Page last updated at 17:27 GMT, Tuesday, 19 May 2009 18:27 UK

Ex-footballer speaks of remorse

Mark Ward
Mr Ward said he wrote a book about his experiences with in jail

An ex-Premiership footballer, who has been released from jail after serving four years for drug offences, has spoken of his "remorse".

Mark Ward has spoken out after West Bromwich Albion striker Roman Bednar was suspended by his club on Monday following claims he bought drugs after a match.

According to the News of the World, the striker purchased cocaine and cannabis from a car outside his house in Sutton Coldfield hours after West Brom beat Wigan 3-1.

Mr Ward, who served his sentence at Walton Prison in Liverpool from May 2005, said he had caused his family "four years of heartache".

"I'll always be remorseful for what's happened," the 46-year-old told BBC Radio Merseyside.

'No preparation'

Mr Ward was release from prison on 11 May after serving time for possessing drugs with intent to supply.

Almost four kilos (9lb) of cocaine was found in a house that he had rented in Prescot, Merseyside in 2005.

"Nothing could have prepared me for life in prison," said the former footballer, who has played for Everton, Manchester City and West Ham.

Roman Bednar
A Sunday newspaper claims Mr Bendar was involved in a drug deal

"Straight away it was the filth, the cockroaches, the violence, the suicides."

He described how after 17 days in prison three inmates had committed suicide on his wing.

"You get used to your conditions as you've got to be strong to survive," he said.

"In prison, you're just a number, everybody's the same and you just get on with it."

Mr Ward, who wrote a book while in prison, said he learnt how his actions hurt victims of drugs.

"It was through the victim awareness courses you do in prison and in my last year inside I worked in drug rehabilitation centres in Bootle and Merseyside," he said.

Mr Ward said footballers who dabble with drugs should take note of his experience, which he believes has spelt the end of his career in football.

"It's going to be a big, strong person who is going to employ me in football in any capacity," said Mr Ward.

"I'm prepared to start off at the bottom again."

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18 May 09 |  West Brom
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