Footballers with criminal records
“He that falls into sin is a man; that grieves at it, is a saint; that boasts of it, is a devil. “
Author: Thomas Fuller
Source: Holy State--Of Self-Praising
On the 20th of September 2010 Coventry City signed former Watford and Wigan footballer Marlon King on a season long contract. Quite the norm one might say, except for the fact that the player in question just has left prison, where he served less than half of his original 18 month sentence for sexual assault and assault occasioning actual body harm. When King was sent to prison back in October 2009, football fans around the UK were more than sure that this guy will never ever play football again, as who would want a convicted felon on their team sheet anyway? Well it turns out that Coventry City is beyond desperate and thought nothing more of angering their faithful fans by employing King, whose footballing skills could be described as average on his best day.
The question is: should it matter if the player had any previous criminal convictions at all? Or are footballers totally and utterly beyond anything that resembles normal? Would any other person with a different profession find it so easy to re-enter the workforce after serving time in prison for robbery, manslaughter or assault?? Or should we “just” accept the fact that footballer or not if a person has served his time and paid his dues to society he is entitled to be given a second chance to re-build his life.
Of course and unfortunately Marlon King is not alone when one looks at the lengthy list of past and present players who at some stage in their lives have had a run in with the laws. I have picked three footballers from a long list, here are their stories.
Jamie Lawrence - robbery
Born in 1970 in London, 40 year old Lawrence -a former Jamaican footballer- currently is a proud manager of non-league club Ashford Town. The troubled teen –who once described himself as a one-man crime wave- committed the foolish act of bank robbery at the tender age of 17 and consequently has been sentenced to 4 years in prison in 1990. He had shown great talent on the football pitch while in Camp Hill prison on the Isle of Wight, which led then player-manager of Cowes Sport, Dale Thompson to offer him a place in his team. It seems that after this life changing opportunity Lawrence has never looked back: after his release from prison he signed with Sunderland, followed by some 10 other clubs in all four English divisions and also got over 40 caps for Jamaica. Not a bad achievement for someone who started his adult life behind bars, is it?
Well, technically he wasn`t a professional footballer when he committed the crime, some might say. True, but the reason I have chosen him is because I actually truly believe that he is a changed a man who is now a great and useful member of his community and society in general. The Jamie Lawrence Football Academy is helping kids on a daily basis to have a better, more meaningful life, and there wouldn`t be a better person to show these lost souls how to turn your life around than Jamie Lawrence himself.
Patrick Kluivert - manslaughter
The former Dutch international footballer has mesmerized millions of fans around the globe during his colourful footballing career, which has seen him playing for some of the best teams in Europe: Ajax (1994-97), AC Milan (1997-98), Barcelona (1998-2004) among the many. With his impressive tally of 40 goals, Kluivert is still the all time leading goal scorer for Holland and has also been chosen by Pele as one the 125 greatest living footballers. Does a man who was once convicted of manslaughter actually deserve to be given such an honour? So whatever happened on that faithful night is just all forgotten now because he is a great footballing talent? What about the victim`s family?
On the 9th of September 1995, 56 year old theatre director and father of two Marten Putman left his in-laws house in North-Amsterdam after a family dinner. While completing a U-turn in his Ford Orion, Kluiverts red BMW cabriolet has smashed into the family car with a crazy speed of 55mph. Lifelong Ajax fan Putman has died instantly while his wife -who has suffered serious injuries- fortunately survived the tragic accident. The speed limit was 35mph at the time and since there was no evidence that Kluivert was drinking that night, he was only charged with dangerous driving and subsequently was found guilty of manslaughter. Kluivert received community service and a driving ban. That`s it. He was 19 years of age and there was very little doubt that he would be able to pick up his career where he left it and continue to lead the lush lifestyle he was already very familiar with. His representatives urged fans and critics to quickly forgive and forget but as for Putman`s family, Kluivert has ruined their lives forever.
Joey Barton - common assault and affray
There isn`t a football fan in the UK or Ireland who hasn`t heard of Joey Barton, mostly for the wrong reasons though may I add. The troubled footballer has had his fair share of behavioural issues and unfortunately has a lengthy criminal record for a professional 28 year old footballer. I say unfortunately because I actually truly believe that the talented central midfielder is seriously trying to overcome his anger issues and working hard towards becoming a better person, unlike many others with well publicized disciplinary records.
Here is a list of Barton`s controversial incidents and criminal acts:
- December 2004: At the Manchester City Christmas Party teenage player Jamie Tandy thought it would be a fun idea to set fire to Joey`s shirt. The ill-tempered Barton had different ideas of fun as he stubbed out a lit cigarette in Tandy`s eye as a punishment. Barton got fined for 6 week`s worth of wages and has also apologised to the youth.
- May 2005: while driving through Liverpool city centre at 2am Joey Barton broke a 35 year old pedestrian`s leg. No further details given regarding the details of the accident (whether it was Barton`s fault at all) or if there were any charges pressed.
- Summer 2005: Barton was sent home early from the Manchester City pre-season tour from Thailand for assaulting a 15 year old Everton fan. According to the reports the youth had verbally abused the midfielder as well as kicked him in the process. Still though, hardly a fair contest between a grown man and a teenager. Apart from being sent home early Barton was also fined for £120,000.00 and was ordered by his club to undergo anger management therapy.
- May-December 2007: In May 2007 fellow City player Ousmane Dabo has pressed charges against Barton for a training ground assault which has left Dabo unconscious, bloodied and with a suspected detached retina. This incident has effectively ended Barton`s Manchester City career. The then 26 year old was released on bail after pleading not-guilty to the charges, received a 4 month suspended prison sentence plus 200 hours community service and was also ordered to pay £3000 in damages. While on bail one would`ve expected Barton to keep his head down and try to stay out of trouble. Not quite what has happened later on the same year. In the early hours on the 27th of December 2007 CCTV cameras have recorded the heavily drunk Barton knocking an unnamed victim to the ground. Shortly after the first attack Barton has been caught beating up a 16 year old innocent teenager in the belief that the youth had attacked Barton`s cousin earlier on. This time he had pleaded guilty to his parts of the assault – he committed the crime alongside with two of his cousins- and was sentenced to 6 months in prison of which he served only 77 days and got released on the 28th of July 2008.
As we all know Barton literally just walked back to his £71,000/week job at Newcastle United and after serving a 6 games ban he was playing again. I honestly cannot say that I hate Joey Barton at all. I do think he is actually pretty talented and is capable of incredible performances. He is a self-confessed alcoholic who gets picked on for absolutely anything these days and without a doubt he will have to face a constant backlash from both the supporters and fellow players because of his fearsome reputation. Not quite a Jamie Lawrence just yet, but hopefully he will be a on the right track very soon.
More players behind bars
George Best – drink-driving and assault
Tony Adams (Arsenal) – drink-driving
Lee Hughes (West Bromwich Albion) – causing death by dangerous driving
Jermaine Pennant (Birmingham City) – drink-driving while banned from the road
Renee Higuita (Columbia) – kidnapping and extortion
Mickey Thomas (Manchester United) – passing forged currency
Nizar Trabelsi (ex Fortuna Dusseldorf) – terrorism
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