Paul Merson has ‘no idea’ how he performed while taking coke on way to training

Paul Merson says he has "no idea" how he managed to perform when he was taking cocaine on his way to training.

The former England star has spent most of his adult life in the grip of addictions, but it was a 10-month stint taking the Class A drug on an almost daily basis that "brought me to my knees", he says.

Merson admitted his addictions in a bombshell press conference in November 1994.

It put him out of football for three months after the FA forced him to complete a three-month rehabilitation programme.

Despite his addictions, Merson was still able to turn in performances on the pitch during the first half of the 1994/95 season, despite taking cocaine on a daily basis, including on his way to the training ground.

He reckons if he had carried on taking the drug for much longer he "wouldn't be here now".

The former England star said: "I don't know how I managed to perform in training.

"I never took it on a Thursday or Friday before a match but at the start of the week I would be sniffing it on the way to training.

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"I've had long spells of being sober, managed to resist the compulsion to gamble for periods of various lengths and have gone nearly three decades without wanting to go anywhere near cocaine, the third addictive illness which brought me to my knees in barely 10 months in 1994.

"Coke took me to the brink of madness and I'm certain, if I'd carried on, that I wouldn't be here now."

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Merson said his teammates were "shocked" when the news broke of his cocaine, alcohol and gambling addictions.

The ex-midfielder was a key member of Arsenal's famed 'Tuesday Club'.

It featured heavy drinking sessions in the middle of the week in the 1980s and 1990s, normally led by team captain Tony Adams and featuring the likes of Merson, Lee Dixon and Perry Groves.

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Merson's addictions cost him his first marriage and he claims the amount of cocaine he took in 1994 was actually downplayed after he come forward seeking help.

Merson said: "When I came forward at the end of the year, confessed, begged for help and went into treatment, it suited everybody to play down the amount of cocaine I stuck up my nose from February to November 1994.

"I think I said I'd spent about £2,000 on it on my own and shared some more. That works out at about 40 wraps of a gram each.

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"It was way, way more than that. At its worst I was doing a couple of grams down the pub, and I was out all the time, then many more at home, on my own, sitting in the dark gambling, drinking and snorting.

"I knew how serious it was but I was ashamed.

"What started with the chopping out of lines in a toilet cubicle in a Hertfordshire pub ended with me driven to the brink of madness, alone at home, broken, twitchy, paranoid, suicidal, naked, crumpled in the corner, crying my eyes out, utterly helpless."

Hooked by Paul Merson is out now (Headline, £20).

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