Former professional footballer Gary Charles is extending his work with alcoholics and addicts as an ambassador for a new rehab clinic.
Ex Nottingham Forest, Derby County, Aston Villa, West Ham and England defender Charles has been sober for 12 years and had a well-publicised battle with alcoholism.
Charles, who also had a stint as Nuneaton Town manager, has taken up a role as sports ambassador with new rehab centre Delamere, in Cuddington, Cheshire. The centre’s clinical director Mike Delaney helped Charles achieve recovery and has become a close friend.
Charles said: “Helping others overcome addiction and alcoholism is something that is so important to me and its work that brings me so much fulfilment.
“I believe that if people like me are able to speak about the problems we went through it helps to reduce the stigma and encourage others to seek help.
“Tens of thousands of people attend football matches every Saturday and every single one of them will have some connection to addiction, either through themselves or someone they know. We need to make sure these people can get help and footballers can play a big role in helping to spark a conversation among fans.
“Delamere offers a unique environment for people to get well in. I’m really excited to be involved in such a forward-thinking project that’s going to help a lot of people.”
Charles played more than 300 top-flight games and binge drinking became an increasing problem during his career. His drinking problem became more public after injury at Villa in the 1995-96 Premier League season when he missed a long period of playing.
Charles has been running a business offering counselling to addicts and alcoholics in recent years, GCSportsCare. He remains involved in football and is head coach at You Can Do Sports Academy in Newark.
Delamere is a £7m rehab and behavioural health centre – the only purpose-built facility of its kind in the UK, offering a unique environment for recovery.