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The Independent Online
IN THE country of the blind drunk, the pie-eyed man is king and Tony Adams became a remarkable monarch.

Millions of words have been written about Adams, the inspirational leader of football men who never says die, and about his traumatic personal life; the break-up of his marriage, his imprisonment for drink-driving and the admission that he was an alcoholic. But the most powerful words are his own as told to journalist Ian Ridley.

Adams obviously felt compelled as part of his ongoing therapy to record his degrading fall. There can be no other reason for such honest, painful soul-baring.

His story should one day make a powerful film, perhaps another Lost Weekend. For Adams, several weekends were lost due to his astonishing Sunday drinking habits: a typical session consisted of about 20 pints of Guinness down the pub, topped up with a couple of bottles of wine in the evening. Bill, the landlord, told him he was the best Guinness drinker in the pub, something Adams regarded as highly as his medals and England caps.

Bed-wetting became a regular embarrassment, highlighted during the European Championship finals of 1988 in West Germany when, after defeat by the Netherlands, some of the players drowned their sorrows. When he awoke next morning, Adams discovered his bed was soaked and a chambermaid was standing, holding her nose and saying: "Pee pee." He was ashamed but not enough at that stage to stop drinking. The story of his eventual recovery is remarkable, but tinged with what might have been. As his manager, Arsene Wenger, told him: "Tony, I cannot believe how you achieved everything you have with the way you abused your body and your mind. You have played to only 70 per cent of your capacity."

Humour is sprinkled around Adams' dark story. He recalls the journey to prison in 1990 when a fellow convict being transferred with him remarked: "This has really capped my day. I'm a Tottenham fan and I get 'cuffed to you. What a nightmare." Tony Adams knows all about nightmares.