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Published On: Wed, Mar 22nd, 2017

West Brom ace Livermore opens up on past pain and his determination to shine for England


Today, he is back in the England squad and hopes his story proves there is always a chance of redemption.

Livermore, 27, had turned to drugs and booze to numb the pain of losing his baby boy, Jake, at birth the day after the 2014 FA Cup final. He was banned but his suspension was rescinded by the Football Association when the reasons became clear.

This is a footballer who now tours schools and junior football clubs warning of the dangers and temptations that can face well-paid young men in professional sport; the drugs, the alcohol, the hangers on.

Ahead of tonight’s friendly against Germany, the West Brom midfielder spoke with strength and dignity about his past and believes there is always a way back from the darkest of personal depths.

Which is why he talks to the kids at schools and why he contacted and still speaks to Bournemouth’s Harry Arter, whose baby daughter was stillborn in December 2015.

The two have now become friends, with both recipients of better news when Livermore’s partner gave birth to a son, Jayce, last year and Arter’s wife giving birth to a daughter, Raine, in February.

“The path I was going down was to deal with disappointments in life,” says Livermore. “Everyone has their own story. There has been others since. Harry at Bournemouth has and I’m over the moon he’s now out the other side. I did reach out to him, if there was any point where he needed me. We became good friends.

“People forget that footballers are human beings too. The manager had a meeting and he said that we are very much people. He shared his career, the disappointments.

“Football was a platform for me to propel my life. I have children now and I want to be able to show them that they can be proud of their dad.”

Livermore’s last and only previous England appearance had been as a substitute in a friendly against Italy in August 2012. At one point it looked like that would be it.

“I thought England was gone for me,” he says. “But the manager seems to pick players on current form. I’m thankful for that. Hopefully I can do myself, the people who helped me and my country proud.

“I just wanted to get back into club football and put a positive spin on my career for those who stuck by me – the FA being among them. Having this opportunity to repay them is great.”

Livermore, who joined Albion from Hull for £10million in January, is now setting up a charitable foundation. “There’s too many people to mention who helped me. Obviously all my family, Hull City were fantastic and the FA were and have remained so.

“Now we’re doing our best to work with others who may need anything. I’ve been into various clubs and youth teams, to see if they have any young prospects who may have other influences. It’s nice to be able to help, because when I really needed it I was fortunate to have that.

“It was something I wanted to do. I went to see one of my old teachers at Enfield Grammar School, David Alder, who was very supportive. There were children in the excluded unit section there, where they are taken away from the other kids.

“He asked me if I could sit and talk with a lad who was very talented at football. I told him about my experiences and how you have to stay focused. Things can always come full circle.”

Livermore started his career as a trainee at MK Dons before his local club Tottenham picked him up. Several loan moves followed before he joined Hull, but a switch to Albion was the logical move for a player now very much on the up.

He sent a message of thanks to Hull when he left. “Hull are very important to me, the fans, my team-mates,” he says. “It’s a special club. But this was a good move for me. West Brom are doing very well and it’s a different challenge coming from a team that was struggling. England has not been first on my list. I’ve just been enjoying my club football.

“But I just hope this shows that there is always a way back. I’ve worked hard to try and get my career back on track and this is the dream for me from where I was. But it’s just the start of what I’d like to do.”



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