VIDEO games are in danger of becoming the new drug of choice for professional footballers – and it’s a sad reflection on society today.

Southampton manager Ralph Haenhuttl has admitted to blocking hotel Wi-Fi during away trips in a bid to combat the potential problem.

The former Austria Salzburg player believes it would be easier to tackle video-game addiction if it were regarded as an illness by the government.

His comments came after an anonymous EFL player admitted to playing up to 16 hours a day and – being out of contract in the summer – now fears it will ruin his career and personal life.

The PFA has been contacted by numerous clubs about concerns for players’ gaming habits in what has been described as a “silent epidemic”.

Last year, in a revision of its disease classification manual, the UN’s World Health Organisation now says playing video games qualifies as a mental health condition.

WHO argues classifying gaming disorder as a separate addiction will help governments, families and health care workers identify the risks.

But many critics have warned against stigmatising gaming enthusiasts by tying in problems with mental health problems.

The unnamed EFL player said he started playing Fortnite excessively after seeing the likes of Premier League star Dele Alli promoting the game.

England and Tottenham midfielder Alli recently announced via Instagram that he has signed a partnership with a gaming chair company.

Apparently, between them, Alli, Harry Kane and Kieran Trippier clocked up 1,137 matches on Fortnite during the World Cup in Russia.

In some ways, Haenhuttl preventing PlayStation usage harks back to the likes of England managers Bobby Robson and Terry Venables stopping players going to the pub before matches.

I’m sure the families of the likes of Paul Gascoigne, Tony Adams and Paul Merson – all former England players who are fighting alcoholism – would prefer they were bingeing on Fortnite than down the pub.

But it’s a new kind of mental disorder which needs addressing and not just in football – but the sport could use its status to promote the dangers better.