Three years on from his prison release, disgraced footballer Adam Johnson has not returned to the professional game.
The former England international, now 34 years of age, was sacked by Sunderland in 2016 shortly after pleading guilty to sexual activity with a child and child grooming. He was found guilty on one further offence of sexual activity with a child and found not guilty on a second count of the same crime.
Johnson’s family reportedly attempted to dissuade him from writing to clubs in an effort to resurrect his football career, and at various times there has been mention of the winger moving abroad to find a new employer. However, the nature of his conviction means such a path could be complicated.
When Johnson was handed a six-year prison sentence in 2016, the PFA’s then-chief Gordon Taylor cast doubt on the prospect of the player ever resuming his professional football career. “I feel that prospect is, to say the least, very remote, if at all,” he told BBC Radio 5live at the time (via FourFourTwo ).
“It’s not unexpected, Taylor continued. “The judge had said it was a very serious issue and he would be away for quite some time.
“Six years is not unexpected. Our thoughts are very much with the victim in this matter.”
Johnson was released on licence in 2019 after serving half of his sentence. Before his release, though, reports emerged suggesting he planned to write to clubs in a bid to return to the sport.
As previously reported by the Daily Mirror, Johnson’s sister Faye told a friend: “He was going to write an open letter to all the clubs explaining why he can benefit them if they give him another chance. Genuinely thought he was joking when he told me but he was deadly serious.”
The Mail reported in 2019 that League 1 and League 2 clubs within a commuting distance of Johnson’s home in County Durham told the publication they would not consider moving for the disgraced player. The player bought a property in the village of Castle Eden in 2010 and sold it for £1.75m in 2022.
In his first public statement after his release in 2019, Johnson made a point of expressing his “remorse” for his actions. However, his father and agent Dave declined to comment when further comments prompted questions from the media about a potential return to professional football.
“I am very sorry for the effect my conduct had on those, directly and indirectly, involved,” Adam Johnson said. “It should never have happened and I deeply regret what I did.
“I now want to concentrate on the future and want to demonstrate through my actions that I am committed to repaying them for their support.”
According to The Sun, the prospect of a move abroad is still on the table. The England international has become a father again after reuniting with ex-partner Stacey Flounders, and the couple is said to be “considering whether their future lies abroad”.
There had been suggestions Johnson might move overseas in an effort to resume his career. However, this has been complicated by his conviction.
He is required to inform the police if he plans to travel overseas, while various countries have laws in place requiring individuals to share details of prior convictions if they want to work there and undergoing criminal records checks. As Mirror Football reported in 2019, moves to China, the Middle East, US or Australia had looked to be non-starters