Michael Johnson has revealed mental health problems were behind his sad exit from Manchester City.
The 24-year-old, once heralded as the ‘new Colin Bell’ and tipped to be a future England star, was released by the Premier League champions after a series of off-field incidents.
After a picture was posted revealing a bloated and unfit Johnson in a Manchester takeaway shop, City officials publicly confirmed that he had been released from his contract at the Etihad, due to expire at the end of the season.
In an interview with the Manchester Evening News, Johnson disclosed how mental health issues had hastened his fall from grace and he had been receiving treatment in the Priory as part of his rehabilitation.
He 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."
Johnson made his debut in 2006 but rose to prominence under Eriksson in the 2007-08 campaign, scoring the winner enriched with elegance against Derby County in the first home fixture of the season.
The midfielder never did earn a full England cap, but this breakthrough campaign along with two caps at under-21 level denoted he was not far off it.
As an indication of his potential he signed a five-year contract with the club in 2008, cooling interest from Liverpool, and while he began the new season strongly a recurrence of an abdominal injury saw him make just one further appearance that season.
He began the 2009-10 campaign fit and back in Mark Hughes’ first-team plans yet Johnson’s development was curtailed again after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in training, meaning he featured just twice that season and not at all the following campaign.
His last appearance for Manchester City came in September 2009, scoring in a 5-1 League Cup victory over Scunthorpe.
In 2011/12, he linked up with Eriksson at Leicester on a season-long loan in a bid to reignite his career but was sent back in January last year, with 18 minths left on his contract at the Etihad.
Johnson had slipped from the reckoning at the Etihad and was nowhere to be seen during the club’s Premier League title celebrations with Roberto Mancini’s team last season.
He was twice arrested for drink-driving last year, leading to a three-year driving ban and fines totaling £5,500 as his off the field struggles took their toll.
Nevertheless the club’s warmth for Johnson never wavered and the fact that City did not formally announce their decision to terminate Johnson's contract in December says much for their affection for of the club’s once exceptional talent.