Ex-England international has claimed that giving up alcohol made him play more terrible and prompted him being dropped.
Carlton Palmer was a man who especially divided opinion, over the course of his professional career he grabbed 18 England caps, but at the same time was forced to bear comments, for example, this one by then Southampton coach Dave Jones: “He covers each piece of sod out there, but that’s only because his first touch is so crap”.
In his column in English top publication The Daily Mail, the 51-year-old opened up about his drinking propensities as a player, with one particularly intriguing story.
The story goes that amid his time with Leeds, Palmer was asked to give up on drinking by manager Howard Wilkinson, with the expression going something like this…
‘Carlton…I’ve got something to ask you.’
‘I don’t want you to take this the wrong way.’
‘It’s about drinking. Have you ever thought about not drinking?’
‘Maybe it’s something to think about.’
‘Why should I think about not drinking?’
At this point, Wilkinson told Palmer about the potential benefits of giving up alcohol, including improved performances, a longer career and a potential England recall.
‘As a family man with financial obligations, he pressed all the right buttons,’ Palmer told the newspaper.
However, things did not quite turn out how Wilkinson had promised. Palmer’s form soon deserted him, leading him to be dropped to the reserves squad, something which he claims had never happened to him in his life.
That led to another meeting with the boss.
‘Sit down, Carlton.’
‘I’m sorry about this, Carlton. But you’re not playing well.’
‘What’s going on?’
‘I don’t know. I’m training hard. Everything is going fine — except on matchdays.’
‘You doing anything different?’
‘Just the one thing.’
‘I’m not drinking.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘Not one single f***ing drop.’
‘Yeah. Trust me.’
At this point Wilkinson stood up, walked over to his office fridge and upon producing a can of lager, said: ‘There you go, Carlton. See if that helps.’
A bizarre story and one that goes to show just how much football has changed in the last 20 years.