BBC SPORT Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese

BBC Sport
 You are in: Football  
Sport Front Page
FA Cup
Eng Prem
Champions League
Uefa Cup
Eng Div 1
Eng Div 2
Eng Div 3
Eng Conf
Scot Prem
Scottish Cup
Scot Div 1
Scot Div 2
Scot Div 3
League of Wales
Rugby Union
Rugby League
Other Sports
Special Events
Sports Talk
BBC Pundits
TV & Radio
Question of Sport
Photo Galleries
Funny Old Game
Around The UK: 
N Ireland

BBC Sport Academy
BBC News
BBC Weather

Thursday, 22 August, 2002, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
Avoiding the pitfalls of pints and nights out
Gary Mabbutt
"English football culture has changed," says Mabbutt

How tough is it for footballers to go out and enjoy themselves without getting into trouble?

In the wake of the high-profile court cases involving Leeds' Jonathan Woodgate and Lee Bowyer and Chelsea's John Terry and Jody Morris, the off-pitch behaviour of young stars has become headline news.

Former Spurs and England defender Gary Mabbutt, who played over 630 games in English football's highest division, says players have to be aware of their responsibilities at all times.

Gary Mabbutt in action for England
Mabbutt's reputation was spotless
"A lot of players are young people who want to go out and have a few drinks - but wherever they go, successful sportsmen are going to be recognised," Mabbutt told BBC Sport Online.

"It's worse where perhaps too much drink has been had. There will always be supporters of other clubs that might want to have a jibe.

"It's harder when the fans have had too much to drink and you've only had a couple.

"Their tongues tend to loosen - but that's the time to get up with your friends and find somewhere else to go.

"In the last couple of years there have been a couple of very serious incidents, and that should make players realise that they have to be in control of their actions at all times.

"To go out and get totally drunk and out of control puts you at risk of things happening.

"If you're in control of yourself and something happens, you can walk away and get yourself out of that situation before it develops."

Rules to follow

Mabbutt revealed that football authorities set strict guidelines for footballers to follow.

"Clubs don't treat players with kid gloves. They expect them to behave in a manner that becomes their position," he said.

"Every club will have a law in place that you are not allowed on licensed premises two days before a game.

"If you're playing on the Saturday, you're not allowed in pubs or bars from Thursday onwards.

Players know certain places where they will be treated more normally
Gary Mabbutt
"There's nothing wrong with a player going out on the Saturday night after a game if they haven't got a game until the following Wednesday.

"Someone might phone the club and say, 'I saw Gary Mabbutt in a pub at 1am, and he'd had a few glasses of wine,' - but if that's on a Saturday night after a game, the club will say, 'So what?'"

"If the chap's lying on the floor or reacting to every bit of abuse, that's different.

"As a professional sportsman, you have to make sure you are 100% fit.

"It's tough - you're a young successful player with money in your pocket and you want to go out and have a good time.

"But that restraint has to be there. Ultimately the person who is going to suffer the most is the player himself."

Asking for abuse

In practical terms, this means that footballers have to pick and choose their social destinations with great care.

"Players know certain places where they will be treated more normally," said Mabbutt.

"They're not silly. They realise that if you're a Liverpool player, you're not going to go out in an area full of Everton supporters.

John Terry shoots for Chelsea
Terry was accused of starting a fight outside a nightclub
"That would be asking for abuse, asking to have your self-restraint pushed to the limit."

Are today's players more badly behaved than their predecessors? Mabbutt doesn't think so.

"The English drinking culture that may have been around has changed with the introduction of foreign players and coaches," he said.

"When overseas players first arrived, they were shocked at the drinking, but players in this country have learnt a lot.

"Going out and having a few beers is not something they do on the continent, and things are improving in England as a result.

"Players are far more conscious of their health and that fact that they will be in the public eye wherever they go."

Gary Mabbutt
"Players must be able to keep control"
See also:

16 Aug 02 | England
14 Aug 02 | England
05 Aug 02 | England
Links to more Football stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Football stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

Sport Front Page | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League |
Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Other Sports |
Special Events | Sports Talk | BBC Pundits | TV & Radio | Question of Sport |
Photo Galleries | Funny Old Game | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales