Danny Drinkwater is open to re-joining Leicester City and helping them return to the Premier League; midfielder who has been out of the game for a year also discusses Dele's interview, the challenges of media scrutiny and his time at Chelsea in exclusive interview with Sky Sports
Monday 17 July 2023 16:38, UK
Danny Drinkwater has his eyes set on a return to former club Leicester City and says Dele's interview resonated with him after having also suffered in the public eye.
It's almost 10 years since he was part of the Leicester team that was promoted to the Premier League, two seasons before their famous title win in 2015/16.
Drinkwater, refreshed after a year away from football, is now keen to help the Foxes return to the top flight.
"I'd one hundred per cent go back to Leicester, it's a special place for me," he told Sky Sports News in an exclusive interview. "To help them get back to the Premier League is something I'd love to do.
"It was hard to watch [their relegation]. You look at the squad and it's full of talent.
"They should see this as a reset. They had such a successful period before relegation, winning the FA Cup and Community Shield. If you go back 10 years, we were in the Championship and then look at what the club did in the next six to seven years.
"They're in such a better place now than when I joined, they can get back up easily."
Almost a year ago, Drinkwater sat down with Sky Sports News with his Chelsea contract finished and the midfielder looking for a new club. Fast forward to July 2023 and he is yet to find a new footballing home.
He spoke to Sky Sports News on the same day that Dele's revealing interview with Gary Neville was released. The former Leicester man played with Dele for England, having also suffered at the hands of media scrutiny with issues going on in his personal life.
In 2019 Drinkwater was handed a 20-month driving ban and instructed to carry out 70 hours' community service after admitting drink-driving. Later that year he was allegedly attacked by a group of men while drunk outside a Manchester nightclub.
"It's probably the only interview I've watched from start to finish," Drinkwater said of Dele's conversation with Neville.
"I've been through a part of his career with him. There's media platforms which are great, but there's others that try and destroy people in and out of sport.
"Who does that benefit for a bit of money? When you're playing you can half ignore it, but when you're not playing, it can affect you and before you know it other things start to go wrong."
Drinkwater has been able to escape that scrutiny during a year out of the game. The time away has given the 33-year-old fresh perspective and a new hunger to get back into football, if the right offer comes along.
Drinkwater: "It's been a really good year. It felt nice to open up last year, I got good feedback about that.
"But since then, nothing's come up football wise that's really excited me. I was getting offers but nothing sat right at the time.
"If you go back two or three years, to the Chelsea scenario, I was in such a rut.
"I'm probably hungrier to play football now than I've been in years. This year out, it's helped me refresh and keep sharp mentally and physically. I've not wanted to play football this much since I was 16.
"I've missed the group environment, the banter, the routine. You can do a certain amount away from football but there's certain things you don't get.
"Sometimes people think you're desperate for money and a job. I don't need more money, it's not about that."
After winning the Premier League in 2016, Drinkwater signed for Chelsea for £35m in 2017. Twenty-two appearances in his first season after starting his Chelsea career with an injury saw a decent start but next season the arrival of Maurizio Sarri saw his game time reduced dramatically.
"I had things going on in the past. I've learned quite a lot over a period and improved as a person. It's nice when you come through a tough period and show how strong you can be."
Speaking to Sky Sports News just before undertaking a session of kinetic therapy by Tendai Trafford, Drinkwater described himself as a "badly used" asset at Chelsea.
"It's been and gone," he said. "A lot of people say 'you sat there and took the money'.
"I spent five years at the club, if those first three went well I would've signed a new contract on better money.
"So have I sat there and been there for money? Or have I been so badly used as an asset that they've cost me two years of higher money?
"But I can understand people's views from outside. They might pick up a tabloid that says something about you and that's all they can hear."
Tendai started his journey with massage therapy and multi-dry needling before becoming a specialist in instrument assisted soft tissue mobilisation with Kinetic Therapy.
It's a form of treatment, using bespoke metal tools, that aims to release soft tissue restrictions in the body.
It's a method he believes more footballers and athletes will start using.
Trafford: "Kinetic therapy is based on the ancient art of Gua Sha which means to scrape. We use bespoke tools to lengthen the muscle. The inflammation kickstarts the body's natural healing process.
"The body is a series of interconnected structures, if we heal one structure, we can pay the way to heal another structure.
"I've been to physio and chiropractors. The unique nature of kinetic therapy is I believe we can get athletes returning from injury at an unparalleled pace compared to other versions of sports medicine.
"If you aren't injured and you want to prevent injury it can keep you away from the physios.
"A lot of athletes in the footballing world have ACL tears. Once they've had their surgery, it's a difficult process to get back on the pitch. Through kinetic therapy we can prevent further injuries and enhance how you perform on the pitch."