ROY CARROLL revealed he ‘would have died from drink’ after becoming an alcoholic.
But now the former Manchester United goalkeeper is determined to help others tackle their struggles.
Carroll, 43, spent four years at Old Trafford between 2001 and 2005 and also had spells at clubs including Wigan, West Ham and Olympiacos.
The 45-cap Northern Ireland international returned to football to play for Irish outfit Dungannon Swifts in January after being hit hard by lockdown restrictions.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, the stopper said: “I’ve been off the drink now for ten years in June. It’s a habit, you get into a routine.
“It can happen to anybody with depression and drinking quite heavily in the house, nothing else to look forward to, just having a couple of beers.
“It gets worse the longer lockdown is. You have a few drinks and more drinks the next night. That’s you, you’re addicted.”
Carroll continued: “I was just in a dark room and drinking heavily. I had no outside help. Nobody knew what was wrong with me because I never spoke about it.
“Everybody thought I was the happiest guy in the world but I would go home, shut the door and bang my head against the wall, have a few drinks to try and forget.
“For me, it was getting rid of the depression. You’d have loads to drink and forget about it. The next day it got worse and you’re back on the drink. It doesn’t work.
“I’d been good for quite a long time until this [coronavirus lockdowns]. It doesn’t matter how strong you are, it knocks you down.
“I would have to fight very hard sitting in the house. I was struggling with it because I didn’t know what I could do, then Dungannon came in for me. I never thought I would be back playing again after being out for so long.
“I feel sorry for the thousands of kids, men and women who can’t play sport. I know how serious that is for mental health.”
Carroll detailed the extent of his troubles with alcohol and depression, which started at the Hammers in 2006 while sidelined with a back injury.
The drinking continued at Rangers, Derby and Danish side Odense – but got a lot worse when he had no club for nine months.
While living on his own in Canary Wharf – separated from his wife Kerry and two children – he looked himself in the mirror in June 2011 and turned his life around.
He added: “I had a lot of time on my hands, my drinking was crazy. If I hadn’t stopped, I wouldn’t be here today. I don’t feel my body would have held up to it.
“I was never at that stage where I would have killed myself. I was quite lucky I wasn’t that far ahead. But I would have died from the drink.
NHS guidelines on drinking alcohol
According to the NHS, regularly drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week risks damaging your health.
To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level if you drink most weeks:
- men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis
- spread your drinking over 3 or more days if you regularly drink as much as 14 units a week
- if you want to cut down, try to have several drink-free days each week
If you’re pregnant or think you could become pregnant, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all to keep risks to your baby to a minimum.
You read more on the NHS website.
“The stuff I was drinking and the way I was drinking it, I wouldn’t have woken up one morning. I don’t care about alcohol any more.
“The first four or five years were very difficult but now I don’t need it. I’m mad enough without the drink.
“But the depression will come back once in a while. I’m never going to get rid of it.”
Carroll – who made 72 appearances for United, winning the Premier League and FA Cup – wants to ensure he can pass on his experiences and make sure others do not fall into the same trap.
He joined Mid-Ulster League Division Three side FC Mindwell last year alongside Keith Gillespie, a club founded for men with mental health issues.
Carroll added: “I just want to give something back because I went through a really bad time with depression and alcohol. I want people to understand it’s OK to talk.
“I appreciated what FC Mindwell were doing. I didn’t realise how serious it was until I first moved back home in 2016. It opened my eyes.”
If you need help, you can contact Alcoholics Anonymous, www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk and 0800 917 7650.