World Cup - Townsend: Betting ban kickstarted my career

Andros Townsend claims that he owes his amazing surge into the England team to the lowest moment of his career: the moment he was banned from the game for making illegal bets.

World Cup - Townsend: Betting ban kickstarted my career

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England's Andros Townsend celebrates scoring his team's third goal against Montenegro (Reuters)

The Tottenham winger was reported by a bookmaker earlier this year for placing bets on Spurs in a Europa League match.

Though Townsend didn't play in the game, FA rules prohibit players from betting on teams in competitions that they have been directly involved in. His participation in a game earlier in the season thus made him fall foul of the rules, resulting in a ban and an £18,000 fine that he did not contest.

The player admitted openly what he had done, not realising that he'd broken the rules - and after it cost him his place in the European U21 Championships over the summer, he knew it was time to smarten up his act.

"Summer was bad for me. I had the chance to go to the Under-21s tournament and obviously, it didn’t happen," he said.

"But it gave me the chance to relax, to think about the season ahead, to get my head right - I have come back stronger. That’s what I had planned to do."

Despite those plans, Townsend admits that he never thought he could achieve so much, so quickly after spending several seasons out on loan with nine different clubs in four years.

"It has been fantastic, beyond my expectations. But now it’s down to me to keep my performances going," Townsend added.

"I have had to wait a long time to get my chance in the spotlight. I have had nine loans in the lower leagues, so I am not going to get carried away and then let my form dip. I want to try to stay at the top for as long as possible."

The overnight stardom has taken him completely by surprise - but he's determined that it won't tempt him into other indiscretions as he is determined to make the most of his opportunities.

"Even in the summer, when I was on my holidays, I never dreamt I would be playing week-in, week-out for my club as well as having two caps for England under my belt," he said.

"I am a grounded boy. I have got a good family. They won’t let me get ahead of myself.

"I have seen it before where players have had great starts to their international careers and then they have faded -- so I can’t let that happen.

"I live for football. I am not one of those who goes out drinking or partying. On a Saturday night, I go home and watch the Spanish football on TV. It’s all about the game for me.”

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