Former England footballer Ray Wilkins has told a court he is an alcoholic who has no choice but to stay away from alcohol or face ruining his life, as he was given a four-year ban for drink-driving.
The 59-year-old pleaded guilty to the offence at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court after being found to have been three times over the limit.
A member of the public spotted him driving his Mercedes in the middle of the road and straddling a bus lane along the A4 northern perimeter road in London on 1 July.
He was seen striking a kerb and swigging alcohol from the bottle behind the wheel.
The member of the public then took his keys away when the car stopped, in order to prevent a possible accident.
District judge Tim Boswell gave Wilkins, who has two previous drink-driving convictions dating back to 2013, a ten-week suspended prison sentence, ordered him to do 140 hours’ unpaid work and disqualified him from driving for 48 months.
Standing in the dock, Wilkins said: “Abstinence is the only way I can cure this situation.”
Wilkins’s lawyer Sarah-Kate McIntyre told the court of his long-running battle against alcoholism, saying the former top-flight footballer was “ashamed and embarrassed” to be in the dock.He believes he “blacked out”, she said.
Ms McIntyre said that Wilkins appreciates the “danger he caused to himself and the public” as well as the hardship he has caused his family, and that he “accepts full responsibility” for the offence.
Wilkins, who was found to have 100mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath, is on an intensive residential rehabilitation course at the Priory Hospital in Woking, Surrey.
On the offence, Ms McIntyre said that Wilkins “does not remember anything” that happened as he left a golf club where he was attending a charity event.
She said: “He believes he blacked out, as he has done before … Mercifully no-one was hurt.
“He was cooperative with the police. His reaction was: ‘That’s my life f****d.’ He is now working hard to turn his life around.
“He also knows that his marriage is in jeopardy if he continues to drink,” she added.
Ms McIntyre said Wilkins, of Cobham, Surrey, had done work with Sporting Chance, a clinic which was set up by former England and Arsenal captain Tony Adams in 2000 so that sports stars could get support in tackling their alcoholism.
When Wilkins left that facility “he did not believe he was an alcoholic – he does now,” she said.
Wilkins was capped 84 times for England, including at the 1986 Mexico World Cup.
He played for AC Milan and Paris St Germain before going on to become a manager and coach for teams including Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers.
Wilkins also played for Rangers and Hibs during his career.