FORMER Sunderland striker Anthony Stokes has taken a pop at his former club, claiming that the dressing room during his time at the Stadium of Light was a “nightmare”.
Stokes, who was with the Black Cats from January 2007 until August 2009, has just agreed a three-year extension to his contract at Celtic and was comparing the great team-spirit in Glasgow to the poor one at Sunderland.
Asked about his team-mates at Parkhead, the 25-year-old said: “It is a young squad, but it is the best dressing room I have been in.
“I have been at other clubs and the dressing room has been a nightmare, but the boys here are all very level-headed and are young lads trying to improve. It makes for a great atmosphere.
“When I was at Sunderland you had boys coming in who were on £100k a week. There were incidents where boys wouldn’t do gym sessions or wouldn’t do swimming sessions because they were getting braids put in their hair.
“Then there is no-one on massive, ridiculous money at Celtic.
“There isn’t that marquee player who is on 10 times what everyone else gets.
“It can cause great tension – if someone is coming in on 10 times more than another player.
“Then people will soon start raising eyebrows – but thankfully everyone here is quite level-headed and that helps us on the pitch because we have that togetherness.”
Celtic manager Neil Lennon was also scornful of the tale of choosing braiding over training.
The Parkhead manager said: “He wouldn’t play for me again – either that or I would get his braids cut off!
“I’m sure whoever it is Anthony is talking about was getting paid handsomely by the club.
“For me that’s breaking your contract, or not honouring it. There would have to be come retribution for that, some punishment. Now maybe it’s a personal thing with his braids, but he has to find a way to tie them up or whatever.
“Players need to make sure they’re out on the training ground doing what they’re paid for. I don’t begrudge any player getting good money but I think some players are way overpaid for what they do on the pitch.
“There has to be a justification. There could be a player who comes in on £60,000-a-week when the guy on £30,000-a-week is playing better than him. Eventually that guy is going to knock on your door and go ‘c’mon.’
“You have to be very careful and weigh these things up when you’re signing players and giving in to their wage demands.”