ALAN KNIGHT doesn’t want any sympathy.
Gone are the days when he sought comfort in the form of a pint in a Portsmouth side-street pub.
No longer does he bury his head in his pillow for solace rather than run the risk of abandoning his bed.
True, life after football has been cruel to the Pompey legend.
It saw his marriage end, drove him to alcoholism and sent him spiralling into depression.
The most recent bombshell struck Knight on Monday when the 49-year-old was declared bankrupt with five-figure debts. Another body blow in the harsh post-football climate.
Unquestionably, there have been plenty of them in his 10 years since retiring from the game as Pompey’s second-highest appearance-maker.
In the struggle to make ends meet since retiring from a career that brought in a top wage of £1,000-a-week, Knight turned to digging holes for Waterlooville company Jackson Groundworks.
Yet, ultimately, he has managed to drag himself free from the wreckage of his life and dust himself down.
After a spell at the Sporting Chance Clinic, Knight hasn’t touched alcohol for 26 months.
During that time he met and married Heather, while became Aldershot’s part-time goalkeeping coach.
Knight may still dig holes to supplement his income.
But his life is very much on the up.
The man Pompey fans know as The Legend said: ‘I am not after sympathy. There are no excuses, it is just what has happened.
‘I am not blaming anyone else. I have got to hold my hands up and admit I made errors.
‘To be honest, I don’t think I have done anything wrong, I just made some bad decisions.
‘I was told to file for bankruptcy six years ago but, like a lot of people with debt accruing, I buried my head in the sand and hoped it wouldn’t come to this.
‘Since then I have actually paid a fifth of what I owe, without claiming any benefit.
‘I have always worked. I have definitely not sat on my backside. People have probably seen me digging holes on the A3. You are always hoping that you can get back to the big earnings you got as a footballer.
‘At that time the banks were throwing it at people like me – it was real boom and bust.
‘It became too much and on Monday I had to visit court to file for bankruptcy.
‘The official receiver will now assess my assets in the next 12 to 18 months to try to get some of the money back. But there is nothing there.
‘It’s strange but, if anything, it is a massive relief. Over the past two-and-a-half years I have turned things around. I’ve been putting everything straight and getting going again.
‘It’s not the end of the world. Nobody has died or anything like that so I’m staying positive.
‘I feel I have turned myself around from being a depressed alchy to quite a positive-thinking person.
‘People will have their own opinion and that is fair enough. I cannot worry about their feelings on it – they are entitled to that.
‘But I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. They shouldn’t do.’
Knight’s Pompey career spanned 22 years and saw him achieve the unique distinction of representing the club in four different decades.
In total, he amassed a staggering 801 appearances for his only Football League club – a feat which was recognised in the form of an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list in 2001.After retirement in 2000, he went on to serve as the Blues’ goalkeeping coach, before spending a year in America at FC Dallas alongside former Fratton team-mate Colin Clarke.
But it wasn’t until a stay at the Sporting Chance Clinic in Liphook in November 2008 that Knight was to get his life on track after football.
He added: ‘There has always been a popular perception of “Knightsie loves pubs”. There was a time when that wasn’t that far off, really.
‘I used to go into side-street boozers all the time.
‘Some of my best mates are landlords – and still are because they are good people.
‘I have never gambled in my life. I’ve been a drinker, a smoker and all of those things, but have never taken drugs or gambled.
‘In the end, I became depressed by it. It got to the point where I was not working and could not be bothered to get out of bed.
‘It was Warren Aspinall who recommended Sporting Chance to me while I was working as goalkeeping coach at Havant & Waterlooville.
‘He had already been there – so I went for four weeks and it put me on the straight and narrow.
‘They applied certain techniques which I took on board, while the counselling was good. That helped me have a more positive attitude to things and I will always be grateful.
‘A lot of people will go into rehab for the sake of it because sometimes it looks good. Sadly, it detracts from those who want to go there for the right reasons.
‘Since coming out of there I have been dry for 26 months – I don’t shant any more.
‘I ended up meeting a lovely lady in Heather and we got married in July. She has been a big factor in my recovery.
‘I didn’t want to be sitting in the pub any more. I knew I had to do something about it. Now I can get on with the rest of my life – and I have possibly never been this happy.’
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