Aston Villa striker John Carew has spoken for the first time about his visit to a lap dancing club on the eve of his side’s Uefa Cup clash with Ajax last week, insisting the matter was a “misunderstanding.”
The Norwegian made headlines for the wrong reasons when he was spotted in the Rocket Club on Broad Street, in Birmingham, by Villa fans in the early hours of Thursday.
Carew, who is expected to play in Wednesday's Premier League match against Blackburn Rovers at Villa Park, said: “I wasn’t at the strip club but the bar which shares the same entrance. The whole thing is a misunderstanding.
“I’ve had the flu and I was 100 per cent sure I wasn’t going to play on Thursday. That’s why I went out for dinner.”
“I would never have taken a meal in town if I knew I was going to play the match.
“I had dinner in an Italian restaurant together with a female friend of mine. Afterwards, we went to a bar next to it. The bar has the same entrance as this club which is referred to in the newspapers. Instead of going to the Rocket Club, we went into the quiet bar next to it. There were three or four other people there. I had a Pepsi Coke before we left.”
Carew also suggested that the reported £100,000 fine slapped on him by manager Martin O’Neill has been exaggerated. He said: “I have more or less been told how much it is and it is far, far from the sums that have been reported.”
The striker appears to have been forgiven by the Villa faithful after coming off the bench to set up a goal and score one of his own against Wigan on Sunday as Villa romped to a 4-0 victory.
Meanwhile, O’Neill has insisted his relationship with Carew is sound and that the matter is behind them. He said: “I have a perfectly good professional relationship with John. I don’t think I would be guest of honour of any of the players if they were asking people to go out and eat with them but I have no problem with John.
“He stepped out of line, we dealt with it. I won’t hold it against him forever and a day - until he is out again!”
Suggesting some sympathy for the situation in which Carew has found himself over the last few days, the Northern Irishman added: “I have been fined as a player and it didn’t really change anything. I might have sulked for a day or two, or in my case a month, but overall it was not a problem.
“The way John reacted was superb at Wigan. He came on as a sub and in about 12 minutes he made a goal and scored one which is not a bad way to resolve the situation.
“Overall, I have been very pleased with John since he arrived at the club. He has played a lot of games for us and I think he has played more games for us than he would have done at his last three clubs.
“There have been games this season and last when he has been unplayable. That consistency is what we are after. I think John has become more consistent because he genuinely enjoys the environment at the club. He is a big player for us. He is important for the team.
“He stepped out of line the other night. I didn’t know anything about it until I was told and I was pleased it came to light. That is better than me finding out retrospectively.”