7th FEbruary 2023
MY BATTLE AGAINST MENTAL ILLNESS
I was a prolific striker from aged seven to eighteen .Scoring goals at will, then it dried up. I became an eight to twelve goals a season man for the next seventeen years. The career that looked to be heading to the summit became stale. Such a familiar tale worldwide.The pain??Oh my god the pain.
The pain of knowing on your deepest level that you can score at will but couldnt find it. Falling out of the team as you became more and more desperate, you put more and more pressure on yourself.The miseryThe depressionSoon I was drinking, sleeping around, over spending but most of all OVERTRAINING. OVERSEARCHING.OVERTHINKING.In a car park at a little chef on a roundabout on the A1 on a Sunday morning , I sat with my agent and best friend .Twenty years my senior and a wonderful man. A retired coach, he knew the game.“ I think when you’re at your best you attack the near post all the time, you worked the box and you’ve stopped” Ron saidI didn’t look at him.I sat staring out the window .
“It’s bollocks, it’s all fucking bollocks, I hate it all , the money, the job , the pressure, girls, it’s all shit...I just want me back.... I just want to be happy, I hate my life"
My voice was quivering but the red mist came down, a veil of protection against my fragile soul.I wound the window down, I had a £3000 watch on , another desperate attempt to look powerful, successful, like I was the man, it was all so so sad. I ripped it off my wrist and instinctively threw it as far as I could. It went over the hedge into the road. SMASH as it hit the concrete and a lorry drove straight over the remains.Ron looked at me, he was worried, he often was. However it was just the look you would give to a wounded dog that you just can’t help.“ It’s killing me . I’m sick and tired of this. I’m tired of being tired. I’m 28 now I’ve been doing this shit for 12 years..
"I scored 25 goals EVERY season until 18 now this! year after year of searching. I'm done with it , with all this informationI want to blow my brains outI need to stop these voices" I can't carry on like this , i'm so so lonely"
"I just played man, I just ran around, I helped my friends, I helped my manager I didn’t think, I didn’t process , I loved it from 7 years of age I just loved it, and now this, season after season the same thing happening , it’s fucking insanity. It wasn't this hard, it really wasn't this hard"The tears flowed down my face" I’m tired so tired, I don’t want to talk anymore. The teams winning I’m substitute but I don’t care. I’m just going to go in to training in the morning and run around, have a laugh, I like the boys but for the last 6 weeks I’ve isolated myself , I ignore them, my head says if I act like them I will be average like them, I’m looking down on everyone , but , they aren’t bad people, I just want to have a laugh and play, I’m done with all this goal setting and targets and instruction and tactics... I’m done “
I didn’t know what I had done at the time but I had surrendered.I was beatenI was powerless over my brain and my thoughts and I want out.
"I’m going to just work hard, it’s all I’ve fucking got"Over the next 10 weeks I scored 7 goals and dragged my team with me.scouts were flocking, when I was me, I was a really good player. Brighton and QPR were interested. Unfortunately there was 14 weeks left... week 10-14 the wheels fell off.No goals.Poor performances I was back to the same place.Four scouts spoke with Ron, their words haunted me for years in their truth."He flatters to deceive, he has everything but it's too much of a risk"I was like that good looking girl or guy you meet and they seem too good to be true kind, hard working, funny.. just to realise every time they go out with their friends they don,t come back for days. You want to believe in all these amazing qualities so you hang in there. Your heart continues to get broken, your faith and trust shattered.
Why?As soon as I started doing well a voice said“ I tell you what , have you heard about the teams watching you, if you keep this going you are going to get a really good move , better money, much nearer the top"Oh that voice... What did I do?Start thinking “ Ok I NEED to keep this going, I NEED to keep scoring “From instinct to thought . Love to Need.
This is an extract from my book due out in September. "And Then What..." is my journey from a boy with dreams to a 17 year career ending broken and alone in Rehab at 33. I tackle : Self Belief , Ego , Perfectionism, Love to Need, Fear , Trust and many other subjects . I share what I've seen in my day job for the last seven years working with some of the nations finest talent and WHY we are haemorrhaging creativity and why mental illness is on the rise.