‘I wasted some of my best years’ - says former Aston Villa midfielder Danny Drinkwater
Drinkwater has opened up on his difficult spell at Stamford Bridge and his loan move to Aston Villa
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Drinkwater was a key part of the Leicester City team which won the Premier League in 2016. The 32-year-old then moved to Chelsea in 2017 for £35m, signing a five-year contract with the west London club.
In his time at Stamford Bridge, Drinkwater, who had a short spell at Villa after joining the club on loan in January 2020, made just 23 appearances for Chelsea during his time at the club.
Speaking on his Chelsea exit, Drinkwater said: “I’m relieved, because it’s clear it wasn’t a situation that was good for me or the club.
“It got to the last hour of the transfer window and I got pulled into the office, not expected at all - ‘Don’t think you’re going to be in our plans’. This is Sarri, being translated by Gianfranco. And I was like ‘what?’
“Sarri and I got on like a house on fire off the pitch. On the pitch, we were like chalk and cheese. I was like - ‘why are you telling me now? An hour before the window closes? I need time’. He replied, ‘No, no, we’ve got clubs abroad you can look at…’
“My reaction was - ‘No, I’ve got my young son. He is my priority’. So I decided to stay until January.” When asked if he feels like he’s wasted the best five years of his career, Drinkwater added: “Yeah, it feels like ‘what have you thrown those five years away?’
“If you’d stayed at Leicester, if you didn’t get injured and if the club treated you differently. They’re all ifs. It’s frustrating, 100 per cent. Don’t think I’m still not burning about how it’s gone. I still kick myself for it. But on the other side, am I going to keep kicking myself, because I can’t change it.
“Can I help myself going forward? That’s why I went on loan, why I went to Aston Villa and Burnley on loan, which didn’t work, and going to Turkey at the age of 30 - I never thought I’d do that. It’s also the reason I dropped down to the Championship. I’ve been trying to do the right things. As I’ve tried doing them, something’s gone wrong.”
Issues off the pitch
When asked if he was happy ‘living the life’ in London while not playing for Chelsea, Drinkwater responded: “That’s not true - ‘Living the life’ lasts about two weeks. You figure out you’re not involved in games, only training, so I could go out with the lads, I’m single, it’s great, I can do all this. I was loving it, but in the background, there’s always things that burn away.
And as a person, if you’re not open enough to speak to the right people, it chews away at you. I didn’t learn that until further down the line. I was always like ‘I’m a big strong bloke, I can deal with this’.
Nan passed, grandad passed, dad got diagnosed with Leukaemia, I lost my dog and was drink driving, which is just not me. I made a big mistake. I was also fighting for my son, which was going on constantly and takes its toll.
“I think when someone has too much to juggle, it can hit you. And it did hit me. And I was like ‘wow’, is this what it’s come to? And I was lost.
“When football is going well, everything else seems easier to deal with, but when this isn’t going so well, everything seems so heavy. I definitely think that’s the lowest I’d been.”
Drinkwater spent last season on loan with Reading in the Championship, making 32 appearances.
He says he has a few options with ‘offers flying about’ in regards to his next move in football.
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