Doncaster Rovers midfielder Matty Blair has lifted the lid on the “whirlwind of emotion” he is still dealing with following the death of his brother.
Ross Blair died on July 29, aged 32, after a three-year battle with an incurable brain tumour.
While Matty has been grieving he has also been getting to grips with becoming a father for the first time after his wife Xanthe recently gave birth to son Archie.
Before tomorrow’s game at AFC Wimbledon, Blair paid tribute to Darren Ferguson and Rovers’ players and staff for their support over the last few weeks.
“It’s probably been the hardest moment of my life,” he said.
“But then again having the birth of my baby boy has probably been the best moment of my life.
“I’m in a bit of a whirlwind of emotion so it’s about understanding when I’m happy, I’m good, and when I’m a bit down and bit low it’s then relying on family and close friends to help me through that tough time.
“I feel okay. We’re just getting on with it as best we can.”
Blair has started four of five Rovers’ games this season but missed the Carabao Cup tie at Bradford City to attend Ross’s funeral.
He said: “Football has been a release and a distraction for me. When you’re out playing football you don’t think about anything else other than that.
“I’ve said to the gaffer a couple of times that I’m better being here than being off. He’s been superb with me and I can’t thank him enough.
“I genuinely don’t think I could have had better people around me. The gaffer, his staff, the lads themselves, the people behind the scenes, Mary [Lally - club secretary], the fans as well - they’ve all been brilliant. I’ve had messages near enough every day just asking how I am and saying sorry to hear the news.
“I’m just a normal person at work trying to do the best I can so I can’t emphasize enough how appreciative I am to get the support of so many people.”
He added: “I was feeling down the week of the Bradford game and I said to the gaffer ‘I’m gone here’.
“He was so good with me and just said ‘whatever time you need, you have’.
“That gave me a couple of days to get myself back together and then I played at Blackburn.
“I’ve always tried to keep my form high but I know I’ve always got the support of the gaffer and the lads. They will give me that time if I need it.
“I would like to think I’m slowly but surely digesting what’s happened and grieving is starting to become less and less.”