Tag Archives: torment

Paul Gascoigne out of rehab and coming home to England

Gazza's coming home! Former England star out of rehab and on his way back from Arizona

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

02:05 GMT, 8 March 2013

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UPDATED:

04:17 GMT, 8 March 2013

Paul Gascoigne will return to England after spending time in rehab in Arizona to deal with his severe alcohol problem.

The 45-year-old, whose celebrity friends came together to fund his 6,000-a-week treatment in the US, had a public meltdown at a charity event in Northampton in January but he has vowed to quit booze.

A source close to Gazza told The Sun: ‘We’re just delighted that Paul’s back on track and coming home, where he can get back into his routine of doing the things he enjoys – without the booze getting in the way ever again.'

Emotional: Paul Gascoigne suffered a public meltdown in Northampton

Emotional: Paul Gascoigne suffered a public meltdown in Northampton

The source added: 'He’s been in good hands out there
and he’s worked really hard over the past month to get where he is. We
were as shocked as anyone to see how bad things had got for Paul, and so
we’re just grateful that so many people stood by him like they did.

'We couldn’t have have got him back to good health again without their help.'

After his appearance in Northampton, video footage also emerged of the former Tottenham midfielder at the depths of his alcoholism and mental torment.

Rehab: Gascoigne has since been flown to America for treatment

Rehab: Gascoigne has since been flown to America for treatment

He was drinking two litres of
gin and 15 cans of Stella Artois a day before he was rushed to rehab, a former friend claimed.

One
time housemate Shane Abbott, 36, has also said he was taking up to 30 antidepressant Valium pills a day and
injecting cocaine.

He was rushed
to intensive care from the Cottonwood Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona when doctors feared he
could have suffered a major organ failure after having a seizure due to
alcohol withdrawal.

Heyday: Gascoigne was one of the best players of his generation

Heyday: Gascoigne was one of the best players of his generation

Celebrities
such as Chris Evans, Alan Shearer, Alan Sugar and Ronnie Irani have
lent support to a Twitter campaign to raise the 100,000 needed to cover his treatment.

English players Frank Lampard, John
Terry, Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshere had contributed funds, while FA
Charity the England Footballers Foundation also contributed 40,000 from
the national team.

Gascoigne is expected to be alone for two months during his rehabilitation.

Paul Gascoigne: The drink nearly killed me but I wont give up

Gazza: The drink nearly finished me off this time, but I won't give up the fight

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

12:31 GMT, 3 March 2013

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UPDATED:

12:31 GMT, 3 March 2013

Paul Gascoigne has revealed he came close to death after his latest drinking binge.

The former England star was admitted to a clinic in the United States last month after his celebrity friends came together to fund his 6,000-a-week treatment.

And the 45-year-old insists he is determined to finally conquer his demons.

Emotional: Paul Gascoigne suffered a public meltdown in Northampton

Emotional: Paul Gascoigne suffered a public meltdown in Northampton

‘The drink nearly finished me off this time,' he told Jimmy 'Five Bellies' Gardner.

'I know I’ve never been as bad as this before. But I’m not ready to give up the fight. I’m getting better now. I’m not there yet, but I’m getting there.’

Gardner, who revealed to the Sunday Mirror that he had spoken to Gascoigne, said: ‘Paul sounded frail and weak and scared. But I could hear something else in his voice too.

'I could hear grit and determination. No one knows Paul like I do and I can tell you, he’s not for throwing in the towel.’

Rehab: Gascoigne has since been flown to America for treatment

Rehab: Gascoigne has since been flown to America for treatment

Gascoigne had a public meltdown at a charity function in Northampton in January with pictures showing him looking bloated, sobbing and unable to stand or speak.

Video footage also emerged of the former Tottenham midfielder at the depths of his alcoholism and mental torment.

He was drinking two litres of
gin and 15 cans of Stella Artois a day before he was rushed to a rehab
clinic, a former friend claimed.

One
time housemate Shane Abbott, 36, has also said he was taking up to 30 antidepressant Valium pills a day and
injecting cocaine.

He was rushed
to intensive care from the Cottonwood Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona when doctors feared he
could have suffered a major organ failure after having a seizure due to
alcohol withdrawal.

Heyday: Gascoigne was one of the best players of his generation

Heyday: Gascoigne was one of the best players of his generation

Celebrities
such as Chris Evans, Alan Shearer, Alan Sugar and Ronnie Irani have
lent support to a Twitter campaign to raise the 100,000 needed to cover his treatment.

English players Frank Lampard, John
Terry, Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshere had contributed funds, while FA
Charity the England Footballers Foundation also contributed 40,000 from
the national team.

Gascoigne is expected to be alone for two months during his rehabilitation.

GASCOIGNE’S PROBLEMS WITH ALCOHOL

June 1996:
An alcohol-related 'dentist-chair' stunt in a Hong Kong bar during
England's Euro 96 preparations puts Gascoigne on the front pages of the
newspapers back in Britain.

August 1998:
Gascoigne's marriage to Sheryl ends after she is granted a quick
divorce. The player left his wife with a black eye and badly bruised
face and arm after he attacked her in a drunken rage in Gleneagles,
Scotland.

October 1998: The 31-year-old is admitted to the Marchwood Priory hospital to receive treatment for stress and drink problems.

June 2001: Gascoigne admits himself to an alcohol rehabilitation clinic in Arizona on his Everton manager Walter Smith's insistence.

May 2007: Undergoes emergency surgery for a perforated stomach ulcer.

February 2008: Gascoigne is arrested in Newcastle and detained under the Mental Health Act.

June 2008:
The former England footballer is sectioned under the Mental Health Act
following reports that he was acting strangely in Hemel Hempstead.

Graeme Smith interview: Two down, Andrew Strauss to go

He's made two England skippers disappear, now Smith wants to cast a spell on Strauss

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 15 July 2012

Neither Nasser Hussain nor Michael Vaughan went into their respective home series against South Africa, in 2003 and 2008, intending to step down as England captain, yet neither made it to the final match still in charge. Both were on the receiving end of monumental innings from their opposite number, Graeme Smith. And both resigned.

Popular myth has it that Hussain contributed to his own torment in the first Test at Edgbaston when he referred to Smith — then aged 22 and in only his second series as captain — as 'Wotsisname' in the pre-match press conference.

Some say Smith wasn’t even aware of the slight, and that it had nothing to do with his subsequent innings of 277 — then a South African record — or the 259 he made in the next Test at Lord's.

Crouching tiger: Graeme Smith is in confident mood ahead of South Africa's series with England

Crouching tiger: Graeme Smith is in confident mood ahead of South Africa's series with England

‘I was told about it,’ a laughing Smith says nine years later in the current edition of Wisden Extra. ‘I was well aware of it. I’d like to think I would have scored those runs anyway, but there was certainly a feeling of wanting to make sure he remembered my name next time.’

Hussain may have been nearing the end of the road anyway — Smith just happened to be the right man in the right place at the right time to persuade him to hand over to Michael Vaughan.

But five years later there was very clearly a sense of hunter and hunted about the Smith–Vaughan relationship, with Smith admitting at the time that South Africa ‘dived in as hard as we could’ once it became obvious his opposite number was under pressure.

These days he is a great deal more mellow. There is no such fighting talk. He respects Andrew Strauss and, although he doesn’t ‘know him personally at all,’ he places him on the same level — both as a player and a captain — as Vaughan.

‘He’s obviously a very strong personality with that quiet determination that sees him getting things done and achieving things with the minimum of fuss. He seems to keep an iron fist in a velvet glove,’ says Smith.

‘He’s also media savvy. He knows when to make a little comment or quip to feed the press something tasty and maybe deflect their attention from matters closer to home. He’s smart.’

Controversy: The last time the teams played, Andrew Strauss refused the cramp-affected Smith a runner

Controversy: The last time the teams played, Andrew Strauss refused the cramp-affected Smith a runner

The ICC Champions Trophy clash at Centurion three years ago, when Strauss effectively ended South Africa’s chances of progressing beyond the group stage by denying Smith a runner towards the end of an epic innings is now well and truly gone — at least from Smith’s point of view.

‘I had cramp and Andrew was perfectly entitled to say “no”. I was disappointed afterwards but more because I got cramp than about his decision. I would probably have done exactly the same thing.’

It sounds as though Smith doesn’t rate his chances of continuing the ‘England captain slayer’ reputation. He laughs.

Choice: Kevin Pietersen is considering a retirement u-turn

Choice: Kevin Pietersen is considering a retirement u-turn

‘I could sense the pressure building on Strauss before the West Indies tour and I couldn’t help putting two and two together. What if they had a bad series against the Windies and he didn’t score many runs And then we arrive… I could see how it might have happened. But I’m pretty sure those two hundreds have made him safe now.’

The other piece of England news to have interested the South African captain recently was Kevin Pietersen’s retirement from one-day — and, as a contractual side-effect, Twenty20 — cricket.

Smith admits he found the transition, after last year’s World Cup, from one-day captain to senior player under the leadership of AB de Villiers ‘incredibly difficult’.

And despite recent speculation about Pietersen’s possible return to limited-overs cricket, Smith says he would be ‘amazed’ if the England man doesn’t find it considerably harder not playing at all.

‘It’s impossible to know what you’re giving up, and how hard it will hit you, until it’s gone,’ he says. ‘One-day cricket has been a big part of his life for a very long time and, right now, he thinks he can just walk away from it. Maybe he can. But I think he’ll quickly find there’s a big hole in his life which isn’t as easy to cope with as he may think.

‘I don’t have any inside information at all, so I’m just looking from the outside. But if there’s any truth that his decision was partly based on the disagreements he had with the ECB and the way they treated him, then I believe he’ll find it even harder to come to terms with the way his one-day career has ended. He just seemed to be back to his aggressive, attacking best, too. Very strange that he should give it away.’

So does Smith see a KP comeback The smile is non-committal.

‘He’s just turned 32, only a bit older than me. And I’ve had far more physical problems than him. But I reckon my best ODI form is ahead of me, not behind me. I’m very keen to play limited-overs cricket and I’m still very ambitious.’

The World Cup in India was the low point of Smith’s career and he speaks with unusual — perhaps even alarming — candour for a man who possesses a stiffer upper lip than many Englishmen.

Not only did South Africa crash out with typical ignominy in the quarter-finals, but Smith failed to score a single fifty, and was vilified by critics for choosing to visit fiancee Morgan Deane in Ireland rather than return home with his team-mates.

‘It hit me hard and I was a bit lost for a while afterwards,’ he admits. ‘My confidence was affected and I needed a lot of time to reflect on the game and its place in my life — and my place in it.

Lording it: Smith has said Lord's is his favourite ground to play at, and no wonder considering his record there

Lording it: Smith has said Lord's is his favourite ground to play at, and no wonder considering his record there

Lording it: Smith has said Lord's is his favourite ground to play at, and no wonder considering his record there

'But the best way to get over a disappointment is to put it right, if you’re lucky enough to have that opportunity. And I did.’

He is as excited about this tour as any — and it’s not just because the No 1 Test ranking is up for grabs. It may sound a trifle absurd to wonder about an element of anti-climax four years after South Africa’s dramatic 2-1 series victory in 2008 and, in particular, Smith’s once-in-a-lifetime, match-winning 154 not out at Edgbaston.

But it meant so much to so many of the players that it seems only logical to wonder whether they might have a problem getting themselves up for it again.

Smith replies: 'Apart from the World Cup, we’ve achieved all the really big goals in the game. We’ve won Test series against pretty much everyone, home and away. But we haven’t done many of them twice.

‘They’re all hard to achieve — we won in England and then Australia within six months in 2008 — but it’ll be even harder to do twice. That’s the beauty of this challenge, and why we’re so excited by it.

'One of the greatest cricketers ever to represent South Africa has a special reason to make this trip one he will never forget.

‘Jacques Kallis had his one bad tour in 17 years the last time we were in England, so he wants to put that right. He’s usually an irresistible force when he puts his mind to something.’

This would also have applied to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher had he not suffered his freak eye injury on the opening day of the trip at Taunton.

Loss to the team: Mark Boucher's international career was ended by a freak injury early in the Tour

Loss to the team: Mark Boucher's international career was ended by a freak injury early in the Tour

Smith was moved last week to describe his former right-hand man as ‘a true Proteas warrior, a patriotic South African, a fighter who asks nothing and gives everything’.

He was, said Smith, ‘a motivator, an inspirer, an energiser and a good friend to many’. The same can be said of the captain himself — and frequently is. England is his favourite tour and Lord’s his favourite ground.

‘It’s hard not to be moved by the atmosphere and sense of occasion,’ adds Smith. ‘And it’s hard not to love the place when you score two hundreds there. But I’m also really excited about playing at The Oval in the first Test.

‘I’ve always thought how we should suit the ground, with a bit of pace in the pitch and also some spin. But both times I’ve played there it’s been at the end of a long, hard tour and we’ve lost. That’s why it’s so exciting to start there this time. I hope we do as well as I think we can, and should.’

So where will the key battles be decided

‘I don’t want to single out names, but our bowling attack is hard to live with when it’s going well. I know England’s is, too, but I’ll back ours ahead of theirs. Same with the batting — both strong, but I’d back ours again.

‘Experience of conditions is the key. Four of our top six were on the last tour and three scored hundreds. Jacques Rudolph and Alviro Petersen have come into the side since then and both have hundreds of hours in English conditions.’

Done with: Smith has the honour of having been in the opposing captain in Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan's final Tests as captain

Done with: Smith has the honour of having been in the opposing captain in Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan's final Tests as captain

Done with: Smith has the honour of having been in the opposing captain in Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan's final Tests as captain

Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel were the first to admit they were overawed both by the flattery of the media four years ago and by the atmosphere at Lord’s, where they bowled poorly for two straight days in the first Test. They are much wiser operators now.

Vernon Philander cannot possibly live up to his pre-tour billing, can he Can Kallis, for that matter

‘People assume Jakes (Kallis) is tapering off on the bowling front but they couldn’t be more wrong,’ says Smith. ‘As a captain I still regard him as a crucial member of the attack. If it was up to him he would bowl more than he does, but I try to limit him to 10 or 12 overs a day.

'He can put a brake on the game or take a crucial wicket or three, as he did against England four years ago. His fitness and strength are incredible.’

England’s fast-bowling depth was thought to give them a significant advantage, although — even with 21-year-old quick Marchant de Lange now back home with a stress fracture — that overlooks the solid back-up provided by left-armer Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

But ECB’s decision to dumb down the series to three Tests may just have helped the tourists.

‘Nobody wanted that,’ says Smith, who is due to win his 100th cap at The Oval (Strauss hopes to reach the same landmark at Lord’s). ‘We’d all prefer a longer series given the status of the two teams, but it does mean, potentially, that depth is less of an issue.’

Surgery to his left ankle three months ago was the latest in what has seemed like an endless stream of potentially serious injuries over the last four years. But things are different now, Smith says with a sigh, or should that be a smile

‘I always came back from injuries too soon which led to other problems and more injuries. I didn’t want to miss important games so I didn’t have enough time to do the rehab properly.

'I don’t regret that, however. My performances didn’t suffer — just my body! But this time I’ll be ready, properly recovered and strong. I’m wary of tempting fate, but I haven’t felt this good, physically, for a long time — years.’

Who should supporters regard as favourites

‘England are more disciplined, smarter and better prepared than four years ago,’ says Smith, who may fly home after the first Test to attend the birth of his first child before returning for the second, starting at Headingley on August 2.

‘All the players who are still around from the last series have got better. They are a very, very good team at home and deserve to be ranked No 1. But we have also got better and we’re also pretty useful in English conditions.

'They have home advantage and they’re ranked ahead of us, but I’m not going to compete for underdog status! If some people want to make us favourites then I’ll take that as a compliment, not reject it.

‘Whatever happens, there’s a very good chance that people will see some high-quality, intensely competitive cricket — some cricket that people may remember for quite a while afterwards. We both want to win very much. It’s going to be quite a clash.’

This interview appears in the current issue of Wisden's online magazine, Wisden EXTRA. To subscribe free of charge, visit wisden.com

Graeme Smith

Branislav Ivanovic reveals Champions League final torment

What a ride! Ivanovic reveals helpless torment watching Champions League final

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UPDATED:

12:17 GMT, 22 May 2012

Branislav Ivanovic has revealed the torment he went through watching Chelsea battling to win the Champions League after being banned for the final with Bayern Munich.

Ivanovic was suspended after picking up a yellow card in the semi-final victory over Barcelona and was left to cheer from the stands as the Blues came out on top on a rollercoaster night for the west Londoners.

But while Ivanovic could not help his team-mates, he never lost faith that the Blues would be victorious, even when they went behind with just a couple of minutes remaining.

You beauty! Ivanovic celebrated with his team-mates after winning in Munich

You beauty! Ivanovic celebrated with his team-mates after winning in Munich

'Many times it is said that some matches are harder to watch than play, and I would say that the Champions League final is at the top of the list.

'I was so nervous that it was hard to watch. The hardest was in extra time and at penalties.

'If you play, you do your job. If you sit in the stadium, you are powerless. You can just watch what is going on, you can't help your team.

'But in the end everything was superb so I was as happy as a child.'

He added: 'Once again we saw that in football you have to play until the end, until the very last minute. You can't yield for even a second.

Party time: Chelsea deserved to celebrate after overcoming the odds

Party time: Chelsea deserved to celebrate after overcoming the odds

'We won, because we believed in ourselves. Even when Bayern scored, we were sure that we could do it.

'This victory is the biggest one in my life. As a footballer you live for something like that.

'We completely deserved it and I will remember these pictures for my whole life.'

Gary Caldwell determined to avoid future relegation battles

Enough is enough! Caldwell determined to avoid future relegation battles

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UPDATED:

11:06 GMT, 9 May 2012

Wigan captain Gary Caldwell is determined to ensure the club's fans do not go through the torment of any more relegation battles.

Latics secured Barclays Premier League status for an eighth successive season with victory at Blackburn on Monday.

Resurgence: Gary Caldwell's (left) performances at centre-back in recent months have been essential to Wigan's Premier League revival

Resurgence: Gary Caldwell's (left) performances at centre-back in recent months have been essential to Wigan's Premier League revival

The win completed another remarkable escape from the drop a year after they beat Stoke on the final day to stay up.

Roberto Martinez's men were bottom with just 20 points after 27 games but have doubled that tally in their last 10 outings to survive with a match to spare.

'Now as a football club we have to progress and we don't want to be in this position again next year,' Caldwell said.

Done it again: Roberto Martinez's side beat the drop with a 1-0 victory against Blackburn at Ewood Park on Monday

Done it again: Roberto Martinez's side beat the drop with a 1-0 victory against Blackburn at Ewood Park on Monday

'From day one in pre-season we have to come back and show that hunger and that commitment to be a better football team and if we do that we will finish much further up this league.'

After spending most of the season in the relegation zone, Caldwell, who bagged the winner against Liverpool at Anfield in March, is also pleased to have proved wrong critics who wrote the team off long ago.

The influential defender said: 'I think we are easy to pick on because we're a small club and people find us as an easy target to say, 'Wigan will go down again' and they say it every season and every season we defy the odds.'

Wigan face rock-bottom Wolves on the final day of the season, but the pressure is off as Wolves are already relegated and Wigan find themselves five points clear of the drop zone.

Andy Carroll reveals despair over 35million price tag

EXCLUSIVE: Carroll's 35m fee despair: Liverpool striker reveals price-tag torment

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UPDATED:

22:38 GMT, 9 April 2012

Misfiring Liverpool striker Andy Carroll has admitted privately that he is struggling to cope with the pressure of the 35million price tag that made him the most expensive British footballer.

Carroll and his Liverpool team-mates head to Blackburn tonight hoping to win only their second Barclays Premier League game since the end of January.

Feeling the pressure: Carroll has revealed just how tough his massive price tag is proving to be

Feeling the pressure: Carroll has revealed just how tough his massive price tag is proving to be

The former Newcastle striker has become symbolic of Liverpool's struggles, scoring just three times in the league this season.

Now it has emerged that the England
international has admitted to friends that he has struggled to deal with
the attention and pressure that came with a transfer fee that shocked
the Premier League when Liverpool bought him in January last year.

Firing blanks: Carroll's last league goal for Liverpool came in January... against Wolves

Firing blanks: Carroll's last league goal for Liverpool came in January… against Wolves

Plenty to ponder: Dalglish's side have faded badly as the season has progressed

Blackburn v Liverpool: Teams

It is understood that the 23-year-old
is determined to make things work at Anfield and still believes he has
what it takes to prove himself a valuable asset on Merseyside.

However, he feels his best form will
not come until he can forget about the enormous amount Liverpool paid to
take him to the North West from his home city.

One friend of Carroll said this week:
'Andy isn't unhappy at Liverpool – he thinks Kenny Dalglish has been
supportive and he still thinks he can make it work.

'But one of his main problems is the fact that Liverpool paid so much for him.

'He feels that the size of the fee
wasn't his fault but that he has had to deal with the consequences of it
being so huge and a record.'

Carroll has scored only five times in the Premier League since arriving at Anfield and only eight times for the club in total.

At Newcastle, he had an impressive
record of 31 league goals in 57 league starts.

Dalglish is preparing to
leave some of his key performers on the bench tonight against Blackburn
at Ewood Park in an attempt to safeguard Liverpool's FA Cup ambitions.

Skipper Steven Gerrard is likely to
be the biggest name held back ahead of Saturday's Wembley semi-final
showdown against Everton, while leading goalscorer Luis Suarez and
defender Daniel Agger could also be rested.

Taking a tumble: Carroll endured a torrid time on his return to former club Newcastle

Taking a tumble: Carroll endured a torrid time on his return to former club Newcastle

Taking a tumble: Carroll endured a torrid time on his return to former club Newcastle

Taking a tumble: Carroll endured a torrid time on his return to former club Newcastle

Lewis Hamilton interview: I"m in love and in the groove

I'm in love and in the groove! Hamilton is relishing forthcoming F1 season

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UPDATED:

23:09 GMT, 12 March 2012

Lewis Hamilton can't wait for the new season. His McLaren looks on the pace, he is back with popstar girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger and is embarking on a new life in the Monaco sunshine.

Before heading to Australia for the Formula One season opener in Melbourne on Sunday, Hamilton took time out to tell Sportsmail how he has prepared for the most crucial campaign of his career.

He also got the chance to scare the living daylights out of Simon Cass on the Top Gear track…

Winning formula: Life is good for Hamilton on and off the track

Winning formula: Life is good for Hamilton on and off the track

When you were travelling to the USA after last season, did you sit on the flight pondering what you did wrong and what you could have done differently

HAMILTON: 'I did that over there. I tried to see where my strengths were, the races where I was strong and the races where I can improve.

'And there's definitely quite a few where I can improve! It's more, I guess, all about being in the right place at the right time.

'In Malaysia, for example, I flat-spotted a tyre which led to me having to use the wrong set of tyres, which then led to me running seventh, which then led to me having a penalty with Fernando (Alonso). It's just about trying to avoid those pitfalls.'

Monaco was perhaps the scene of your greatest torment both on and off the track last year (Hamilton was handed two drive-through penalties for collisions before blasting the stewards after the race with an ill-judged joke about the colour of his skin). What went wrong

HAMILTON: 'I had a lot going on at the time, my mind was not clear. And when your mind isn't clear then your decisions are overshadowed, you aren't able to think clearly.'

Loving life: Hamilton's relationship with Scherzinger is back on track

Loving life: Hamilton's relationship with Scherzinger is back on track

Did you feel you made some uncharacteristic mistakes last year, like your crash with Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi in Belgium, after which you apologised and admitted you didn't see him

HAMILTON: 'Yeah, I think that's just a case of being more switched on, more aware of your surroundings, being more alert. That's what I've tried to make sure I am.'

Do you feel the troubles that you have had were character building

HAMILTON: 'It is what it is. I'd love to be sitting here with three world championships under my belt. But I definitely don't regret what's happened and the experiences I've had. I think I'm better for it and hopefully that will help with future races.'

Is there any sense that success in your career came too quickly, that you didn't have to learn to cope with difficulties like you endured last year

HAMILTON: 'What people tend to forget is the journey that I had getting to Formula One. There were plenty of years where I had to learn about losing and having bad races. So I have had that experience coming up but it's a bit different in Formula One.

'You're stuck in front of millions of people and comments are made. If I'm really honest, I'm pretty sure that if the car was the same as it was in 2007 and 2008 I think you'd be seeing a different person sitting here, but that wasn't the case.'

Testing times: The rehearsals are over - the fun can now begin for real

Testing times: The rehearsals are over – the fun can now begin for real

Testing times: The rehearsals are over - the fun can now begin for real

This will be your sixth season in Formula One. Have you achieved as much as you hoped by this stage of your career

HAMILTON: 'I would like to have achieved more but the journey I have been on was mapped out for me, I think, and the learning curve has been quite steep.

'I am only 27 so I have some time if I am racing as long as Michael (Schumacher). My commitment has never really changed. The way you divide up your time can be better but I feel great, I am in a good place.'

You joined McLaren aged just 13, but after such a tough 2011 have you lost some of that boyish enthusiasm for racing

HAMILTON: 'Even messing around in that car (the MP4-12C GT3), I was still very much a kid with a new toy. I can't wait to get back into the car. I enjoyed all the testing and each day I wanted to do more and more laps, but we ran out of time.

'I'm really looking forward to getting back out and racing, especially in Australia which is one of my favourite places.'

So are you looking forward to getting back into your new car more than in the past few years

HAMILTON: 'In 2009 I wasn't too keen to get into it (thanks to an underperforming McLaren, Hamilton did not make the podium until the 10th race, the Hungarian GP, which he won).

'The last couple of years the cars were not bad, but this one does feel better than it did this time last year.'

What's the attraction Hamilton has moved to Monaco

What's the attraction Hamilton has moved to Monaco

What's the attraction Hamilton has moved to Monaco

You have decided to swap living in Switzerland for a new life in Monaco. What prompted that decision

HAMILTON: 'I just fancied a change. It was a bit boring where I was living, not many people around, so it was good to move. Where I have moved to there are a lot of people I know so there is a bit more of a social life, better weather and by the sea – just better.

'My trainer lives just up the road so we have settled down quite well. I moved a week or so ago. I still have loads of boxes to unpack but I am sure I can get someone to do that for me. I definitely plan to spend a lot more time at home.'

Is the competition stronger this season because there are six world champions on the grid

HAMILTON: 'You say that, but there are quite a lot of good drivers and have been for some time. There was a bigger difference in the cars. A lot more drivers are able to excel because they have better cars; the competition is closer because of that.

'Winning a world championship like this one, with so many great world champions out there, it'll definitely be one of the most valuable.'

In a spin: Hamilton takes Sportsmail's man for a ride

Roy Hodgson backs Andre Villa-Boas to weather Chelsea storm

West Brom's Hodgson backs Villas-Boas to weather Chelsea storm

West Bromwich Albion manager Roy Hodgson hast backed Andre Villas-Boas to come good at Chelsea.

The future of the Portuguese is under fresh scrutiny following the Blues's first-ever Premier League defeat by Albion.

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas (left) and West Bromwich Albion manager Roy Hodgson

Under pressure: Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas looks on as his side loses to Hodgson's West Brom

Hodgson, who suffered months of torment and abuse before being sacked by Liverpool last season, said: ‘If he is to be successful, he will need time to stamp his authority on the team. I fully believe, given time, he will be successful.’

Hodgson, delighted to be in charge of an Albion team who clinched a first league win over Chelsea in 33 years, added: ‘It has not started as well as he would have liked but to build a team takes time. There is no magic wand.

‘The fact is he has been a successful manager at Porto, who play some good football, and, of course, I sympathise with what he is going through. But it is times like this that make you stronger.

'And the day when we managers don’t stand up for each other would be a sad day for the profession. It is up to us to identify with the problems we all face.’

Centre-back Gareth McAuley’s second goal for the club clinched victory and boosts the Albion’s hopes of finishing the top team in the West Midlands for the first time in 33 years.

‘I think we can be proud of a good performance from start to finish against a well organised, well drilled Chelsea team who came here to try to win,’ said Hodgson.

Alan Shearer the favourite as Blackburn prepare to sack Steve Kean

Shearer favourite to take over as Blackburn prepare to sack Kean

Alan Shearer is the front-runner to take over as Blackburn manager as owners Venky”s prepare to put an end to Steve Kean”s public torment.

Venky”s bosses are studying reports of Saturday”s shambolic home defeat by West Bromwich before deciding whether to axe Kean now or hand him one final opportunity, in Tuesday”s basement battle with Bolton.

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Al”s your man: Former Newcastle boss Alan Shearer is being tipped to take over at Blackburn

Either way, former Blackburn striker Shearer is ready to step in after being nominated by key advisers as the prime candidate to restore harmony at a club riven by public opposition to Kean and plummeting player morale.

Monday”s Lancashire Evening Telegraph, the influential local newspaper, is expected to call for Kean”s removal in a front page editorial.

Fall guy: Steve Kean shows his pain during defeat against West Brom

Fall guy: Steve Kean shows his pain during defeat against West Brom

After a brief spell in charge of Newcastle, it is understood Shearer is interested in taking the reins, despite Blackburn”s perilous position near the foot of the Barclays Premier League and the likelihood that he would have only a modest budget in the January transfer window.

As Venky”s consider their options, they may well be swayed by Shearer”s standing among Ewood Park patrons after he spearheaded Blackburn”s title success in 1995.

Kean refused to concede his sacking was inevitable, despite more chants of “You don”t know what you”re doing” during Saturday”s 2-1 defeat.

“We have a massive game against Bolton on Tuesday, and yes, I do believe I will still be here for that,” Kean said.

“There have always been reassurances from the owners, and I haven”t heard anything to the contrary.”

Kean added: “Because the players don”t play well with the ball for one half of one game does not mean the negativity is getting to them.”

Chris Samba”s assessment was at odds with Kean”s and underlined the task facing Blackburn”s next manager in trying to lift morale.

“We are devastated,” said the Blackburn skipper. “We are so low. As a team, we have not proved we are good enough to stay in this league. It is difficult at the moment, because the mood in the dressing room is down.”

The timing of Kean”s departure appears to be the only remaining issue. As Rovers followed their normal procedure of examining matchday feedback from their beleaguered boss and director Simon Hunt, Venky”s were attempting to reach an agreement on when he should go.

They have been left in little doubt that Shearer should be appointed sooner rather than later, though former Blackburn manager Mark Hughes and Avram Grant are also in the frame.

Blunt message: Blackburn fans make their feelings known

Blunt message: Blackburn fans make their feelings known

Blackburn v West Brom Match Zone