Former Real Madrid playmaker Wesley Sneijder has revealed that ‘alcohol’ and a ‘rock-and-roll’ lifestyle overshadowed his time at the club.
Sneijder was the second of three Dutchmen to sign for Real Madrid during the 2007–08 season, joining Royston Drenthe and Arjen Robben, while he inherited the number 23 shirt vacated by David Beckham.
The former Ajax star was an instrumental figure as Madrid retained the league title in his debut season – scoring nine goals – but sustained a cruciate ligament injury the following pre-season.
His second and final season was frustrating and disrupted by injuries before he joined Inter in 2009 and starred in their historic treble that campaign, with Madrid selling him for a relatively poultry reported fee of €15m.
Now 36, Sneijder’s autobiography is being published with ESPN running pre-published quotes in which he opened up on his spell in the Spanish capital.
“I was young and enjoyed the success and attention,” he explained.
“It must have gone wrong there — later. No drugs, but alcohol and ‘rock-and-roll’. I got used to that, as one of the stars… You are worshipped as a Real player.
“All your mis-steps are instantly forgiven because of your status and popularity. Even if I rolled over the street and spent thousands of euros, or gave rounds to the whole bar. I cannot say that I resisted enough.”
Sneijder explains that his divorce hit him hard, while fellow teammates at club and international level, Arjen Robben and Ruud van Nistelrooy, persuaded him to change his lifestyle.
“I was left alone and didn’t see the little one, Jessey, much, that was s—. And I’m bad at being alone. Why would you even be alone when you have enough friends to spend your time with,” he added.
“I just didn’t realise that the bottle of vodka became my best friend.”
I played pretty well, but they said I could do even better,” but to no avail. In his own words he describes his performance during the last season there as “unworthy.”
“I still played a lot, but not so good and sharply, less concentrated. My attitude was unworthy of Real Madrid. I lied to myself that it was going well and I held my own by my football intelligence. Physically I deteriorated. I ran less, covered up a lot with my technique and my kicking technique. I also thought no one noticed.”
“Bruno Fernandes told me that, as a kid, he had a poster of me. He said that when he played Football Manager he always signed me. I was like, ‘You had me on a poster? And, seriously, you sign me for FM?’ I mean, how weird is that?” – Find out who said this right here.