Paul Parker

Why P-U-B spells trouble

Paul Parker

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The cases of Robinho and Steven Gerrard demonstrate the pitfalls of going out for modern footballers.

Whether they did anything wrong or not - and both men strenuously deny the claims made against them - it has become difficult for players to visit a pub or a club without some sort of trouble developing.

There is so much attention devoted to footballers by the media and the public that they simply cannot go out like they did in my time.

When I was a player, we used to go out to bars and nightclubs and it was very rarely a problem.

People might come up to you and say hello but then they would leave you alone, and players were able to mingle more. On the rare occasion that trouble did occur, it was kept under control and it never made it into the papers.

At United we would sometimes go out on a Sunday, visit some pubs in Manchester and have a few drinks.

We didn't cut ourselves off from people and there was a degree of mutual respect, so we very rarely had any problems. But you can imagine the fuss if Rooney, Ronaldo and company did the same thing nowadays.

A gap has developed between players and the fans. If they rope themselves off in a nightclub's VIP area they get criticised for being Big-time Charlies, but if they try to mix in with people that often leads to trouble.

Modern footballers are treated more like pop stars. Everybody wants a piece of them, and any incident is blown out of all proportion. They earn so much money that people think they have a right to have a go at them.

When John Smith comes out of a nightclub, he is bound to look a bit dishevelled because he has been enjoying himself with a drink and a dance.

Footballers cannot afford to do that because there will be paparazzi flashbulbs going off as soon as they step outside. And if they do get pictured worse for wear, they are slaughtered in the press for doing the same thing that most other people do.

If you are going to have 10 years or more at the top, you more or less have to live like a vicar if you want to stay out of trouble.

Some players can do it - like Ryan Giggs, who has behaved himself ever since Alex Ferguson went round Lee Sharpe's house in the middle of a party and gave them both the hairdryer treatment!

If he goes out it will be for a quiet drink with his friends in Swinton, where he grew up, not some massive city-centre nightclub.

The rewards from the game are massive, and when you retire with millions in the bank you can really enjoy yourself. But at the same time it is unrealistic to expect young men in their early 20s to behave like monks.

I think the best advice is to stay loyal to your real friends and not get swept up in the celebrity lifestyle. 

You need people to keep you grounded, and many of the so-called friends people accumulate after they become famous will be gone as soon as times get hard.

Paul Gascoigne used to have a big entourage and countless hangers-on. Where are they now, when he needs their support most?

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