England

Aston Villa's Barry Bannan in drink-drive regret

Aston Villa footballer Barry Bannan has said he is "lucky to be here" after crashing while drunk on the M1.

The midfielder, who was banned from driving for 18 months after admitting drinking and driving, was speaking as part of a West Midlands Police anti-drink-driving campaign.

He was fined £4,500 after crashing near Watnall, Nottinghamshire, in October.

Bannan, 22, said there would have been "no point in me living" had the crash resulted in any loss of life.

The Scotland international crashed his Range Rover Sport on 23 October, fled the scene and was arrested in a taxi office.

He was found to be almost twice the legal alcohol limit for driving.

'Huge mistake'

Nottingham Magistrates' Court heard he had been driving for about an hour when he hit the central reservation.

Bannan also admitted failing to stop after an accident, driving without due care and attention and driving on a provisional licence.

The midfielder said it was "a huge mistake" and would "never happen again".

He added: "As much as I regret it, I'm so lucky to be still here today.

"If I hit another car and killed someone else, then there's no point in me living, really, after the things that would be going through my head."

'Be the best'

Bannan, who was sentenced in November, was speaking on Tuesday as the face of the West Midlands force's Christmas Don't Drink and Drive Campaign.

The Scottish midfielder added he would not be tempted to repeat his mistake this festive season.

He said: "It'll still be with me for the rest of my life in the back of my head."

Villa manager Alex McLeish has backed Bannan to put it behind him.

McLeish said: "He's got to now totally concentrate and be totally professional and try to make himself the best he can possibly be."

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