Danny Drinkwater says that while he is angry about how his time at went, he doesn’t ‘think it’s anybody’s fault.’
The midfielder has left Chelsea after five years and just 23 games for the Blues, and in his first TV interview for four years, the 32-year-old has opened up on what went wrong and why, telling : ‘I’m relieved, because it’s clear it wasn’t a situation that was good for me or the club.
‘I can’t blame the club. And to a point I can’t even blame myself. I’m angry because of how it’s gone and how I was treated – not bitter though, it was a long time coming.’
An integral part of Leicester’s miraculous Premier League title win in 2016, he moved to Stamford Bridge a year later for £35million but failed to establish himself in the first team.
The following season Maurizio Sarri took over from Antonio Conte, and Drinkwater recalls the pivotal meeting with the manager on deadline day that would ultimately change his career and life for the worse.
‘It got to the last hour of the transfer window and [I] got pulled into the office, not expected at all,’ the former England international explained.
‘“Don’t think you’re going to be in our plans”. This is Sarri, being translated by Gianfranco [Zola]. And I was like “What?”
‘Sarri and I got on like a house on fire off the pitch. On the pitch, we were like chalk and cheese. I was like – “Why are you telling me now? An hour before the window closes? I need time”.
‘He replied, “No, no, we’ve got clubs abroad you can look at…” but my reaction was – “No, I’ve got my young son. He is my priority”. So, I decided to stay until January.’
Under Sarri, Drinkwater would make just one appearance, in the 2018 Community Shield, and it proved to be his last ever for Chelsea, with the next three season being spent out on loans at Burnley, Aston Villa, Kasimpasa and Reading, but it was only with the latter that the player received significant game-time.
He went on further to and added that it is easy to look back on events and wonder ‘what if.’
‘If you’d stayed at Leicester, if you didn’t get injured and if the club treated you differently. They’re all ifs. It’s frustrating, 100 per cent.
‘Don’t think I’m still not burning about how it’s gone. I still kick myself for it. But on the other side, am I going to keep kicking myself, because I can’t change it. It feels like “have you thrown those five years away?”
‘[In 2019] Nan passed, grandad passed, dad got diagnosed with Leukaemia, I lost my dog and was drink driving, which is just not me. I made a big mistake. I was also fighting for my son, which was going on constantly and takes its toll.
‘When football is going well, everything else seems easier to deal with, but when this isn’t going so well, everything seems so heavy. I definitely think that’s the lowest I’d been. I didn’t think I was depressed, but I saw the sports psychologist and if I hadn’t, I definitely think it could’ve gone that way.’
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