Last updated : 19 January 2003 By Editor

From The News of the World:

“I have done nothing wrong and I can't understand why people should think I have.

"I can't believe some of the hurtful allegations that have been thrown at me, especially as they are so obviously inaccurate.

"I would never deliberately do anything to embarrass my club, my country, myself and more importantly my family."

A close friend of the player said last night: "There has been so much inaccurate information and innuendo flying about this week.

"Michael was one of a group of England players who played cards last summer, usually to pass the time on long journeys — but never during the preparation for matches.

"Over a period of several weeks Michael ended up losing but not the figures I have seen of £20,000 or £30,000, which are grossly exaggerated.

"The problem is that Michael understands that even £100 would be a lot of money to the average person.