Joey Barton believes a horrific moment in his childhood played a key role in shaping what he described as a "psychotic" personality.
The 34-year-old has cut himself a reputation as football's bad boy, further enhancing that view earlier this week after being suspended by his current club Rangers after a training ground fall-out.
Not satisfied with that, he also broke strict rules regarding gambling on football matches and is currently under investigation for placing a bet on Celtic's recent Champions League clash against Barcelona.
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Barton attributes his tendency to cause trouble to his childhood, where he came through a tough upbringing on St John’s council estate in Huyton, Merseyside. But it is one moment in particular, when he was just three-years-old, that started him on the route to developing an “occasionally psychotic” personality.
His new autobiography 'No Nonsense' details how he was brutally attacked by an out-of-control Alsatian, after which doctors had to fight to save one of his eyes. In response, his father ran the animal over twice before then forcing the owner into an apology.
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The former Manchester City star recalls: “I was playing in a concrete tunnel in the playground at school when an Alsatian appeared at the other end. I tried to be friendly but it mauled me, biting my temple, nose and face.
“My half-sisters Sharon and Joanne, who had left me for a few seconds, fought the dog off and helped my Nan get me to hospital.
“The doctors were worried about me losing my right eye and they decided I needed minor plastic surgery to my nose.
“Dad was tracked down to the local pub where he borrowed a mate’s van and headed towards the playground.
“He was enraged to discover the dog was still off the leash. Dad drove through the gates, ran it down, and reversed over it to ensure it was dead.
“He leaped out to confront the panic-stricken owner, who lived nearby and saved himself from a beating by apologising profusely. ‘F*** off back to your house’, he was told."
Barton admits that he was convinced his father had let him down for years but later realised he had simply done the best he could and was preparing him for the life he expected his son to face. However, the Englishman admits that a better upbringing probably would have seen him become an established Premier League player.
He continued: “Without wanting to critique his parental skills, he was preparing me for the world he thought I’d face.
“It was his world. It’s a world where you need a skill set that isn’t the same if you’re going to Eton and becoming an MP. At 24, I felt he’d let me down. But now, through more mature eyes, I can see he did the best he could.
“And if I had been given a more well-rounded approach, I wouldn’t have ended up in the Premier League. If you look at the socio-economic backgrounds of most footballers, they come from certain parts of town.
“But I’m not going to bastardise the place I come from. It’s made me who I am. Good and bad. It’s given me some character flaws – My behaviour was occasionally psychotic – but it’s also made a great part of my character.”
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