SUNDAY PEOPLE ARTICLE ON ADAM MURRAY
Lampard and Cole were once his England team-mates...now this boozed-up kid fights for his life.
Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Joe Cole. Top Premiership stars, top earners....and Adam Murray should be one of them.
He rubbed shoulders with them in the England Under-21 squad but while the Premiership's finest count their cash, Murray is counting the cost of a career almost ruined by drink and depression.
But this isn't a sob story. It's a full and frank admission from a well paid footballer who lived the high life....and only just lived to tell the tale. Speaking for the first time since leaving the Priory Clinic last week, Murray 22, revealed how in the past year he:
*Blew thousands of pounds on champagne and strip clubs and became an alcoholic
*Collapsed with exhaustion and forced a holiday jet to make an emergency landing
*Faced doctors' warnings that he only had six months to live if he carried on drinking
Murray, whose agent will enter talks with Derby over his future this week, said: "I'm not making excuses. I drank my way into oblivion and I'm lucky to be alive. Now I want to rebuild my life."
Murray was struggling to keep his place in the Derby side when problems on and off the pitch took hold.
In the space of six traumatic months last year, Murray's mother had a nervous breakdown, his girlfriend suffered a miscarriage and then lost her mother, and his step-father was diagnosed with cancer.
It was a harrowing combination of events which almost cost Murray his life, because of seeking help he hit the bottle. Big time.
"One minute I was training with the under-21's and the next I realise I'm lucky to even be alive," he confessed.
"The booze caught me and it caught me big-style. Bar bills were upwards of £1,000 and I never thought anything of it. I didn't bother with lager most of the time, I just drank champagne.
"I got a taste for it when I started my pro career and it escalated when my personal problems surfaced.
"I was trying to be strongamd supportive for my family but inside I was just ripping myself apart by boozing.
"Drinking blocked everything out. I've never been one to talk about my feelings and I was trying to be strong because my family needed me.
"I couldn't talk to them about my personal problems because they were relying on me for help.
"All my personal problems came within the space of six months. I was still training but didn't really know what was going on.
"I had £2,000-a-week burning a hole in my pocket every day since the age of 17 and, as far as I was concerned, it was there to be spent.
"I blew £8,000 in one month on clothes - I've never even worn most of them.
"Another time the bank manager phoned me to say I'd set a record because I'd made more than 300 withdrawals in a month.
"But I didn't care. The money rolled in and rolled out again. Easy come, easy go. I put £1,700 on my credit card in one night once.
"I didn't listen to advice and anyway, I wasn't interested. I didn't want to talk to the people close to me - my mum, girlfriend and step-dad."
Murray struggled to keep his place in the team under John Gregory but things looked brighter for him when George Burley took over at the end of last season.
Burley rewarded him with a new one-year contract and Murray celebrated in the only way he knew how. He joined some of his playing pals in Greece for a week-long booze binge that ended with him collapsing through dehydration on the flight home. He thought he was going to di.
Murray recalled: "I was lying on the floor of the plane thinking 'this is it'. The flight was diverted to Italy so that I could get emergency treatment. They diagnosed me with anxiety and exhaustion and sent me home two days later.
"But instead of sorting out my problems when I got back, I erased them by drinking myself stupid."
Murray spent a month on loan at Kidderminster in late August, but by then he was on the transfer list after Burley had told him he was no longer part of his first-team plans.
"It all came to a head about six weeks ago when I felt I didn't - or couldn't play anymore.
"I went on a four-day bender and no one could find me. I went out with mates in Birmingham and, when they went to bed, I would stay up all night drinking."
Another time he drove to the airport in the middle of the night to catch a flight. Anywhere would do.
"Before I went into the Priory Clinic, I was drinking at every opportunity. I'm not ashamed to say it, but I'm an alcoholic."
Murray, whose girlfriend Lyndsay is now expecting another baby in April, was saved when his parents took him to hospital after another marathon session.
Doctors prescribed him tranquillisers before he was forced by his family to get help at the Priory.
"I didn't want to go, I thought they were all nutters," he added.
"But the 28 days I spent in there is the best thing I've ever done. It has saved my life.
"Doctors told my parents if I'd carried on drinking it would have killed me within six months. Now I want to repay them and the people at the Priory for their support."
Murray will never forget his first day at the Priory Clinic. When doctors read his life story they told him he had been through more than most 50-year-olds.
Now he reckons the hours of counselling and cajoling have done the trick.
Murray, who wants to train as a counsellor to help young players said: "I can't believe anyone can feel so happy after being so low.
"Everything had built-up inside me and the only release I had was through drink.
"I'm indebted to my family, my girlfriend and agent Gino Culbertson because they have helped me through a tough time.
"I'll play in the Third Division if I have to. It's no longer about money. I know I could have been a Premiership player but I've got a lot to prove.
"There are more important things in life - I've just found out the hard way."
Latest | November 2003