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Gary Charles opens up on alcohol addiction

Former Villa defender Gary Charles has pinpointed the event which kicked off a path of alcohol addiction during his playing days.

Gary Charles
Gary Charles

Charles, who made 107 appearances in claret and blue between 1995 and 1999, is now sports ambassador for new rehab clinic Delamere, in Cheshire.

He credits Delamere’s clinical director Mike Delaney for putting his life back on track after a battle with alcoholism throughout his career, which was cut short by injury in his early 30s.

And speaking at the clinic’s launch event, Charles revealed being released by Arsenal as a teen was what started his addictive behaviour.

He said: “I walked home with tears in my eyes feeling I’d let my mum down. I said to her ‘They’ve told me I’m not going to be good enough’.

“She said: ‘You either give up or you prove them wrong’.

“I started running 15 or 16 miles every day.

“That was the first sign of my addictive behaviour. I couldn’t do anything by halves.”

At the event, Charles also spoke about how he drank heavily throughout his career to help him deal with being in the limelight – something he remains uncomfortable with to this day.

When he moved to Villa, where injury struck, he said there followed two years of benders and being disciplined.

After another move to West Ham, he agreed to go to rehab, but only to save his job.

The acceptance he had a problem only came much later when, after retiring, he signed up for treatment himself and met Delaney.

The launch event for the £7million

facility took place last week, and the clinic, which has created 30 jobs, aims to receive guests this month.

Charles added at the launch night: “I used to play football in front of 100,000 people.

“That was easier than doing this for me.

“I hope sharing my story helps others, even if I don’t like doing it.”

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