Vincent Péricard, a former striker who played for the likes of Portsmouth and Stoke City, has revealed how a text to a club director's girlfriend ended his chances of success as an 18 year old at Italian giants Juventus.
Péricard, who was the subject of a fascinating documentary entitled The Man Who Will Be Worth Billions, recalls how he was star struck when he moved to Turin as he joined a squad boasting the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Edgar Davids and David Trezegut. He says his inexperience as a youngster prevented him from truly kicking on.
"I knew I was good, but I never dreamed- or expected- to be picked up by Juventus," Péricard recalls, as quoted by Planet Football. "I didn't feel any pressure but, looking back, maybe it was because I was 18 and naïve.
Zidane, I remember, moving past me with the ball so effortlessly, as if he was flying, while Del Piero's first touch was absolutely faultless."
That said, Péricard enjoyed a very strong start to life at the club, becoming the top scorer of The Bianconeri's second string and making his first team debut away to Arsenal in the Champions League in March 2002. However, he went on to explain how things quickly fell apart after one night out with fellow academy players Aboubacar Fofana and Frantz Bertin.
Péricard detailed how the trio went out for a drink and decided to invite their Italian tutor along. Within moments of sending a text to her, Péricard received a phone call from a Juventus director, demanding why he had invited his girlfriend out.
A few days later, all three players were shipped out of the club on loan, with Péricard joining Harry Redknapp's Portsmouth on loan.
"The text message did not go down well, at all. Later, one of the directors called me into his office and told me I was going to England. It was the end of my time at Juventus.
I didn't do anything malicious and Juventus' reaction was excessive. It was a shock to the system."
Following spells with several clubs in the Football League, Péricard began to struggle off the field, fighting alcohol and gambling addictions. He went to jail in 2007 for perverting the cause of justice after he was caught speeding and contemplated suicide after being diagnosed with depression.
Retiring in 2011, Péricard earnt a first-class degree in Business Enterprise Development from the University of Plymouth, followed by a Masters in Accounting and Finance. He has also set up a management company which supports foreign players when they first move to Britain and is an alumnus of the BT graduate scheme, co-operating with companies like Coca-Cola and Unilever.
Péricard says he is in a much better place now than he was during his playing days but says he still has some regrets about his playing career unfolded.
"There is so much more understanding about mental health today," he concluded. "I just wish I knew then what I know now.
It would not only have helped me but others who were going through the same struggles. I do wish I had never texted that Italian tutor, but I still think what happened after it was an overreaction."
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