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Brentford and England striker Ivan Toney has spoken out on his eight-month ban from football.

In his first public interview since learning of his suspension, which includes not being able to train with his Brentford team-mates until September, Toney believes missing out on representing his country at the 2022 World Cup is worse than his lengthy ban.

The 27-year-old’s transgressions were first reported in November last year ahead of the tournament in Qatar, although the decision over his investigation — where he admitted to 232 betting breaches — concluded last month.

Speaking to Kick Game UK about the timing of his charges and ban, Toney said: “In a way it’s like get it out now so you don’t go England and then all of a sudden they want to wait until the end of the season to do the kind of things but listen it is what it is.

“If they want to do it that way, I call it a bit spiteful but it is what it is and you just have to get on with it.

“The biggest punishment, even though I miss eight months of football, that was the biggest punishment to miss out on a World Cup — everyone’s dream — it is bigger than missing eight months of football. I believe in myself and hopefully I will be at the next one.”

The 27-year-old forward also warned Premier League defenders he will be “a different animal” when he makes his return in January next year.

Toney recounted the aftermath of his social media post following the announcement of his ban, where he said he would “speak soon with no filter”.

“As soon as I put that (tweet) obviously everyone went crazy and this and that,” he told Kick Game UK.

“But I actually got a message from my Mum and you know when your Mum says something you have to listen. She said to me just remember cream always rises, worry about yourself, do what you want to do and do what you think is best. She messaged while I have been away and said listen I’ve been sick, feeling ill blah blah.

“Everyone is going crazy, your name is all on the news. I was like Mum, don’t worry I know. I know what I am capable of and I know what I can do. If you say it’s going to ‘damage my reputation’ what I say then so be it.

“I just know deep down what I said is how I feel. If I have something to say I will say it.

“I have to concentrate on what I can do which is score goals and do well like every season and every year that has gone by. I have to prove people wrong like what I done when I first came into the Prem. They said I wouldn’t be able to score goals and I got into double figures. Next season, (I scored) 20 goals. So just keep getting better and better.

“For the people out there they are painting me with a certain picture which is fair enough, they can go off what they want to see but people that know me know who I am and what I am about.”

The former Peterborough United forward also spoke on the lack of support for players surrounding gambling, adding: “A majority of football teams now are sponsored by gambling companies so it’s kind of like weigh it up.

“If that’s the rules that you shouldn’t be betting then yeah you shouldn’t be betting but for people that need help there should be more around to stop them from leading to that direction or whatever. When the time is right I will speak out on the majority of things and clear up things that need to be cleared up.”

Toney has said he will speak in greater length on a platform when the time is right but has told the public he is not looking for sympathy.

He added: “The club (Brentford) have actually been very helpful and very supportive. Everybody at the club. Loads of footballers have messaged me too.

“The support is good but how I am I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me.

“I done what I done before, the punishment is the punishment and get on with it. Like I said I just have to focus on when I come back training. I want to be a different animal when I come back. It’s going to be frightening.”

Toney has revealed he will work with personal trainers in different locations while he is banned from training with his team-mates.

“I’ve got a few things lined up, a few trainers in different places,” explains Toney. “I feel like there’s two things. There’s certain people that try to break people down and how it came out just before the England camp, obviously missed out on the World Cup — that would have been the biggest dream for me to do.”

Gareth Southgate said in May that football has to look after Toney and the England manager’s support has not gone unnoticed by the striker.

When asked how he felt when Southgate backed him, Toney replies: “It felt good. It is obviously going to feel good when the England manager is backing you and is standing with you.

“I feel like he sees it as harsh as well, not letting me train and or be around the team for so however long but know I have the right team behind me, the right people involved and keep going strong.

“Every season I have done better scoring much more goals and when I come back, I am hungry now to come back, when January comes like I said you will see a different animal.”

The England international, who has been capped once by his country, has two more years left to run on his contract at Brentford.

His last appearance came in the 1-0 defeat by Liverpool on May 6 and he will be unable to play for his club or country until his suspension comes to an end on January 16, 2024. He scored 21 goals in 35 appearances last season.

(Photo: Getty Images)



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