Harry Redknapp calls time on culture of drinking

Alcohol is the 'main problem' behind recent scandals says Spurs manager as he tells players to live the Italian way

Harry Redknapp believes that English footballers must stop drinking alcohol and copy the lifestyles of their continental counterparts to help end the succession of scandals that has gripped the domestic game since the World Cup.

Wayne Rooney and Peter Crouch are the latest to feature on a rapidly lengthening list and the Tottenham manager regards alcohol as the root cause of the problem. Redknapp says that players should "dedicate" themselves to the game over the course of what is a relatively short career and cited the example of Paolo Maldini, the former Italy and Milan captain who retired aged 40, as well as the veteran Manchester United trio of Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, as an older generation that the younger players need to try to emulate – as much off the pitch these days as on it.

England's failure in the World Cup finals in South Africa this summer has intensified the spotlight on players and there has been a string of salacious stories about Rooney and Crouch, who plays his club football for Redknapp, over the last few weeks. Jack Wilshere, the Arsenal midfielder who won his first England cap aged 18 in the post-World Cup friendly against Hungary, was left out of the England Under-21 starting line-up by Stuart Pearce last week because he was not considered to be in the right frame of mind following his arrest in the early hours of the morning for a "fracas" outside a club in west London.

"There is one main problem – it's called drink," said Redknapp yesterday. "Ninety per cent of the time these things don't happen unless players have a drink. We've all drunk – I've had a drink all my life, but these lads know that you can't do it any more. It's another world now."

Redknapp was embarrassed last year when it emerged his players had organised a Christmas party against his express wishes. At the time Redknapp said he was "shocked". He has changed his views over the years, acknowledging that he drank as a player, but is now firmly in the anti- camp. Players today, he says, should make sacrifices – and if they do, the rewards are huge if they are prepared to look after themselves and their bodies.

"Yes, now definitely [they should make sacrifices] – they have got to, otherwise we are going to keep seeing these things happening," continued Redknapp. "It is not all down to drink but a lot of it is. They should not put themselves in such positions. If they dedicate themselves for 10 years they are going to come out with so much money they never have to work again. They can live a fantastic life – they should dedicate themselves."

The culture of drink has long been ingrained in English football – and was when Redknapp was a player with West Ham United. But the increasing pace of the game and levels of fitness required from players, as well as the mushrooming attention on Premier League stars and their lifestyles away from the football field – as part of the explosion of a celebrity-driven culture – has seen his attitude change and increasingly harden. When he was manager of West Ham, he ordered that the players' post-match bar be alcohol-free.

The answer, according to Redknapp, is for British players to follow the examples of Italians in particular. "You don't see this happening to too many foreign players," said Redknapp. "I can't think of any.

"They [young players] should also look at the likes of Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. Why is Giggs playing so well at 36? He is still fit and still so fantastic. Also look at some of the Italian players, how fit they are. They are still playing Champions League football at 38, 39, 40. What an example someone like Maldini is – you have never read about him being drunk and disorderly."

Maldini spent 25 seasons at Milan and played in four World Cup finals before retiring last year. Milan have become famous for prolonging players' careers long past their perceived sell-by date – Alessandro Costacurta, too, lasted beyond his 40th birthday at San Siro – with David Beckham the latest ageing star to prosper at Milanello, the club's training ground.

Tottenham yesterday paraded their latest signing, Rafael van der Vaart. The Dutchman is married to Sylvie Meis, a model and TV presenter, and back home they top the celebrity A-list, but Van der Vaart says he has no qualms about moving to London and is certain he will stay out of public eye, off the pitch at any rate. "The only thing that counts is football," said the 27-year-old. "My private life is private and I don't like all the silly stuff. I only want to play football."

Redknapp will be hoping the Van der Vaart ethos can prove to be the dominant one in the White Hart Lane dressing room.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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.

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own