Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton has blasted modern footballers for losing touch with reality.
The 27-year-old, who was sentenced to six months in jail for assault and affray amid a catalogue of misdemeanours in recent years, insists the trouble he has brought upon himself has kept his feet firmly on the ground. However, he admits many of his fellow professionals are cocooned away from the lives led by those who pay to watch them play.
Barton told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "A lot of them are so detached from reality it's untrue, and there was a stage when I was like that. It's only the fact I'm grounded by the trouble I have been in that's forced me away from being in the football world."
He added: "Driving round in flash cars and changing them like you change your socks, wearing stupid diamond watches and spending money like it's going out of fashion in the middle of a recession when some people are struggling to put food on the table for the kids - it's not the way to do it."
Barton's time behind bars following an incident in Liverpool city centre marked the low-point in a career which has been blighted by his behaviour, which at one point saw him stub out a cigar in a team-mate's eye and attack then Manchester City colleague Ousmane Dabo.
But the midfielder, who sought the help of the Sporting Chance Clinic in an effort to deal with his problems, believes things could have got even worse if he had not be forced to deal with his issues.
He said: "That's the stuff people know about - there's stuff I got away with.
"I'm very fortunate because of my profile and the job I do, and the fact I'm in the public eye, it got addressed.
"I was forced to address my issues - either carry on doing what you are doing and your career is gone, or you address it."
Barton is currently recovering from a foot injury which has sidelined him since September, and is due to return to training towards the end of next month.
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