Refreshingly honest interview: Ice hockey star Ben O’Connor talks about depression hit hard while being away from his Sheffield home

Ben O'Connor has revealed how he was struck by depression despite his high-profile job in Swedish ice hockey.

The brilliant defenceman left Leksands to return to Sheffield Steelers at the weekend, relieved to be back in the city he feels most at home in.

Ben O'Connor. Pic by Dean Woolley

Ben O'Connor. Pic by Dean Woolley

He revealed that family values had been at the heart of his decision to return, although his wife and child had enjoyed their brief spell overseas.

"It wasn't an easy decision," O'Connor told The Star.

"It's one I have been thinking about for a couple of weeks, I approached the GM in Leksands two weeks ago and told him how I was feeling.

"Some people might say I gave up or I'm a failure but my game over there went very well; they (Leksands) were very happy with me.

"But when you have got a young family and you are 30 years old, there are a lot more things that go into life than hockey.

"It is not easy when you have got a young child and you move your whole family away. My wife was very supportive of my decision, she said she'd support me either way.

"I was pretty low, I was pretty depressed for quite a while.

"It wasn't healthy, that's not me, my personality is outgoing and I like to be vocal in the room and that wasn't happening.

"I was pretty down, really suffering. It wasn't healthy for the team or me” said the GB man.

He said his wife and child enjoyed it in Sweden, "but personally for myself, it wasn't for me.

"It's a lot different, I spent four years in Kazakhstan, I spent four years in Canada as a kid and a year in France.

"Moving away is not a problem for me, but when you have got a wife and a young family you have to do what's best for yourself and them. If anybody begrudges me for that they have got pretty poor family values."

O'Connor said club official David Simms was the architect of his return to South Yorkshire.

"We got the deal done and I am so happy to be home.

"I have got a house in Sheffield, friends in Sheffield, not just on the team but away from the rink.

"I love this club, I have been here since I was a kid, watching a Grand Slam, and am so happy to be home."

O'Connor said he'd not negotiated a contract with Steelers yet - he'd just wanted to get back to UK, to play against Nottingham Panthers, a game Steelers won 2-1.

More Sheffield Steelers players on the way?