Once hailed as one of England’s next stars, it was confirmed this week that Michael Johnson was officially released from his club, Manchester City. Involved in an off-field battle with a drink problem, the 24-year-old was twice arrested for drink-driving offences last year, landing him with a three-year ban and £5,500 fine.
Despite conscious efforts to fulfil their duty to care for their employee, Johnson’s lifestyle outside of football (as well as a string of injuries), was cause for too much concern for the club. The emergence of a picture (left) on social networking site, Twitter, this Monday prompted City to confirm that he had been released by his hometown club, three-and-a-half years after his last appearance.
Suffering from a problem that may frustrate those who do not understand it, the youngster’s battle with alcohol is a serious issue. That said, it is warming to hear that his employers supported him in his struggle until his release.
In an interview with the Manchester Evening News Johnson said: “I am more disappointed than anyone but that’s the way it goes.
“I have been attending the Priory Clinic for a number of years now with regard to my mental health and would be grateful if I could now be left alone to live the rest of my life.”
We wish Michael all the best for the future.
This story led us to think about all the tubby footballers down the line who let themselves go a bit towards the end of their careers. You know the ones, the guys who enjoy a pint and a pasty whilst their teammates chow down on a slice of half-time orange. Here they are in all their buoyant beauty in our collage of football’s plumpest players.
(Top row from left: Dean Windass, Ronaldinho, Farenc Puskas, Neville Southall, Ivan Campo, Ronaldo; Second row: Adriano, Ritchie Humphreys, Andy Reid, William “Fatty” Foulke, Neil Ruddock; Third row: Micky Quinn, Tomas Brolin, Francis Lee, Jan Molby, Diego Maradona, Niel Shipperley; Fourth row: Adam Proudlock, Jim Stannard, Kevin Pressman, John Hartson, Sammy Lee, Darren Caskey; Bottom row: John Barnes, Mark Bosnich, Matt Le Tissier, Sean Gregan, Jon Parkin.)