Barry Bannan, 22-year-old Aston Villa and Scotland midfielder, is fronting West Midlands Police’s Christmas anti-drink and drug drive campaign, following his conviction for drink driving (The Sun).
Bannan was banned from driving for 18 months and fined £4,500 after crashing his Range Rover into the central reservation on the M1 in Nottinghamshire. He admitted drink-driving, failing to stop after an accident and driving on a provisional license.
Bannan spoke of his fear for his professional career and of spending Christmas behind bars, saying: “I was putting on a strong front around the club. But as soon as I got into the court that’s when it started to hit me. I just crumbled. It was so scary.
“They leave you for 10 minutes and then come back in and tell you what’s going to happen, and in those 10 minutes all sorts are going through your head. It’s terrifying. Until I got out of court I kept thinking the worst. I was thinking I could be in jail over Christmas.
“The lawyers didn’t know what was going to happen. It was down to the judge so there was a strong possibility I could have gone to jail.
“I know I’m lucky to be here today. Obviously if I had gone to jail, who knows what the club would do — they could easily have sacked me. It’s still hard to explain exactly how harrowing an experience it was.
“My dad’s a strong character and he was trying to help me but my mum went to pieces, and that’s the person I love the most, so it was hard for me.
“The time in the cells was the worst bit. You just sit there thinking of what happened, what you should have done, what damage you could have done. That will be the thing I remember most.
“Yet in some ways I was so lucky. What if there was another car involved, or if I did something to myself or my mate in the car?
“You wake up and feel lucky because I might not have been here or could have taken someone else’s life. It still goes through my head.
“I said at the time there was no excuse for what I did, I am genuinely sorry. I’ve not touched a drop since and if this publicity helps stop young people thinking of drink-driving, it’s completely worthwhile."
Click here to read the full report in The Sun.