Tony Adams to provide safe haven for alcoholic and drug-addict footballers

Tony Adams had spoken and written a lot about his road to redemption from a life of alcohol abuse. Now the Arsenal and England footballer intends to use his experience to run a treatment centre for fellow players hooked on drinks, drugs and gambling.

Tony Adams had spoken and written a lot about his road to redemption from a life of alcohol abuse. Now the Arsenal and England footballer intends to use his experience to run a treatment centre for fellow players hooked on drinks, drugs and gambling.

Mr Adams, who is expected to be named England's new captain to replace Alan Shearer tomorrow says the venture is an altruistic attempt to provide a safe haven where big-name, big-money stars can get help away from prying eyes.

The man once known for wild drinking binges with fellow players including Paul Merson, believes a centre of the type he plans could have been of great help to him and other stars such as George Best, Diego Maradona, Jimmy Greaves and Paul Gascoigne.

He said yesterday: "I have seen many players come to the end of their careers before they do anything about their problem. I wish I had got recovery 10 years ago."

The 12-bedroom centre is to open in the next 18 months. Mr Adams will invest his own money and will also get financial support from a wealthy backer he refuses to name.

The 33-year-old England centre-half served a jail sentence in 1992 for drink-driving after he crashed. Now he has not touched alcohol for four years. His autobiography, Addicted, sold 400,000 copies and his favourite pastime is said to be reading Shakespeare and playing the piano.

The clinic will be modelled on Crossroads, the rehabilitation centre started in the Caribbean island of Antigua by rock star Eric Clapton who had struggled with cocaine and alcohol addiction.

Mr Adams believes his treatment centre will have the edge over rival ones such as the £3,000-a-week Priory in Roehampton, south-west London, which has become a well- known "cure centre" for troubled sports stars and the glitterati. He said: "A lot of players are reluctant to come forward because of the stigma attached to addiction and because they think it will damage their careers. Managers might be more willing to let their players go to a centre like this."

The clinic will have a physiotherapists, a football pitch, a weight and fitness room and an indoor pool. Regular attendance at AA, Narcotics, Gamblers and Overeaters Anonymous would be mandatory.

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