Sheffield United: ‘I’ve had a bit of bother when I’ve had a drink in me - but I’m a nice lad’ admits Gary Madine as Blades striker opens up about off-field troubles and homesickness at Cardiff City
Gary Madine, the Sheffield United striker, has opened up about the off-field troubles that have punctuated his playing career, insisting: “I’m actually a nice lad.”
The 28-year-old, who signed for United on loan for the rest of the season from Premier League side Cardiff City in the January transfer window, scored his first goals for the club in last weekend’s 4-0 hammering of Reading at Bramall Lane.
The former Wednesday striker has impressed coaching staff and teammates alike with his attitude since making the controversial switch, and was praised by United boss Chris Wilder for even contemplating the move in the first place.
Madine, who was jailed during his time at Wednesday for two seperate attacks on fans of both the Owls and Blades in Sheffield night spots, was also filmed abusing Blades captain Billy Sharp on camera in 2017.
But after a string of all-action performances on the field, he was substituted to a standing ovation against Reading and, after being voted the sponsors’ man of the match by supporters, opened up on his past in an honest post-game interview.
“I’ve had my troubles off the pitch but ask anyone who I’ve worked for, and no-one will say a bad word about me in the club,” Madine told BBC Radio Sheffield.
“When I signed I saw a few fans say that I’d rock the dressing room, but I know Chris did his homework on me and, believe it or not, I’m actually a nice lad and I get on with all the lads here.
“Fair enough, I’ve had a bit of bother when I’ve had a drink in me but day to day, I turn up, do my work and go home without a peep.
“That’s not to say I’ll never have a drink again, though. I’m learning as I get older to pick and choose when to have a drink, rather than thinking I can go out every Saturday and Tuesday and perform at a high level.
“That’s probably why my career stalled a little bit, because I was doing that and you can’t afford to at this level.
“You have to be bang at it all the time and pick and choose when you have a little drink. I’ve learned the hard way.”
“Sometimes you need good people around you,” Madine added.
“At Wednesday, we got promoted and instead of the manager putting his arm around me, saying I needed to do this or that better, he literally shut the door on me.
“As a 21 or 22-year-old kid, what else am I meant to do? Some people may have done things differently but I needed a release from football, and the only thing I knew was to go out to a bar or a nightclub.
“I know now you can’t do that but you learn from experience and I’m glad now that I’ve got good people around me. The gaffer and his staff trust me, the lads are great and the fans are great, so all’s good.”
Madine served five months of his 18-month jail sentence after being convicted of causing actual bodily harm and grevious bodily harm, and returned to the Owls side the following season before being sent on loan to Coventry City and Blackpool.
A productive spell at Bolton Wanderers – which included scoring the winner at Bramall Lane in December 2017 – led to a £6m move to Neil Warnock’s Cardiff, who Madine helped into the Premier League as the Bluebirds finished second behind runaway winners Wolves.
“I didn’t really get going at Cardiff and felt a bit hard done by at times,” Madine added.
“I’d play the difficult games away from home and when we had a so-called easier game at home, I wasn’t playing. I wasn’t getting any chances so I lost fitness, confidence and goals, and it wasn’t a good place for me.
“I was six hours away from home and I’m a bit of a home boy, I like being home which I am now, three or four times a week. As you can tell by the way I’m playing, I’ve got a smile on my face and I’m buzzing.”
Madine, who went 24 games without a goal before his brace against Reading, could make his seventh appearance in United colours this weekend when Wilder’s men travel to promotion rivals West Brom.
“I know judgement of me will always be on the harsher side and I read all the stuff about ‘rocking the dressing room’,” Madine admitted.
“But hopefully the fans can see what I bring. No-one can question my loyalty to United after I ran my socks off against Reading and hurt myself trying to make a tackle!
“I had another option to move to which was probably better for my own head, to be at home, but football-wise this is perfect for me.
“I believe we’re the best team in the league and play the best football, so this is where I had to be for footballing reasons.”