Ex-Leeds star on jail and why it goes over head when hes called a w*****

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Mark Aizlewood is a name that will be familiar to football fans of a certain age.

Having started off with Newport County in the mid-1970s, Aizlewood, now 65, had a long and successful career in the Football League with the likes of Charlton, Leeds, Bradford and Cardiff City.

He also won 39 caps for Wales, playing alongside the likes of Neville Southall, Vinnie Jones, Dean Saunders, Ian Rush and Gary Speed during the late 80s and early 90s.

Aizlewood hung up his boots in 2000, but returned to the game in 2012 as manager of Welsh Premier League side Carmarthen Town, a post he held for eight years – until he was sentenced to time in prison.

In January 2018 Aizlewood was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation by offering non-existent sports leadership apprenticeships.

Earlier this year he was released from prison halfway through his six-year sentence and he's now back as a coach at Carmarthen, who were relegated after he was jailed.

Speaking to Wales Online, Aizlewood said he is not worried about how he is viewed by the general public, and that it goes over his head if someone calls him a "w*****."

He said: "Even now aged 61, the vast majority of people in Wales over a certain age would have an opinion of myself if they were asked.

"Now there is nothing wrong with that but from my perspective 99.9% of those people I have never spoken a word to in my life and yet they will have a strong opinion of me.

"What you become hardened to over the years is that you don't listen to that criticism.

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"I would only worry about the people who know me, who are close to me and who have spent time with me. If they thought I was a w***** then I would worry.

"When somebody who was never met me or spoke to me says I'm a w***** it just goes over my head now."

Aizlewood did his time and is now out the other side, and the veteran coach revealed that hunger for learning was what got him through his prison experience.

"I did a course inside and became a Samaritans trained listener in jail," he added.

"Anyone who is feeling suicidal could call and you would go to their cell and you would talk through the problems with them. It was another element of what I did to make my time worthwhile.

“If you end up in prison you can go one of two ways. you can wallow in self-pity and eat yourself fat and unhealthy and blame the world blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.


"Or you can go the other way and say how am I going to use this time? You have a lot of time in prison, how are you going to use it?

"I worked for the education department and I did an additional five or six CPD [Continuing Professional Development] courses for myself as well.

"I kept myself on a path. I like learning. I did alcohol and drug awareness courses, I did the Samaritans course, I did criminology ironically.

"I kept myself and my brain going so I knew when I came out of there I would be ready to go back into family life. If you come out having been a vegetable for three years you can't easily go back to normal."

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