At the age of 30, Royston Drenthe has retired from football and recent began discussing his rough childhood, drinking habits and what went wrong for him in the game.
With the Dutchman most well-known for his time at Real Madrid, where he featured for the first-team between 2007 and 2010, he actually made more appearances at Reading (23) than anywhere else aside from Los Blancos and his debut team, Feyenoord.
“I've had good moments and bad moments. But I don't look back with regret. Could I have done things differently? Well, yes. But that's life, you have to carry on,” Drenthe told MARCA in a recent interview.
“[I retired] because I wasn't happy. I was tired, depressed, hopeless... It didn't make me happy playing professional football, I didn't like that world. Bad things happened to me and I was playing in the Emirates, one day I just said that's enough, I quit.
“I had problems with agents, with people who tried to get close to me... I don't want to give names but in football there are a lot of people who aren't honest.
“I signed things and then they would pay me something completely different, always a lot less than we had discussed. What happened there? Well, you can imagine, you know how these things go.
“I love football, it's been my life... But the people around football aren't always good. That's why now I play to enjoy myself with my friends.”
While Drenthe was not asked specifically about life in Berkshire by the Madrid-based newspaper, he did explain how quickly his life changed after moving to Real.
“I arrived at Real Madrid at 20 years old as the best player in the under 21 European Championships and in my first game I scored a wonder-goal against Sevilla. Everyone expected a lot of my and I put the bar high. It's hard to deal with that at 20 years old,” he continued.
“I went from living with my mum in a small house to living in a chalet worth millions. Life changes you completely and sometimes it's not easy to take it all in.”
Furthermore, the former winger opened up on his tough childhood and how partying may not have derailed his playing chances, but probably didn’t help.
“Did you know that my dad was killed when I was three? They murdered him in the street. My mum hid it from me for quite a while to protect me. She told me it was an accident, but the reality was something else,” noted Drenthe.
“I went out, yes. Not every night, as they said. But a lot of nights, yes. We went to Buddha and had a great time. Very often I had to go out in secret because it wasn't the right time. It wasn't easy to say ‘no’ every night because as a Real Madrid player you are offered a lot. Madrid is a beautiful city, there are a lot of restaurants, a lot of parties, beautiful girls... And you are young, a player for Real Madrid... It puts a lot of temptations in front of you and if you aren't totally focused...
“I don't agree [that the nightlife responsible for his career going downhill]. I never arrived late to training and I worked really hard. Honestly why I left Madrid wasn't for that reason. I think that I had good moments, but, at the end of the day, football is complicated and even more so in Madrid. But about the club, I only have good words. They were always good to me.”