Ex-Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland has revealed how he struggled with mental health problems on a daily basis during his time at the club.
Speaking to Sky Sports on World Mental Health Day, the former England international said he now realises that he “came close to not being here”.
Kirkland pinpointed his move from Wigan to Sheffield Wednesday in 2012 as a time where he felt out of his comfort zone and began to notice a difference in his mental health.
The 37-year-old said that after six years with the Latics, the transition to life at Wednesday was tough and he felt anxious on a daily basis about travelling from his home to training in Sheffield.
Kirkland, who also had spells with Liverpool and Preston North End, revealed that he wasn’t fully concentrating on football during the week because he worried about traffic and getting home to see his family.
He said: “When it came to games at the weekend, I don’t know what it was but I managed to block it out for the matches.
“For the first two years I played near enough every game, I got player of the season the first year.”
But when the match finished, Kirkland would think of how quickly he could get home and said that his worries kept eating away at him.
“It had gradually become too much for me and in the third year when Keiren Westwood came in, it was a relief that I wasn’t going to play”
“It’s horrible and it’s upsetting saying it but that’s the point that I got to.”
Kirkland, who is now part of the coaching setup with Liverpool Women, said that then-Owls goalkeeping coach Andy Rhodes was “magnificent” after realising something was wrong, even though club chiefs were unaware he was struggling.