• London Olympics 2012

Greene: I could have been a prat

ESPN staff
July 23, 2012 « Donald: I'm ready to win a major | Chartbeat test »
Dai Greene turned down a contract at Swansea City © Getty Images
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Check out the Olympic Stadium where Dai Greene will be bidding to win Olympic hurdles gold

World hurdles champion Dai Greene has no regrets over his decision to pursue a career in athletics at the expense of the riches of becoming a professional footballer.

Greene, a winger with the Swansea City youth team, turned down a professional contract at 16 and was forced to work in McDonalds as he turned his focus to the 400m hurdles.

But Greene, who has been named as captain for Team GB's track and field team, is quick to admit he would not have been able to cope with the fame and fortune at such a young age.

"I was naive when I was a teenager," Greene said in the Daily Mirror, "If I had followed football and been successful and had a lot of riches in my life, I wouldn't have been able to handle that.

"I like to think I'm relatively humble now but I think if I'd got money early, I would have been a prat.

"You see that with other sportsmen and I would have been scared of becoming that person. I had to work hard for what I've got. I look back at the route I have travelled and think it has helped to make me a decent person."

Greene is bidding to become the first Briton since Sally Gunnell to win all four major titles, with Olympic gold his No. 1 priority after he became world champion last year following his gold medals from the 2010 European and Commonwealth Games.

He has been returning to form following surgery at the end of last season, and believes the hard path to success in athletics has made him a better person.

He said: "How can you expect to handle the kind of wealth that some footballers achieve? You give them something so lucrative so young for relatively no achievements. It has come easy for them so you can't expect them to deal with it.

"My route has been that you only get out what you put in. I put in a lot of hard work before I got anything out. It makes you appreciate it more. It makes you wary it could fall away very quickly as well. But the setbacks I have had made me into a tougher person and helped to create the character behind the man."

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