Ex-Man Utd and Chelsea star left with huge losses as trendy Salford restaurant struggles again

The former Man Utd academy graduate went on to win the Premier League but hasn’t had such luck with his restaurant ventures.

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Former Chelsea and Leicester City star Danny Drinkwater has had to endure a huge £782,000 loss from his struggling Manchester restaurant business.

The Red Devils youth academy graduate announced his retirement from professional football last week having not played for a club since his Chelsea contract expired last summer. Drinkwater had an in-depth interview on the High Performance Podcast to announce the news, opening up on his mental health battles after moving to Chelsea from Leicester in 2017.

Drinkwater opened trendy and wellbeing-focused Manchester restaurant FoodWell in 2019 but had racked up £2 million of debts in the first 12 months of trading despite rave reviews for its unique blend of a dining experience and workouts. The business ploughed on after the pandemic but closed its doors last year.

That hiccup didn't dent the star's taste for the culinary business with Drinkwater then moving to purchase a 70% stake in health-conscious restaurant Firefly. The Salford venue is known for its brunch, cocktails and sushi. However, The Sun reports that Drinkwater has been informed by liquidators that the restaurant is currently £1.1 million in debt.

When announcing his recent retirement, the Premier League winner explained how his struggles at Chelsea following his £35 million move in 2017 was 'the darkest' he had felt. He said: “It was the darkest I’d felt. It was like I was drowning and had forgotten how to swim. Anyone who thinks earning good money will solve all of your problems is not true at all.

Danny Drinkwater turned out for the Manchester United reserves but never the first team (Image: Getty Images)Danny Drinkwater turned out for the Manchester United reserves but never the first team (Image: Getty Images)
Danny Drinkwater turned out for the Manchester United reserves but never the first team (Image: Getty Images)

“Mental health is more important than physical. It was the darkest I’d ever felt and it was like I was drowning and forgotten how to swim.”

Manchester-born Drinkwater was a Manchester United graduate and broke into the first team in 2009 at a time when Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, Roy Keane and Cristiano Ronaldo were in the squad. The midfielder, who once fell out with Sir Alex Ferguson over some spaghetti bolognase, made it onto the bench at Old Trafford but never recorded an appearance for the first team before moving to Leicester in 2012.

Drinkwater isn't the first former Carrington graduate to venture into the world of business and hospitality with Gary Neville famously commanding a business empire that includes a restaurant. However, the former full-back's Stock Market Grill was suddenly shut just four months after opening earlier this year.