Last updated : 17 December 2006 By Ed


"I would say that 90 per cent of them are from working class backgrounds, but they play 100 games in the Premiership, get the car and the house and suddenly they think they're upper class. They surround themselves with hangers-on who tell them how wonderful and funny they are every minute of the day, and they lose any kind of perspective.

"There's a player I know, a real top name, who admits he doesn't have what he can call a single friend. He's got loads of people he can go out with but they're not friends, they're just there for his name.

"So, if he's in a restaurant acting like an idiot, there's nobody to say, 'Oi, you're out of tune there, lad'.

"They just laugh along with him.

"Two of my three best friends are lads I've known since junior school - the other is somebody I grew up with as a YTS kid at City.

"We used to get on a bus to go training at seven in the morning, come home again at seven in the evening and were earning £72.50 a week ... that's when real friendships are made.

"I'm not putting myself up as some great role model because I've done some stupid things in my life, been out of control at times.

"But when I've been stupid, there's always been a friend to pull me up, tell me I'm bang out of order and say that what I was doing was unacceptable."