The retired England soccer player – who recently got engaged to former ‘TOWIE’ star Kate Wright – has revealed that at the start of his professional sports career he was a heavy drinker and used to go out after playing games because that was the culture at the London club and amongst footballers in the UK in general.
In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, Rio said: “I used to get through a load when I was younger. I could probably do eight, nine, 10 [pints of Guinness]. Then I’d move on to the vodkas. I could go through loads. I could go all day drinking, then wake up and go again when I was younger.
“I always say to people who ask if I have any regrets about playing, I wouldn’t have drunk alcohol.”
“It would be after a game – Saturday or Sunday. It was a different culture. Crazy. The culture I was in at West Ham was a drinking culture. Football and drinks and nightclubs, that’s the way it was. And that’s the way I lived at that time.”
Rio admits the early years of his playing career at West Ham – the London club he played for in the Premier League between 1995 and 2000 – are “a blur” because of his hard partying lifestyle as a young man.
He added: “When I was younger I was a lunatic. When I was at West Ham … elements of my career are a blur. People talk about performances and results at certain times in them games and I just sit and nod my head. I haven’t got a clue what they’re talking about. I don’t remember.”
Rio, 40, would never drink before matches and when he transferred to Manchester United from Leeds United in 2002 he stopped consuming alcohol completely during the season, but would relax during his vacation time in the summers.
Speaking about his previous drinking habits, he added: “In the summers I’d drink for two weeks. Bang. Just keep drinking.
“I was lucky. I had a natural ability that could get me through that period of my life. But I got to a point where I had to make a decision to be more professional.”