Barton blasts out-of-touch players

LONDON - The lifestyles of some high-earning footballers have put them out of touch with reality, Newcastle United midfielder Joey Barton said on Wednesday.

Barton, who has resurrected his career after being jailed for assault in 2008, told BBC Radio Four that being forced to face up to his own problems and failings had given him a sense of perspective some other players lacked.

"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," he said.

"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've been in that's forced me away from being in the football world."

The 27-year-old Barton, who made one appearance for England, has courted trouble throughout his career.

He stubbed a lit cigarette into the eye of a team-mate, slapped a fan, hit former Manchester City colleague Ousmane Dabo and beat up a teenager during a night out in Liverpool, which earned him a six-month prison sentence.

"That's the stuff people know about - there's stuff I got away with," he admitted.

The player, currently out of the Newcastle side with a foot injury, sought help at a clinic specialising in behavioural problems among sportspeople and without it he believes things could have got even worse for him.

"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're doing and your career is gone, or you address it."