Ex-England footballer Stephen Warnock has revealed how he came close to killing himself earlier this year.
The ex-Liverpool, Leeds and Aston Villa star said he’d planned out exactly how he was going to end his life following the break-up of his marriage to wife Laura.
Dad-of-two Warnock, 39, who regularly works as a pundit for the BBC, Sky and BT Sport, opened up about his ordeal in a harrowing podcast with the author and life-coach Paul Cope.
He said: “I’d planned everything, I knew how I was going to do it. I remember one time I was driving down the motorway and thinking this would be an easy way out.
"I was on the phone to my sister in law and she said: 'Don’t you f***ing dare.'
“I pulled over and managed to get myself together, but she was ringing me constantly afterwards to make sure I was OK.”
Shortly after that incident Warncock, who was part of England’s 2010 World Cup squad, said he planned to take his life again – and only pulled himself back after texting Cope in a cry for help.
The pair have now been regularly speaking as part of Warnock’s recovery.
“If I hadn’t sent that message I don’t think I’d be sitting here today,” Warnock admitted in an emotional interview he shared on Instagram.
The footballer – who quit the game in 2018 – said retirement and the breakdown of his marriage were two of the most major factors in his battle with mental ill-health.
He said: “At the end of my career I felt empty, I didn’t have a purpose. It was scary.
"I actually looked back and thought ‘that was pretty s***’ – there was so much more I could have achieved.
“I know many other players who have retired who say the same. A lot of my career just passed me by in a haze. It was gone in the blink of an eye.”
On his marriage break-up, he added: “I am currently going through a divorce. I didn’t handle things well. I hold my hands up. It was my fault. But I had issues where I wasn’t seeing my kids. It destroyed me.
“Often I’d be in my flat crying my eyes out then, suddenly, I’m on Sky or on the radio and had to put on a different scenario. People don’t see the guy on the couch curled up in a ball crying his eyes out.”
Warnock said he had overcome his problems and was now sharing his story in a bid to try and help others going through the same ordeal.
If you’re struggling to cope with mental health issues, there are ways you can access help.
Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at [email protected]
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