Hooligan banned from each soccer stadium unrecognisable after transformation

It has been 17 years since Anthony Phythian was slapped with yet another football banning order – this time for invading a pitch minutes before his beloved Manchester City got knocked out of an FA Cup quarter final against Blackburn Rovers.

Despite it being a low point for Anthony – who stormed past stewards in a boiler suit to reach the pitch – there was more misery to come in his personal life.

But everything has now changed for the former hooligan, who will enjoy watching England at Euro 2024 without the urge to cause trouble.

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Anthony Phythian
He now opens up about his dark past and last year he ran the Manchester Marathon

This wasn’t always the case for the City fanatic, who was raised by his grandparents after his alcoholic mum was unable to care for him.

He grew up in Miles Platting – a place he described as rough in the 80s and 90s and where drug dealing and crime was a way of life for many.

Anthony told the Manchester Evening News how he grew up fighting on the streets and in school and often football was the reason.

This later led to hooliganism and one of his most prevalent memories was an iconic England match that resulted in rival fans from different areas of Britain attacking each other.

Speaking to podcaster Dodge Woodall, he said: “I remember the game against Greece at Old Trafford. I remember being out for that one. I was only young then, it was just going off everywhere with England fans.

“Like City was fighting Stoke then we were fighting Oldham and Derby was down and Preston and then Everton was fighting United and it was like a free-for-all to fight each other.”

Anthony Phythian
Anthony started to do his fighting inside the ring after turning his life around

Anthony Phythian
The Manchester City lover in great shape after he ballooneed to 18-and-a-half stone

Years later, he was banned from every stadium in the country for three years after assaulting a police horse after Man City played Bolton Wanderers in the League Cup in 2007.

Anthony’s physical and mental health soon declined and he ballooned to 18-and-a-half stone. He had been consuming booze and drugs since his teenage years and two deaths, his mum in 2008, and his gran in 2018, led to periods of severe self-destruction.

But Anthony is now unrecognisable today after turning to boxing in recent years to help turn his life around.

And speaking to the MEN, he said: “It was the loss of my nana and the binge in 2018 that triggered my turnaround. I was hopeless and helpless. A mess. I was either going to get out of it or die.

“I went to Alcoholics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous and got the help I needed. It was at this time I worked for a very kind Sikh family who also decided to help me and it gave me hope.”

Anthony Phythian
The boxer has four professional wins on his record inside the squared circle

Anthony, who got sober and found work at a haulage company after being homeless, later had a handful of amateur boxing bouts before being granted a pro licence at the age of 37.

His last fight came in November 2023 and the light-heavyweight ended up with four wins and three losses to his name before calling it a day. On his Instagram, he refers to himself as a “reformed football lad” and a “former professional boxer”.

He dedicated his transformation to Tyson Fury who had his own remarkable comeback after he binged his way 28 stone. The Gypsy King, who is bipolar, struggled after reaching the pinnacle of boxing – before his sensational return against Deontay Wilder.

Giving a nod to the boxing champ, Anthony said: “He’s had his own demons and continues to fight them, showing that it doesn’t matter how much fame, money and how successful you are, you can still suffer the pain of mental illness as anyone.

“The fact he made his comeback the way he did is inspiring. I’d like to think I could inspire people just as he has with me, never give up hope, live to fight another day, you never know what tomorrow brings.”

And despite his fighting on the terraces being a thing of the past, Anthony did end up invading a pitch last month, but for different reasons.

He shared a picture online of him celebrating Manchester City’s fourth Premier League title win on the bounce after a 3-1 against West Ham at the Etihad.

Anthony Phythian
Celebrating the latest Premier League title – a far cry from when he invaded Ewood Park in 2007 after his side were about to be knocked out of the FA Cup by Blackburn

Writing alongside the picture, Anthony, who has three children and a stepchild, said: “English football record. Champions again ole ole ole.”

And referring to his past, he said: “My eldest, my lad, knows a lot of my past and now I try to advise him where not to go wrong as I did. To be the person I am today and be able to have the relationship I have with my kids is amazing. I thank God every day and know I am totally blessed with this second chance in life.”