Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughDark side of the Mersey - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Dark side of the Mersey - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Dark side of the Mersey

When I read the transcript of Andy Ver Der Meyde’s phone call to Royston Drenthe advising his compatriot not to come to Everton because of the many temptations that life on Merseyside presents, my initial reactions was to laugh.

Van Der Meyde’s words of warning included this:

‘Liverpool has too many temptations for guys like us. Before you know you will be dragged into the nightclubs.

‘There the Barcadi flows and you can ski on cocaine; and the women, Royston. Oh man, oh man, oh man. Those British women and their short skirts…’

Of course, Drenthe completed his move to Everton from Real Madrid two days later. And why not? Van Der Meyde has made it sound like a dream for a young man with lots of spare cash to burn.

Van Der Meyde was being completely serious, though, as he was unable to keep his own personal life under control and his four seasons at Everton were a disaster, making only 20 appearances and scoring no goals.

He retired at the age of 31, his career ruined due to a lack of control over his off field antics and numerous injuries on it.

The Dutchman’s candid admittance of his problems in an interview with BBC Radio Five Live (quotes here) highlight how easy it can be for a footballer to descend into a world of excess where anything you want is readily available.

This past week we have been given a stark reminder of this as Paul Gascoigne continues his long fight against alcoholism, something which Van Der Meyde struggled with too.

David Moyes appears to be a strict manager and it is impossible for managers to physically stop their players from going out on the town or buying drugs. There should be punishments, however, for players who overstep the mark. A week’s wages is simply not good enough and clubs should review their disciplinary policy on such matters.

People are too easy to dismiss footballers because of their reputations; paid too much money and behave badly. It is clear, however, from this recent case of Van Der Meyde and the more high profile stories of Gascoigne and, tragically, George Best that if players are unable to control their excesses than it can ruin careers and lives.