Football: Adams: Why I thought about quitting the game

Exclusive: Player's lonely fight in a French retreat
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THE ARSENAL captain and England defender Tony Adams has revealed in an exclusive interview in the South of France with the Independent on Sunday that he has been considering retirement next summer. After a three-week "make or break" rehabilitation, however, he says he is now "raring to go", for the second half of the Premiership season and the World Cup finals.

"Before Christmas I was in a bad space, deep in depression," he admits. "I wasn't doing myself justice. After missing the start of the season with an ankle injury I had a 13-game spell but I was just getting by, just doing a job, which for Tony Adams is not good enough. Even in Rome, with England, I thought I only did what was needed. It was frustrating.

"It worried me a great deal. Sometimes you think, 'Hold on a minute, is it all over?' You do get that thought because of the physical pain and the inability to perform. I don't want Arsenal fans to remember me as an also-ran. They would end up booing me. They deserve a Tony Adams who is giving, wanting and doing."

The last straw for Adams was a poor performance against Blackburn Rovers last month, in which he was responsible for two goals. "It shot me out of the cannon to do something about it," he says. After discussions with the Arsenal coach, Arsene Wenger, Adams embarked on a three-week programme which culminated last week in five days of intensive fitness work with a specialist French conditioning coach based at a health spa near Nice.

"I knew it was going to be make or break for me," said Adams. "It was reminiscent of before Euro 96 when I played for England in China. For the first couple of days it was so tough and we were trying to break my ankle, basically. I could have gone home with a broken ankle but it took the test.

"I can't wait to get back and show everyone that I am 100 per cent. Arsenal come first but over the next month it would be nice to work towards the England match against Chile on 11 February. I think people will be surprised. A few players are going to be very jealous with the way there is a spring in my step in January." Now Adams will come back into contention for a place in Arsenal's FA Cup replay at Port Vale on Wednesday and is almost certain to play at Coventry on Saturday.

In addition to his response to criticism that, at 31, he is a spent force and can no longer inspire a team, Adams, a recovering alcoholic, also responds to the rumours that he has been drinking again.

Full interview, page 22