Paddy Lacey, a former footballer banned and jailed for drugs, reveals how his public fall from grace will help Manchester United prospect brother Phil Foden and Lionel Messi reach his full potential
Former footballer Paddy Lacey has revealed how his public fall from favor acts as a valuable lesson for his younger brothers who are pursuing careers in the sport.
Lacey was once a promising prospect who spent time on the books at Sheffield Wednesday and Bradford City before finding his feet at Barrow and earning a move to Accrington Stanley.
However, Lacey’s career came crashing down in 2017 when he was handed a 14-month ban by the Football Association for admitting he broke anti-doping rules following a positive test for benzoylecgonine, a drug. cocaine metabolite.
A few months later, the 29-year-old was sentenced to 16 months in prison when he was found in possession of 20.3 grams of cocaine, 16.8 grams of MDMA and £520 in counterfeit £20 notes at Glastonbury Festival.
Lacey served five months of his sentence before being released and, seeking to get his football career back on track, suffered a serious knee injury which led to multiple operations and sepsis.
The Liverpudlian has finally returned to full fitness and was, until recently, playing football at a semi-professional level for Warrington Rylands.
He also has a carpet installation business and is back in the sport as a boxer who extended his perfect professional record to 7-0 on Liam Smith’s undercard against Hassan Mwakinyo last September.
Lacey is living his soccer dream vicariously through his younger brothers Luis and Shea who are just starting out in the sport.
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Luis, who just turned 18, was recently with Barnsley and is currently receiving offers from clubs who want to make him a professional footballer.
Meanwhile, at just 15, Shea is already one of the country’s most exciting young prospects and often goes viral for his performances in Manchester United academy games.
The teenager, who can play anywhere on the forward line, is often compared to Manchester City star Phil Foden.
Shea continued to show his potential last weekend when he netted a left-footed effort from the edge of the box in his side’s 3-3 draw with Wolves Under-18s.
Paddy thinks his younger brother is already better than he ever was and is destined to play at the highest level.
He told talkSPORT: “Shea is at Man United, just made his debut for England. He’s 15, a real whirlwind I think. A real Champions League player, I think. I think Man United would say so themselves.
“He’s been all over the world playing tournaments against Real Madrid, Barcelona, Ajax and I think he’s had around eight or nine tournament players since he was 12.
Like many, the former footballer believes his brother’s playing style is similar to Foden’s, despite being one of a small contingent of fans who have dubbed Shea ‘The Scouse Messi’.
Lacey added: “I know I’m biased because he’s my little brother but he’s very reminiscent of Phil Foden. [Lionel] Messi is just shouting what happened on Twitter. I don’t know who called it first, but we kind of jumped on it.
“Messi is his hero, plays quite similar and I really hope he will do something because he is much better than me and his older brother Luis.”
Lacey says Shea was there to witness the pinnacle of her career and also saw it all fall apart due to her behavior off the pitch.
Paddy revealed: “He was watching me against Bradford in the FA Cup in front of thousands, against Luton in front of 12,000 – he was there with my dad and Luis watching me.
“Fast forward six months and I’m sitting with a bib in a jail room like ak***head and he’s seen me go from hero to zero. So he knows if you get it wrong everything can come undone .
“I thought the way I was playing at Accrington, I was going up the football pyramid not down and the whole family thought I was going to do well and reach the level I could and should have gone to.”
Paddy hasn’t necessarily had a conversation with his rising star brothers about staying on track, given that his mistakes are openly discussed in his family.
He concluded: “Shea saw the fall, but he saw me rebuilding myself through boxing and my business. He is perfectly aware, it’s no secret with us, we talk about it all the time.
“They are aware of this and they have already learned a lot of lessons. They are smart kids. You don’t want to look like that crazy year I had.
“So I think it’s actually helped them in their careers to see firsthand what can go wrong if you don’t protect yourself as a young boy.”
Lacey will continue his sporting career on March 11 as he looks to improve his boxing record to 8-0 at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena – for tickets contact Paddy via Instagram.