Ex-Gunners Jermaine Pennant admitted he “made many mistakes” in the past, but has turned himself around and is now focused on non-league side Billericay Town.

Pennant told the Guardian in an interview that he realised that he needed to mature, after years of taking advantage of his fame and fortune in a manner that didn’t always show so much maturity.

He said: “I’m taking everything more seriously because you can’t play forever. You’ve got to grow up. You’ve got to be a man and take care of business and your family.”

“Obviously, I made many mistakes. But I was young and it was exciting. You have a lot of money at such a young age – as well as the responsibilities and pleasures. You’re in the public eye and I was just enjoying it and not realising I was also a role model.”

Pennant joined Arsenal in 1999, and at the time he became the most expensive teenager in Britain – the Gunners spending £2m on the winger. However, he struggled to ever live up to that price tag in North London, only making 12 league appearances in six years, scoring three goals.

The now 34-year-old also went on four loans during that period, before eventually moving on a permanent deal to Birmingham City. Moving around so often ended up being indicative of the rest of his career so far, having played for 15 clubs in the last 20 years.

Pennant had a difficult background before football, losing his mum to cancer and his dad to drugs and prison. There is a sense that all this uncertainty rubbed off on him, and the player was jailed himself at one point.

Once, Pennant had to play a match whilst wearing an electronic tag due to a drink-driving conviction, which shows the level that his personal issues had started to affect his career. But he told the Guardian that he feels he’s “different now”, and is just looking to get back to football with his new club.