Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson speaks to Sporting Chapters about his book 'How Not to Be a Professional Footballer'.
Last Updated: February 7, 2013 4:18pm
Paul Merson was a talented, crowd-pleasing player for Arsenal, helping the Gunners to two league titles as well as an FA Cup and League Cup success. However, behind his chirpy exterior the midfielder battled addictions to drugs, alcohol and gambling.
The former England international conquered those demons and is now a pundit for Sky Sports' Soccer Saturday.
In his new book 'How Not to Be a Professional Footballer' Merson describes the highs, lows and challenges of his life as a professional player. And here, in an interview with Sporting Chapters he discusses:
Early days: Merson talks about his father encouraging him to take up the game, his time as a youth team player with Watford and his initial reservations about switching to Arsenal aged 14
Gambling: The former Arsenal ace tells how he became hooked on betting, despite a distressing first experience of gambling; blowing his month's wages in 15 minutes at the age of 16...
Addiction: Merson discusses the impact drink and drugs had on his playing career and why 1993 was such a hard time for him
Fall-outs: The former midfield recounts a trip to Bermuda with Arsenal, which culminated in him and Steve Bould being shunned by the rest of the squad
Rehab: Merson describes the moment he knew he needed to change his lifestyle - and how the Gunners supported him
After football: And the Soccer Saturday pundit talks about his current role with Sky Sports - which he describes as 'the second best job in the world'
Coming up... Sam Torrance
Next on Sporting Chapters we catch up with former European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance.
A 21-time winner on the European Tour, Sam talks about his life in golf and how the sport has evolved since he turned pro in 1970.
He played in eight Ryder Cups and will best be remembered for sinking the winning putt in 1985, a victory which marked a step-change in Europe's fortunes.
He went on to successfully skipper Europe after receiving advice from Sir Alex Ferguson, who stressed the importance of treating the team as equals - with no preferential status for any player.
Sam also talks about Seve and discusses just how big an influence his Dad, coach Bob Torrance, had on his career. For this, and more, watch Sporting Chapters on Tuesday.
SKY'S SPORTING CHAPTERS
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William Hill Sports Book of the Year award
It's the most valuable literary sports-writing prize around - so Sporting Chapters was first in the queue to speak to nominees of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award.
'The Secret Race' by ex-cyclist Tyler Hamilton and writer Daniel Coyle got the judges' nod for their book, which takes us inside the hidden world of the Tour de France. We'll catch up with Hamilton on Sporting Chapters in the near future.
Ex-Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan, four-time Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington and professional squash player James Willstrop were also nominated and we'll hear from the latter two soon.
Check out our video interviews to find out about the story behind the story - and for more details about each nomination.
He's a five-time Olympic gold medallist and in the latest Sporting Chapters, Ian Thorpe talks about the story behind his glittering career.
After winning his first World title aged just 15 and went on to dominate the pool to such an extent that Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates stated that "In 50 years from now Australians will still marvel at the feats of Ian Thorpe".
But the success came at a cost - with questions raised about the legality of his performances, a personal battle with depression and doubts raised about his sexuality.
In his autobiography 'This is Me', Ian opens up and speaks about his life and career.
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Enzo Calzaghe guided his son Joe through a boxing career that yielded 46 wins, no losses and a spell as undisputed super-middleweight world champion.
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Calzaghe also discusses the time he forced Joe to fight with a broken wrist, what went on behind the scenes when his son battled greats like Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones, Jr - and why his desire to break into the music business almost cost him his marriage.
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If you missed Sporting Chapters with Andy Fordham, then click here
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