Former Yeovil Town midfielder Gary Roberts has taken the first step towards dealing with his off the field demons by admitting that he is an alcoholic, who also has a gambling addiction. The former Crewe Alexandra player had his contract terminated by the Glovers just before the start of the season due to an incident associated with the club's Family Fun Day.
Today's Guardian newspaper reports what had been on the rumourmill and presumably has now been owned up to by Roberts himself - that he arrived at the event "with the stench of alcohol on his breath". Our understanding is that Roberts had been the subject of other previous disciplinary incidents at the club and that this was the final straw on a day when the first team would be out on full display for an open training session. Roberts was sent home and subsequently had his contract terminated by the club by mutual consent.
Despite the chain of events, the Chester-born player says that he does not blame manager Terry Skiverton for his actions, nor Crewe bosses Dario Gradi and Steve Holland for their decision to allow him to leave Crewe over similar issues:
"I don't hold any bitterness towards him [Skiverton]. Like with Dario and Steve at Crewe, it's not the manager's responsibility to sort my problems out. Only I can do that."
The sorting out will entail Roberts booking himself in for a 26 day residential stay with the Sporting Chance clinic set up by former England player Tony Adams eight years ago, following his own experiences as an alcoholic. Roberts admits to the paper that he needs to do this for the sake of his own career:
"I'm looking forward to sorting my life out. I know clubs won't take a chance on players who have addictions because they don't want that culture developing in their dressing room. That's why I want to get clean – my dream remains to be a top pro. I know I have the talent to play in the Championship at the very least as I've done it before and the aim is to get there sooner rather than later. I also want to become a proper dad to my son. I want him to be proud of me and give him the best life possible, which I can only do through football. I really can't believe what's happened to me. What's happened to my life."
The Guardian Article runs through Roberts' life and paints a rather predictable tale that has been common to English footballers like Paul Gascoigne - a poor upbringing, a sudden excess of money, the endless trips down the bookies, the numerous hangers-on who want a slice of his money and fame, the problems of living in a hotel room away from family that gradually escalated into dressing room disharmony and the off the field problems over-spilling into his playing career. You can read it all in full via the link at the foot of this article.
Our understanding is that Yeovil Town did offer Roberts help for his problems whilst he was under contract at Huish Park but at that time he declined the offer. We're therefore pleased that he has now changed his mind and is prepared to seek the help that he needs. There is a light at the end of the tunnel for him. One Scottish Premier League club and one League Two side are prepared to offer him a trial if he can prove his mental and physical well-being. We wish him the very best of luck in achieving that - he is far too talented a player to allow his career to go to waste, but needs to grasp this 'Sporting Chance' with both hands.
Link: Guardian Website: Gary Roberts wrecked his Yeovil career but now has a Sporting Chance.
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