FORMER Premier League footballer Troy Deeney has spoken about his time spent in a Warrington jail.

The ex-Watford striker, who now plays for Birmingham City, spent 13 weeks in HMP Thorn Cross after being locked up for affray in 2012 over his part in a street brawl following a night out in Birmingham City centre.

He was handed a 10-month sentence after kicking a student in the head as he lay on the ground.

Deeney has now recalled his time in the Appleton Thorn open prison, which he compared to a Butlin’s holiday camp – although it was where he ‘grew up’.

Warrington Guardian:

His comments were made in Redemption: My Story, a BBC series in which actor Samuel Anderson reads out the 33-year-old’s memoirs.

He was imprisoned only days after his dad’s funeral, and he was initially housed in HMP Birmingham before being transferred.

Deeney said: “After three weeks, they told me they were moving to another jail – Thorn Cross prison in Warrington.

“It was an open prison, but I didn’t understand what that was at first. It was like a Butlin’s, a big complex with a low fence all the way around it.

“The guy at reception gave me a key to the room – they just tell you to go and let yourself in.

“One of the wardens said if I was going to run away, could I just make sure I left my key because they’re expensive to replace?

“I couldn’t get my head around it.

“There were a few lads there from Birmingham and they explained how it worked.

“’We’re still in jail’, one of them said, ‘but the longer you stay in here, the more freedom you get – as long as you don’t mess it up’.

“I was still in Thorn Cross when Watford began the 2012/13 season against Crystal Palace.

“Every time I phoned my agent he’d say: ‘they’ve changed manager, they’ve changed owner’.

“I’d read the papers and see they’d signed another striker. I was just thinking I had no chance – I also knew it was a possibility that they would sack me because I was a convicted criminal.

Warrington Guardian: Hornets striker Troy Deeney. Picture: Holly Cant

“I would stay up late when I could to watch the Football League Show and catch as much of Watford’s games as was possible.

“The prospect of playing again gave me a target. The wardens were great with me, particularly the guys in the gym.

“They wanted to make sure I didn’t just waste my time in jail.

“I’d be on the treadmill for an hour doing sit ups and star jumps in my cell.

“I grew up in the Warrington jail.

“Once you’re in prison, everything else is stripped away.

“Your position in society, how people see you, what you earn, the car you drive – it didn’t matter that I was a footballer. I was naked, I was just Troy.

“I was released from Thorn Cross prison in mid-September 2012.

“I’d served 16 weeks in all, and they let me out with an ankle tag.”

Warrington Guardian:

Deeney forced his way back into the team and ultimately stayed at Vicarage Road until 2021.

That same season, he scored a memorable last gasp goal in the play-off semi final against Leicester City to send Watford to Wembley – although they were defeated in the final.

He added: “Afterwards, I didn’t feel that low. I don’t think we were ready for the Premier League – I know I wasn’t.

“I scored 20 goals that season, and I signed a new deal with Watford. It was a pretty stellar year given how it had started.

“It made me appreciate football, but it also made me realise how much I’d taken freedom for granted beforehand.

“Losing a game of football like the playoff final didn’t hit me quite as hard, because I knew that at the end of it I still had the freedom to put the kids to bed or to go and see my mum – I still got to go home that night.”