Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Personal Demons

West Ham wide boy Matthew Etherington last night admitted he "hit rock bottom" because of his much publicised gambling addictions. The winger spent a week in the renowned Sporting Chance clinic undergoing treatment for his gambling habit last season and blew tens of thousands of pounds on horses, greyhounds and in card schools - and even owned up that he could not remember the last day when he did not have a bet. Etherington, 26, was left in total despair as his gambling addiction spiralled out of control at the end of 2006 writes John Cross in today's Mirror. While the majority of the Hammers' stars were driving round in Baby Bentleys and enjoying all the trappings of being Premier League stars, Etherington was in a VW Golf fearing that his Upton Park career was over.

Alan Curbishley was forced to impose a gambling ban on his first-team squad as keeper Roy Carroll also went into rehab, while high stakes late-night card schools ripped team spirit apart. Teddy Sheringham, viewed as a key disruptive influence, was increasingly marginalised to the periphery of team affairs. Curbishley was so desperate to break up the dressing room culture that he inherited that he attempted to sell Etherington in January and the ex-Tottenham winger also nearly left this summer with a reported strong interest from Derby County. But Etherington has gone a long way to earning a reprieve from Curbishley, fighting his way back from the brink of disaster to reclaim full fitness, form and a place into the first team- culminating with the two-goal display in Saturday's win at Reading. "I did hit rock bottom last season and it was probably a reflection on my form," confessed Etherington. "I didn't play anywhere near my best. I realise that and I am sure a lot of other people realise that. I let myself down and I realise that. I hold my hands up, but I dealt with it and all that's behind me now and I'm looking forward. I've made a great step forward. You have got to maintain that and keep on the right side of it. I am more than over that, more than happy in my life now. I wasn't happy last year but I moving on and hopefully will keep taking the right steps."

Etherington is convinced that the experiences of last season, as well as pulling things together to beat the drop on the final day of the campaign, will serve as a personal and collective wake-up call. "I suppose you get a time in your career where things don't go right for you and last year was one of those years. This season is a new season, a new start for me and I've started off well. Hopefully I can move on to even bigger and better things. I've had a very good pre-season. I knew I'd have a lot of competition for my place and I've just worked really hard, kept my head down and hopefully I can keep up this form and push on. I know I have the ability and I've just got to try to maintain it and not take things for granted." Last season, states Cross, West Ham was a viper's nest full of egos, poor discipline and under-performing players. "How we got out of what we did last season I don't know," muses Etherington. "It was unbelievable. Our run at the end of the season was title-winning form. This year is a matter of doing it week-in, week-out and we know we can do it because we've got a lot of quality now. If we do, then we should finish in the top half of the table."

Speaking about players with personal problems Inter Milan striker Adriano, whose £125,000-a-week wage demands priced him out of a move to Manchester City and West Ham United, has been accused of spending his money on a playboy lifestyle. According to an article in the Mail, Brazilian Adriano has informed West Ham that he would reconsider a loan move to the Premier League in January. Yet Alan Curbishley may be more than perturbed to hear reports from Italy that claim the striker has been dropped from Inter's Champions League squad, with his poor form blamed on his party lifestyle. Adriano is alleged to be spending £28,000 a week living in the suite of a five-star Milan hotel, despite having a home on the outskirts of the city, and partying. His drinking has already cost him club fines and suspensions for missing training. Adriano has admitted having a booze problem. He is quoted in the paper as saying: "I like going to nightclubs and discos and try to get rid of my problems through alcohol." Sounds like he could fit right in.

Another player with time on his hands is Kieron Dyer. He is back at home in Ipswich recovering from surgery and is trying to remain positive and focused. Speaking on the official site, Dyer said: "I've been trying to stay as positive as I can. The physios and the specialist were really pleased with how the operation went and said there is no reason why I shouldn't make a full recovery. I am just focusing on that for now and getting some rest before I hopefully beginning my rehab and treatment some time next week. They don't really give exact time scales with this type of injury because some people heal a lot quicker than others and there can be complications when you have screws put in so you just have to play it by ear really, but as I said I am staying positive and just focusing on being back and playing for West Ham sooner rather than later."

Dyer was touched by the support he received from his team-mates and fans during his stay in hospital. "Nearly every single member of the squad came to see me and a lot of the staff as well, which was brilliant and really gave me a lift considering I have only been at the Club a short space of time," he said. "I was passed a lot of the messages that the fans have been sending in as well saying how gutted they all are for me and wishing me well which really meant a lot to me too. I knew straight away that I had broken both bones which is why my hand went straight up into the air and as I hit the floor my leg was just wobbling from side to side so I knew it was a break as opposed to anything else. It actually wasn't as painful as it probably looked to other people as my body went into shock so that was a blessing in disguise in a way, but I knew I would be out for several months which was just devastating really."

A lot has been written already, questioning whether Dyer will indeed return from this injury and be the same sort of player again but he is quick to assure people he still has a long career ahead of him. "That is definitely not the case and I am determined to prove those people wrong. As I said before, the doctors were delighted with how the operation went and if there are any consolations to this, they did explain to me that the best place to break your leg is in the middle of the shin because there are usually more complications when it is closer to the ankle, like what happened to Dean Ashton, but my break has happened in a much safer place. If you look at a player like Djibril Cisse, who used to play for Liverpool, he had exactly the same injury as me and he has obviously come back and made a full recovery, which holds me in good stead as I plan to do exactly the same and be back playing for West Ham and England."

Finally, Darren Bent has quashed suggestions he rejected a summer move to West Ham in order to avoid working under Alan Curbishley again. The Hammers agreed a deal with Charlton for the striker's services, although the 23-year-old opted for a move to White Hart Lane. It had been claimed Bent rejected West Ham as he did not fancy renewing his acquaintance with Curbishley, although that theory has been steadfastly denied. "That's a load of rubbish," Bent told Sky Sports News. "I don't know where that's come from because I didn't speak to anyone about my situation until a couple of weeks ago. It was nothing to do with Curbs. He's a fantastic manager. He did wonders for me and made me the player I am today by giving me my opportunity. It's nothing to do with him. It was just a career decision and I chose to join Tottenham."

No comments:


Copyright 2007 ID Media Inc, All Right Reserved. Crafted by Nurudin Jauhari