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Monday, 21 August, 2000, 07:42 GMT 08:42 UK
Adams plans addiction centre
Tony Adams
Tony Adams: Won his battle against addiction
England footballer Tony Adams has announced plans to open an addiction centre for soccer players.

The Arsenal captain believes existing rehabilitation programmes do not cater for the needs of sportsmen.

The Football Association welcomed the move, saying it would be interested in backing anything that would help players who had a problem.

Adams, 33, won his own battle with alcoholism and has just celebrated four years without a drink.

I want to provide a safe place, a place of hope and trust
  Tony Adams
He outlined his battle against alcohol in his best-selling book Addicted.

Adams said he wants to create a safe haven where big-name stars can get specialist help with their problems away from the limelight.

"I want to provide a safe place, a place of hope and trust," he told The Observer newspaper.

He said he thought a lot of players were reluctant to face up to their addictions because of the stigma attached to it and because they think it will damage their careers.

Unnamed backer

"I think managers and clubs might also be more willing to let their players go to a centre like this," he said.

Adams aims to open a 12-bed centre within the next 18 months.

He will invest his own money in the project and has also received a promise of financial backing from an unnamed wealthy sympathiser.

The clinic would be loosely based on Crossroads, the rehabilitation centre set up in Antigua by rock star Eric Clapton.

Tony Adams book Addicted
Addicted: Tony Adams' best-selling book
Alan Hodson, chief medical officer for the Football Association, said Adams was proposing quite a different approach for dealing with addiction.

"Given his profile and given that he knows the pressures that professional footballers are under, we had quite a comprehensive chat when he expressed his interest about being able to help," he said.

The Professional Footballers Association said footballers can fall prey to problems such as drink, drugs and gambling because they live their lives in the public eye.

Brendon Batson, deputy chief executive of the PFA, said: "They are living their lives in a goldfish bowl where they have to take care where they go.

"From a young age they are sometimes splashed on the front pages and need a protective arm around them to help them cope with the early stages of fame."

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