‘A lonely existence’: Ivan Toney walks well-worn path as he returns from ban

‘A lonely existence’: Ivan Toney walks well-worn path as he returns from ban

Former players who have served bans reveal the obstacles facing the Brentford striker – and how he can overcome them

Over the years players in England have received lengthy, months-long bans for a surprising array of offences. For failing and missing drug tests, for betting and biting and fighting, for asking to move clubs, not asking before moving clubs and refusing to play for existing clubs, for abusing the referee, assaulting the referee and ignoring the referee, for committing violence and glorifying it (though it summed up Vinnie Jones’s career that even his four-month ban, for delivering a how-to guide to getting away with harming opponents, was suspended), for stamping and elbowing and flying kung-fu kicking. The path Ivan Toney has followed these past eight months is well-travelled.

Four goals, including a hat-trick against Southampton’s Under-23s, in two warmup games suggest that he will return with a finisher’s touch undimmed, but it is clear this has been a difficult journey. “There was a stage where I fell out of love with football a bit,” he said last week. “Football’s all that I know really, it’s what I’m used to. Missing the game for a while and not being around my teammates was tough.”

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