Former Sheffield United man reveals he has autism after adult diagnosis

The ex-Sheffield United defender revealed he had his own diagnosis after finding his autistic son has similar traits that he had
Greg Halford celebrates his goal for Sheffield United during the Coca-Cola Championship play off semi- final second leg match between Sheffield United and Preston North End (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)Greg Halford celebrates his goal for Sheffield United during the Coca-Cola Championship play off semi- final second leg match between Sheffield United and Preston North End (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Greg Halford celebrates his goal for Sheffield United during the Coca-Cola Championship play off semi- final second leg match between Sheffield United and Preston North End (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Greg Halford has revealed for the first time that he has been diagnosed with autism as an adult.

Halford spent a season on loan at Sheffield United from Sunderland in 2008/09, helping the Blades into the Championship play-off final where they would eventually lose to Burnley.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

This move had come after another loan spell at Charlton from the Black Cats, who had signed the central defender from Reading where a big money move had failed to work out.

Speaking about his time at the Royals, who he had joined after impressing as a youngster with Colchester, Halford admitted that he found it difficult to fit in and in recent years former team mates had been critical of his behaviour.

Halford has since put that behaviour down to having autism, which at the time he wasn't aware of.

"Obviously, I haven't told anyone this in the football world, but I am on the spectrum of autism so change and not knowing at that time and fitting into a new group of people," Halford told the UndrTheCosh Podcast.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Changing the way I lived, where I lived, to being away from my family, my girlfriend at the time - I found it very, very hard. It was hard to interact with people.

"After training, I never wanted to go into the training ground as I didn't really want to be around and I felt awkward, it was a weird sensation, so I would just go home.

"I would do my training and then go home, being on the pitch was completely different, that is my area and I can control myself there but when it is small intimate groups, I found it very difficult at that time."

Halford left United at the end of his loan period and went on to join Wolves before becoming something of a journeyman around the EFL with spells at Portsmouth, Nottingham Forest, Brighton, Rotherham, Birmingham and Southend, as well as spending time in Scotland with Aberdeen.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He has since dropped into non-league and now, age 38, turns out for Hashtag United.

He added: "I didn't know at the time [that he was autistic]. I only found out and got the diagnosis after I had my son when he was diagnosed as he was exactly the same as me when I was his age.

"I always knew I was different in some kind of way, I just didn't understand what it was and so it was one of them things. Football gave me a way, because I was being put into so many new situations, that I was able to grow.

"By the time I was moving to places like Portsmouth, I had already had four or five moves and every time it was a lot easier to interact with people. I learned and grew and I could go into a new club today and be comfortable."

Related topics: