Soccer Star Needs Alcohol Awareness Class

by: Mike Miller

Nobody is immune from the virulent talons of alcohol and drug addiction. The brightest minds and best athletes often fall victim to addiction. Such is the case with British soccer star Jeff Whitley.

The former Manchester City and Northern Ireland midfielder, Whitley has spoken in depth about his battle with alcohol and cocaine.

The 32-year-old is now sober after a spell at the Sporting Chance clinic. His words are sobering.

"I'd been on humongous benders. It wasn't just alcohol, it was cocaine and a mixture of other drugs," he said.

"The cocaine just enabled me to drink more. From being so drunk, to then having some cocaine, and then being able to go another two or three days."

As a youngster his family moved to Wrexham from Zambia and, along with brother Jim, he played in the Wrexham Youth League before being taken on as a trainee at Manchester City.

Whitley revealed it was during his time at Cardiff between 2005 and 2008 that he first began to experiment with cocaine.

"I remember Dave Jones [Cardiff manager at the time] at one point said to me 'Jeff don't come in but we'll still pay you' [because of his drinking]," Whitley told B.

"I never took any other drug apart from alcohol and cigarettes when I was playing at the time.

"When Dave Jones said that to me I thought 'I've never tried cocaine, I'd give it a blast' and when I did I thought 'wow, this is what I'm missing'.

"I was hooked that quick. If you're an addict you can get hooked on computer games, texting, eating... it don't matter what it is.

"When it comes to class A drugs then you're in trouble."

Having a Belfast-born father, Whitley was eligible to play for Northern Ireland and represented the country 20 times.

An occasion when his drinking binges did catch up with him was on the eve of an international game in 2005, when along with Philip Mulryne, they broke a team curfew to go drinking.

How Bad Can It Get?

"The only time I would go to sleep was when my body shut down," said. "At times I would just be praying just to die. I was throwing up blood at times and waking up with urine and the rest of it in the bed and all my back was in agony."

Whitley is now sober and looking forward to the rest of his life. A man with strong passions and convictions can be easy prey for addictive substances. It has happened time and time again. One of the most famous soccer players arrested for cocaine abuse was Argentina’s Diego Maradona.