Michael Johnson, a player once tipped to be a future England regular, has had his contract paid off by Manchester City, it has been revealed.
The 24-year-old has not played for City since October 2009 and last played competitively on loan for Leicester in November 2011.
He was convicted of two drink-driving offences last September and was offered a severance package from his £40,000-a-week contract by City just before Christmas.
This came to light after a picture circulated on Twitter (above) on Monday that showed the player, once the subject of a £10m bid by Liverpool, looking out of shape – a far cry from his youth, when Sven Goran Eriksson said that he would not swap him for Steven Gerrard.
His lifestyle was a cause of great concern, though there remains a sympathetic view of his fall from grace, with those fully aware of his off-field battles keen to stress that Johnson's story is not simply one of a player wasting his talent.
Despite not playing since 2009, Johnson was included in team photographs and even handed a squad number at the start of this season, despite it becoming clear more than 18 months ago that he would be unable to resurrect his career at the club.