Bannan: I won't repeat drink-driving mistake


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The Independent Football

Aston Villa midfielder Barry Bannan has admitted there would have been "no point in me living" had his drink-fuelled motorway crash resulted in any loss of life.

Bannan had an accident in his Range Rover Sport on the M1 near Watnall on 23 October whilst over the legal drink-drive limit. He fled the scene, and was arrested in a taxi office. The Scotland international, who only held a provisional licence, was fined £4,500 and banned from driving for 18 months.

Despite this, the midfielder believes he has had a lucky escape. He said: "It still goes through my head now, it was a huge mistake and I regret everything I've done. It will never happen again. As much as I regret it, I'm so lucky to be still here today.

"If I hit another car and killed someone else, then there's no point in me living, really, after the things that would be going through my head. I'm lucky to be where I am today."

Bannan was speaking as the new face of the West Midlands Police "Christmas Don't Drink and Drive Campaign", and added that he won't be tempted to repeat his mistakes this festive season. "It'll still be with me for the rest of my life in the back of my head," he said.

Villa manager Alex McLeish has backed Bannan to put the incident behind him and continue his football education. McLeish said: "He's got to now totally concentrate and be totally professional and try to make himself the best he can possibly be."

The former Scotland manager also looked to set the record straight over Darren Bent, who despite being injured, was pictured shopping whilst Villa were taking on Liverpool on Sunday. McLeish believes the club have moved on from the incident, but added that Bent should have remained at home for the entire duration of the match.

He said: "The lad was told to stay at home and rest. He was in here [at the club's training ground] for three or four hours on the day of the game. I think he watched most of the game, saw that we weren't going to win it and popped out to the shops.

"He was out of the house for about an hour. A massive fuss was the result of that. If he's guilty of anything then he's guilty of that – he should have stayed for the last 10 minutes."

Meanwhile, QPR manager Neil Warnock is unsure whether Kieron Dyer's latest injury setback will prevent him from having an impact in the Premier League again. Dyer underwent foot surgery yesterday to repair ligament damage sustained during a reserve match last week and has been ruled out for the rest of the campaign. The 32-year-old former England midfielder has not played a competitive game for Rangers since the opening day of the season.

Dyer's career has been hampered by a succession of serious injuries but while Warnock insists his future is in doubt, he refuses to bet against a successful comeback. "I don't honestly know now [if he can still make an impact at this level]," he said. "I honestly don't know that. But if anyone can he can, because he's so determined.

"I thought that he might consider his future, but having spoken to him he will try to show me in pre-season that he warrants a contract. He's not money-motivated. It's not as if we have to pay him a fortune. The lad wants to play football, which is like a breath of fresh air."

Warnock met with the club's major shareholders yesterday to finalise plans for the January transfer window. QPR hope to make three to four new signings with two of them arriving on loan and Warnock is targeting hungry, young players determined to make a name for themselves.

"I'll be looking at loan players – probably people trying establish themselves at their own club," he said. "We can give a bit of experience at Premier League level that they might not get at their own clubs because at the top six or seven it is very difficult for young players to play."