FORMER Oldham favourite Jose Baxter has lifted the lid on the circumstances which he feels triggered his downward spiral into gambling, drugs and depression - pointing to his exit from Boundary Park as the start of it all.

The 29-year-old announced his retirement from football in August, at the age of just 29.

Baxter had two spells with Latics. But it was the end of his first in 2013 that he feels set him on the wrong path, after a gentleman’s agreement he says was made with then owner Simon Corney failed to materialise.

Speaking to the The Leg It Podcast, the former Everton star explained: “Paul Dickov rang me at Oldham and said ‘Is it right that you’re not going back to Everton? Do you want to come in?’

“I signed a three-month deal and I enjoyed it. I was playing good footy, I was playing centre mid for them and I went and scored 17 I think in the season from centre mid, and after the three months I met the owner.

“There was my dad, my agent, the owner and the rest of the board and he said to me ‘I want to offer you a two-and-a-half year deal but whatever you get sold for we split 50-50’.

“I always wanted to buy my mum a house. That was my dream as a young kid. It was a dream to retire my mum and dad.

“Sheffield United came in for me and bought me for like £1.3million and I was thinking ‘I’ve got £650,000 here, I can buy my mum a house’.

“I signed for Sheffield United and phoned the chairman and he said ‘Nah, I didn’t say it’.

“So I was thinking well fine, because there was this fella Barry (not Barry Owen) on the board and another two fellas and I used to give them some of my boots and shirts and I got on with them, so I thought ‘I’ll just phone them’. And they said ‘We were in the board meeting’.

“They wanted to sign me to sell me on. He (Corney) had a plan to build a new senate and sell up and go back to America. Simon Corney his name was.

“It was half a million for the stand and they named the first brick of the stand after me and all stupid stuff.

“He didn’t give me one pence.

“He shook my hand and looked me in the eye and said it was 50 per cent.

“I’m signing for Sheffield United I should be on cloud nine, on boss money on a three-year deal.

“I was the top goalscorer two years on the bounce for Sheffield United and fourth highest in a decade top goalscorer and, hand on heart, I was 40-50 per cent the player I was.

“I was overweight, I wasn’t as sharp, I couldn’t get going, but still performing.”

And Baxter blames what happened when he left Oldham for his mindset.

“Not many people know that,” he said.

“They said they couldn’t put it in writing - something to do with the FA and PFA - but we’ve got a gentleman’s agreement, and there were other people there.

“Looking back I was naive.

“One of my dreams had just been ripped away from me in terms of getting that house. I’m never going to get that chance again.”

The Oldham Times has attempted to contact Simon Corney for a comment about Baxter’s claims without success.

Baxter went on to be banned for five months in 2015 because of a positive drugs test, later testing positive again.

He admitted, in the podcast, to taking “half a tablet” on the first occasion but feels he was spiked for the second. But having already used that excuse for his first offence, it did not wash with the authorities second time around.

“That chairman didn’t force me into taking a drug but it was a little bit of a domino affect,” said Baxter.

“I never took a drug in my life previous to this.

“I went down to London and had half a tablet and still to this day don’t know why I did it or tried it.

“I had never taken a drug in my life and never been drug tested in my life. I took half a tablet on the Saturday and Monday was my first ever drugs test, and obviously failed it.”

Baxter, who had a gambling addiction, says he did not knowingly take drugs when he tested positive a second time in August 2016, leading to him being banned for a year.

“I was on high alert, which I knew, so I would have been a fool to take something,” he said.

“They said there was a small trace of cocaine in my system.”

He is convinced that he was spiked.

The experience led to Baxter experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts.

He returned to Oldham to rebuild his career in 2018, but found a different set of circumstances under current owner Abdallah Lemsagam.

“The chairman was getting his own people in and signing lads to be spies in the changing room to see what was going on,” Baxter said. “Paul Scholes came in. If Paul Scholes can’t sort Oldham no one can. He is an absolute legend of the game, he is an Oldham fan and he came in and was like ‘I’m going to try to do it my way instead of the chairman’, and after six games he just walked off, which tells you everything t how the club was. Not getting paid on time.

“We were having meetings and shutting all the doors and we were saying we just won’t train for a week and stand together.

“Then he would come in the next morning and go ‘You aren’t training for a week are you?’

“And you’re thinking, how does he know? We had young lads everywhere as the watch men, but it worked out it was a foreign lad who he brought in who was the eyes and ears.

“He was a good player but he was reporting back.

“I can’t see that happening at the likes of Everton. No chance.”