Cup Winners’ Cup. He also won 66 caps for England, representing the Three Lions at four major tournaments.

However, the 53-year-old says the work of Sporting Chance eclipses everything he achieved on the pitch.

“Captaining your country, going out at Wembley, captaining Arsenal to 10 trophies, playing your first game – they’re all amazing things,” he added. “But, phew, saving people’s lives takes it out of all context.

“When I was at the bottom, you see, football was off the radar. The game that I love to death, absolutely has given me everything in my life, why I’m here sitting with you guys today, is football. And I couldn’t give a f**k. It was off the agenda. The charity is the best thing I’ve ever done.”

Sporting Chance says 70 percent of patients who come to the clinic with addiction issues have a problem with gambling.

As a result Adams says football should consider banning gambling and alcohol advertising, though he stresses Sporting Chance remains neutral on the subject.

“As a charity we are not anti-gambling and not anti-drinking,” added Adams. “We are very pro athletes who want help. We are not involved in the politics of the gambling companies or sponsorship. We don’t take any sponsorship from gambling or alcohol.

“It’s not part of me. I can’t be associated with something that nearly killed me. That would be morally wrong … Ideally I would get the advertising out of the game because it does influence people.”