Southampton striker Bradley Wright-Phillips has issued a don't drink message to budding sports stars.

The 21-year-old Saints hitman warned youngsters not to be swayed into a path of under-age drinking if they want to make it and stay healthy.

He told the Daily Echo how he had shunned the bottle while hanging out with friends on the streets of south London, where he grew up.

Bradley, an England Under-21 international who joined the Saints in the summer, said he knew how he wanted to be a footballer from a young age and realised when he got to secondary school he had to take care of his body.

That meant not drinking booze. "It's not very good in the morning is it?

"It can't have a good effect, especially if you want to be a footballer. You're just not going to be able perform.

"It's no good in the long term."

He said he didn't feel left out while others were drinking.

"From the age of about 11 or 12 I didn't really think about drinking," said Bradley.

"I remember tasting it but I just didn't like it. That was beer or something I took from my mum's cabinet.

"Some of the boys used to have White Lightning (cider). I didn't really like that.

"At parties I just used to dance. I didn't get involved in the drink. I didn't feel pressure from anyone."

And his parents didn't need to tell him of the dangers twice.

"I wanted to be a footballer since when I could remember and they used that against me," said Bradley.

"They said look if you want to make it: none of the footballers drink or smoke.

"It was a case of them just telling me once: Just stay away from drink - it's no good'. I didn't need any lectures about it."

Bradley knows he would not be playing professional football if he had got involved with drink or smoking.

"I've seen some of my friends from when I was young and at home and they are still doing the same things and it's not good."

He now takes a sensible approach to alcohol.

"If I was going out, like every three weeks or something, I may have one or two drinks but I won't be getting drunk and stumbling about. It's not good. You need to look after yourself."

Bradley issued the following message to youngsters: "Don't be swayed. If you've got friends and they want to drink, let them. But if you want to be a footballer or sportsman you can't do those things."