FIFTH-TIER Spanish football side Malaga City have announced a surprising new addition to their staff, with former Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur star Steven Caulker joining the club as a player-manager.

Caulker, who made one England appearance in 2012, joined after discovering the club whilst on holiday with his girlfriend and son in the Andalucian resort town of Nerja.

Brexit rules require Caulker to have a specific licence to play, but in the meantime he has taken charge of the side whilst simultaneously completing his coaching badges.

However, Malaga City lost their first game under Caulker’s command 6-0, leaving them second bottom in the fifth division of Spain’s football pyramid.

Steven Caulker, England international turned Sierra Leone captain, has joined Malaga City as their new player-manager. Credit: Cordon Press

Caulker, who traditionally plays as a centre-back, made 123 appearances in England’s top flight, including spells at Tottenham Hotspur, Swansea City, Cardiff City, Queens Park Rangers, Southampton and Liverpool.

Most recently, Caulker had a brief spell at Wigan Athletic in the Championship before leaving following a bitter dispute over unpaid wages.

The 32-year old’s career had previously been derailed by a wave of personal issues, as the defender suffered with depression, anxiety, alcoholism and a gambling addiction. 

He told The Times: “I hit so many rock bottoms and they just kept getting lower and lower. It was a mental rock bottom, a financial rock bottom, a physical rock bottom, an emotional and spiritual rock bottom”. 

Following medication, rehab, therapy and programmes with both Alcoholics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous, Caulker admits he has to confront his personal battles day-by-day.

Caulker’s openness about personal issues has occasionally been a detriment to his career – two months ago, he was dropped from a pundit video series sponsored by bet365 after the betting company became nervous over his “positive work” on gambling addiction.

With a keen desire to help other footballers, Caulker has also set up Behind the White Lines, an organisation which seeks to provide training camps to young players who are released from clubs when young.

Nowadays, Caulker also plays for a new national team – following an application to FIFA, Caulker now plays for Sierra Leone, a nation for which he has ambitions to captain to the World Cup finals.

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