Ferdinand admits it took time to realise the perils of his life 'on the lash'

The England captain speaks out about the harmful effects of drinking

The more we discover about the life and times of Andy Carroll, the more it would seem that if he did not exist then Viz magazine would be obliged to create him.

He is, among other things, the most unrepentantly old-school footballer of current times. He drinks, he gets in bother and he appears on the front page of the News of the World, and even though this 6ft 3in tower of trouble from Newcastle United did not utter a single word yesterday he still found himself centre-stage.

Carroll is yet to speak in a public capacity as an England footballer, much less strike a ball or win a header in the cause of the senior team. That will come tonight. But yesterday he was the key topic of discussion as Fabio Capello and his captain Rio Ferdinand came to discuss the problem with Carroll: a 21-year-old footballer who is rapidly re-defining the standard for the bad boys of English football.

That Ferdinand was prepared to question Carroll's refuelling habits – his last front-page misadventure had him on an all-night drinking session after the 5-1 defeat of Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby that finished at 5.45am in a McDonald's – suggested that even he was taken aback. As a former offender in that arena himself, the defender tends to rein himself in when it comes to judging others. But there was no stopping the England captain yesterday when he warned Carroll, in the lingua franca of the very best Premier League carousers that there was "no room in the game to go out on the lash and get smashed like you used to."

The strength of Ferdinand's criticism, and Capello's openness about the need for Carroll to change his lifestyle, demonstrated the extent to which the striker has set the alarm bells ringing even among his typically nonchalant fellow professionals. Like Carroll there have been players on bail before and, like Carroll, there have been players on assault charges before, but few have had a private life that says "loose cannon" quite so obviously.

For his part, Ferdinand has had some tabloid escapades of his own including, but not limited to, the infamous Ayia Napa sex video and the drink-driving conviction that delayed him getting his England debut. But he has never strayed quite as close to the edge as Carroll, with his car burnt out on the drive of team-mate Kevin Nolan, has in the last 12 months.

Ferdinand has always defended the right of modern footballers to enjoy themselves – and he has been the prime mover in some infamous occasions when they have done so – but yesterday was an appeal to Carroll's sporting integrity. Comparing his own bad habits to those of Michael Owen in their early years, Ferdinand said for all the complications in the rest of his life it would ultimately be Carroll's performance that suffered.

"There are so many different factors that determine whether you become a top player, but going out drinking will definitely be to your detriment and will hold you back from being a top, top player," he said. "I don't think people need to live like monks. It's about managing yourself properly and going out at the correct times.

"If you have a game in midweek, I don't see the point of having a drink on the Saturday. Why are you going out for a drink? It took me a long time to understand that, but I've been down that road. Some of the kids look at you and ask why you're saying things like that, but when you get to 28 or 29, you'll realise and wish: 'If only I didn't drink at 21, I might have got up the ladder a bit quicker.'

"Looking back, the Nevilles [Gary and Phil] – people used to laugh at them, saying they were 'so professional' and this and that, but they were good professionals at a young age. Look at the length of their careers now.

"It [drinking] is part of the social network. As a footballer, you have to detach yourself from that. It can be hard if you've been brought up like that. It's not just football, it's in society. Kids have to make decisions and choices in life. Just because you're a young footballer doesn't mean you're more mature. You've got to make yourself more mature. It doesn't just happen."

Capello has had to readjust to the peculiarities of English footballers during almost three years in charge of the national team but even the Italian has never had to warn a player before he has even been capped. If the England manager is to pin any kind of long-term faith in Carroll, much less take him to Euro 2012 – if England qualify – then he will have to know that the player can be trusted.

With a court date looming in January and his eventful private life, it can easily be overlooked that Carroll still has to prove himself at international level tonight. It does not get much tougher than this. He will be expected to lead the line in a 4-2-3-1 formation against France, one of the best football nations in the world. This will not be his only chance but if, ultimately, he falls short of the standard required, all the warnings about his drinking and his private life will be incidental.

"I have to see Carroll play like the game he played against Arsenal," Capello said. "I monitored him. He played very well. He received the ball very well, his movement was good, he attacked the space well, he was fantastic in the air. I hope he plays the same quality of game that he played against Arsenal."

The comic-strip quality to Carroll makes him an intriguing figure, if not always an admirable one. And, befitting all good footballers, his talent will dictate that he is afforded plenty of second chances. But tonight is one of those significant occasions which even he, with his apparent indifference to life's ups and downs, must acknowledge.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick