“Every interaction became hard work.”
Danny Murphy has, for the first time, opened up on the mental health struggles he endured after retiring from football in 2013.
The former Liverpool, Spurs and Fulham midfielder has revealed that he found it incredibly difficult to make the transition from professional footballer to former player.
Murphy admitted that he turned to alcohol, drugs and gambling which caused him to lose the majority of his life savings.
“I enjoyed the first couple of years after retirement in 2013, playing golf, doing media work and taking family holidays, but what happened afterwards hit me like a sledgehammer,” Murphy wrote in The Daily Mail.
“The realisation I wouldn’t play football again, combined with the loss of most of my savings, left me suffering from depression, something I was in denial about at the time.
“During the dark days, which lasted 12 months, I indulged in drink, drugs and gambling. My marriage broke down, I fell out with my brothers and friends and became really isolated.”
Murphy laid bare his issues in the hope of making others aware of the pitfalls that often come in footballers’ post-playing careers.
The ex-England international eventually acknowledged that he was suffering with depression and sought professional help.
“Once it fully sank in that I’d never play football again and I’d have to deal with other problems without it, I looked for some kind of fulfilment and escape in the wrong ways,” Murphy continued.
“I’d go out drinking and gambling for longer. I’d dabble in drugs. What started out as sociable activities led over time to being isolated. The vices would be moved behind closed doors. And of course the problems I wanted to leave behind had doubled in my head the following morning.
“I realise now I was depressed. But I didn’t recognise it at the time, or maybe I didn’t want to. Instead, I struggled on, badly. Every interaction became hard work.”
Murphy, who is now a popular pundit, initially found it difficult turning to friends and family to discuss his problems but it paved the way for his introduction to therapy.
“I embraced professional therapy and it was the start of my recovery,” Murphy concluded. “I have a great relationship with my kids, have a wonderful partner who has been amazing and I’m back on good terms with my siblings. We didn’t speak for more than a year when I was at my worst.
“Therapy stops you blaming yourself for feeling bad and starts to analyse why. Of course, I’d hope that today’s players can avoid the pitfalls that beset me and many of my generation.”