Middlesbrough's Woodgate: I've learned the hard way

Middlesbrough defender Jonathan Woodgate offers no excuses for his conviction for affray seven years ago and admits the experience brought many home truths.

Woodgate told the Daily Express: "Now I look back I wish I had sometimes been a bit stronger in myself. I have had mates selling stories on me, which I find difficult to take.

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In the past I would let people off if they did disloyal things, but I'm definitely different now. I do hold a grudge. You have to otherwise you just get walked over.

"You have got to have a mind of your own. You can't blame other people for your mistakes. I wasn't the innocent one all the time. If I did something wrong I take the rap for it.

"Somebody will always ask about the court case. I sometimes think, let's put that in the past, but it always crops up. If I score the World Cup final winning goal they might start to say Jonathan Woodgate, World Cup winner, not Jonathan Woodgate, convicted of affray - and it was seven years ago.

"I try to just get on with my life as well as I can and put it in the past, but even now I know there are rumours, just made-up stories about me. I have heard the one about me burning £20 notes about 50 times. If I ever did that my dad would kill me.

"As a footballer you always get these silly stories flying around. A lot of players have it, so in that sense I am no different."

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