Jermaine Pennant apologises for 'below par performance' after former winger is accused of slurring words live on air

Ben Rumsby
Jermaine Pennant, pictured in the countdown to the 2007 European Cup final in which he featured - AFP

Former Liverpool and Arsenal winger Jermaine Pennant was forced to apologise on Friday after being removed from Sky Sports News amid concerns from viewers that he was drunk.

Pennant expressed regret at his “below par performance” during the channel’s transfer talk segment on Friday morning but denied claims he had been out the previous evening.

Sky Sports said Pennant had been taken off air because he had “failed to meet our production standards”.

The 37-year-old, who has a history of alcohol abuse and has been convicted three times for drink-driving, slurred his words and gave rambling answers when discussing Romelu Lukaku’s move from Manchester United to Inter Milan and his own time at Liverpool.

Subsequent questions were directed towards other panellists before he was replaced during an advertising break by Sky Sports News journalist David Reed.

Pennant said in a statement published by Mailonline: “I apologise to everyone at Sky Sports and the viewers for my below-par performance today, the channel have given me opportunities over the past months and I have never let them down like this before.

“I’m gutted because only yesterday I had a really good stint on Talksport. There are no excuses here, I am eager to have a career in TV and hope I haven’t done irreparable damage.

“Contrary to speculation on social media I didn't go out last night, I’ve been trying so hard to be professional over the past period, I’ve let down a lot of people and it won’t happen again. Once again I apologise sincerely.”

A Sky Sports spokesman: “Jermaine Pennant was a guest on Sky Sports News this morning. A decision by our production team was made to take Jermaine off the programme before its conclusion because his performance on-air failed to meet our production standards.”

A handful of Twitter users picked up on Pennant’s slurred speech, with one posting: “Is Jermaine Pennant drunk on Sky Sports News? Seems a bit off.”

Pennant’s last playing appearance came for Billericay Town in 2017 but he has yet to announce his retirement officially.

As well as Liverpool and Arsenal, his 14 clubs include Leeds United.