A terrible waste of a god given talent? Or a sad lesson that is not being heeded by rich young prima donna football starlets across the globe? Whatever twist you want to give on the story of Michael Johnson he is far from the first young sportsman to fall into the addiction cycle and he certainly won’t be the last one you can bet on that!
My mental health torment: Former City starlet Michael Johnson reveals Priory treatment and asks for privacy
Johnson, who was once tipped to become the future England captain, pleaded to be “left alone to live the rest of my life”
Former England footballer Michael Johnson has been in The Priory with mental health issues, he revealed today.
The player, 24, was plagued with injuries and was twice convicted for drink-driving in just three months last year and banned from the road for three years.
He has now been released by Manchester City and admitted having treatment “for a number of years” at the famous Priory clinic, which specialises in mental illness, alcoholism and gambling addiction.
Johnson, who was once tipped to become the future England captain, also pleaded to be “left alone to live the rest of my life”.
He burst onto the scene as a teenager and signed a five year contract worth £6.5million in 2008.
But he played just four Premier League games after that, costing City around £1.65million an appearance.
Champions City have paid up his £25,000 a week contract, which was due to expire in the summer.
Today devastated Johnson said: “I am more disappointed than anyone but that’s the way it goes.”
The midfielder added: “I have been attending the Priory Clinic for a number of years now with regard to my mental health.
“I would be grateful if I could now be left alone to live the rest of my life.”
He has not played for the team since appearing as a second-half substitute in a Carling Cup tie against Scunthorpe in October 2009.
Earlier this week Johnson had been pictured on Twitter looking overweight and dishevelled.
He seemed to be a long way from the fit young man who made his debut in 2006 aged 18.
A Manchester City source said: “It is all very sad.”
Johnson played in the 2006 FA Youth Cup final alongside future England stars Micah Richards and Daniel Sturridge.
He made his first team debut at the start of the following season and earned England Under-21 honours.
The player was compared to some of the nation’s brightest prospects and Liverpool FC were rumoured to be preparing a £10million bid for the star.
But in the 2007-08 season he was out for three months with an abdominal problem which led to a double hernia operation.
The following season he was again hit by stomach problems which were followed by a serious knee injury.
He now faces an uncertain future in the sport.