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.

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
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.

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments