Vinnie Jones ‘rotting from inside’ during alcohol battle but found sober love

Vinnie Jones, the footballer-turned-actor, is celebrating 11 years of being sober this week.

He’s a different man now compared to his younger days when he was known for his “hardman” image both on and off the football pitch and on screen.

Now, his wild younger lifestyle is firmly in the past and Vinnie, 59, will be marking his sober anniversary by simply “chilling out.”

“I’m enjoying the joy in life,” he says.

“I think I’ve learned a little bit that ego is not your Amigo.”

Vinnie recently appeared in the Netflix hit The Gentlemen, directed by his old friend and long-time collaborator, Guy Richie.

But today he’s talking about something very important to him – mental health in the football community, hoping to encourage fans to open up.

It’s a topic he knows all too well. After becoming famous in 1986 when he signed for Wimbledon, he had an amazing career playing for Leeds United, Sheffield, Chelsea and QPR. But alongside his outward success, he battled inner demons.

Plagued by alcoholism and mental health issues, he says in an interview with the Mirror: “I was 19 or 20 before I even had a drink.

“It’s all rot. You’re rotting from the inside out. I didn’t talk about it to anybody.”

Vinnie’s reputation off the pitch was even wilder than his performances during games, and he blames one thing for his behaviour – drink.

With unresolved childhood trauma from his parents’ tricky divorce, his drinking began as fun, but later led to some shocking actions.

In 1997 he was arrested for drunkenly beating his neighbour and convicted of assault and criminal damage.

The following year he bit late Mirror journalist Ted Oliver’s nose down to the bone and in 2003 he was given community service for assaulting a passenger on a flight to Japan.

“You drop all your morals,” says Vinnie, discussing heavy drinking. “Your moral standards drop, and it’s all about the fact I didn’t have anyone to talk to.”

Vinnie’s mental health suffered so badly that he considered suicide in the late 1990s, ashamed by his behaviour and the strain he was putting on his relationships – including that with his late wife Tanya.

Reflecting on his past drinking habits, he shared: “I think it clouds the passion. You know, the passion becomes misty, it becomes clockwork. Other people say in AA, you’re a functioning alcoholic. You’re a functioning drinker.

“Yes, you can have a few pints because you’re in your 20s. You can run it off and you can get on with it, but drinking is a young man’s sport.”

He finally managed to quit drinking after several attempts, but he believes that being more open about his feelings would have aided him sooner.

“During my football career, I spent a lot of time in pubs,” he recalls. “I went to the pub and played cards with the lads at two o’clock.”

Vinnie is now urging football fans to follow his example and start discussing what’s on their minds. He says that the macho culture in football can make it difficult for people to talk about mental health, admit vulnerability, or discuss topics like sexuality.

“I’m passionate about this,” says Vinnie. “My daughter came out six years ago. She’s getting married in June to her girlfriend.

“We have a bit of a modern family. It’s nice not to be a dinosaur.”

After the sad loss of his wife Tanya in 2019, he’s now found love with new partner Emma Ford, who’s also his personal assistant.

An AI tool was used to bring an extra layer to this story.

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