Tag Archives: suicide

Jason Puncheon back in favour at Southampton

Jason is Puncheon his weight at last after scoring Saints' winner against Reading

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 9 December 2012

The remarkable turnaround at Southampton is matched by the remarkable turnaround in the career of their match-winner against Reading.

In January Jason Puncheon looked like he had committed career suicide when he used Twitter to slam Southampton executive chairman Nicola Cortese – his boss.

Puncheon didn’t pull any punches. He accused the Swiss-Italian of forcing him to train with the youngsters, called him ‘Nicolina’ and threatened to spend the rest of his contract, that runs until 2013, training with the reserves and youth team.

Main man: Jason Puncheon (second right) celebrates scoring against Reading

Main man: Jason Puncheon (second right) celebrates scoring against Reading

Puncheon patch-up

What he said Saturday, January 21:

‘I’m not going no where gonna sit an train with the reserves/kids for 18months see how cortese likes that then go on free.

‘Most of u fail to understand that only reason I train with the kids is cos of nicolina not the manager.

‘He won’t speak to face to face that’s how much a man he is.’

What he said Saturday, December 8:

‘People make out Nicola to be a
stern, stubborn character but what he is, is a man of his word. You have
to always give credit to that. He has a good driving force behind
himself.

'When I joined I remember the day I
signed he said this football club will be in the Premier League in five
years time – it happened in three years.’

But then Cortese called him in for clear-the-air talks and the winger apologised to him. The next day he was back in training.

Fast-forward 10 months and he found the bottom left corner with a shot across goal in the 61st minute against Reading to lift Saints out of the relegation zone for the first time this season.

It was his fourth goal in all competitions this season and third in the league and he has established himself as one of Southampton’s most dangerous attacking threats.

‘It’s all about growing and maturing as an adult and a player and I’m doing that now,’ Puncheon said after scoring that goal. ‘The gaffer has given me a platform and given me a chance and I’ve grasped it with two hands. That’s what’s happened and that’s why we are where we are.

‘I wasn’t nervous about [meeting Nicola] because he is a man of his word. We had a meeting, we spoke. The next day I was at training. That was the most important thing for me to be settled and start playing again. We had clear-the-air talks and as far as I’m concerned that’s all history. I’m just pleased to get the chance and keep producing.’

Rescued: Puncheon (left) had looked to be heading out of Southampton

Rescued: Puncheon (left) had looked to be heading out of Southampton

His outburst in January followed three loan spells to Millwall, Blackpool and QPR in just less than two years, the first of which came 10 months after his arrival at the club in February 2010. It was during two seasons when Saints were flying and won back-to-back promotions that has landed them back in the Premier League.

They did not drop below fifth in League One in the entire second half of the 2010/11 season. The next campaign in the Championship they did not drop out of the top two at all.

‘It was difficult for me to come back as much as I was loaned out I was coming back to a team that was winning week-in-week-out,’ the 26-year-old added.

‘The club were second in the Championship when I came back and were in the top two all season it’s hard to come back in and hit the ground running the way the boys were playing. I knew coming back having a good preseason would be the start for me and that’s what I needed.

Turnaround: Southampton manager Nigel Adkins has worked wonders

Turnaround: Southampton manager Nigel Adkins has worked wonders

‘I learned a lot from all different types of experiences. That’s what’s helped me now to be settled and to mature as an adult and a player. I wouldn’t change anything the way I went about my career so far, I wouldn’t change any of it. That’s helped me grow as a player and as a human being.’

His manager Nigel Adkins believes Puncheon deserves all the credit he gets. The 56-year-old said: ‘We treat people as human beings and they have all got to be allowed to make mistakes and grow. All the credit that Jason will get now is down to him because he is the one who has got to do it. He’s a great story. It shows how well people can do when you give them an opportunity.’

Following back-to-back promotions Southampton appeared to be punching above their weight in the Premier League at the start of the season. But Puncheon’s goal on Saturday moved them to 15th and they are starting to look like they fit in as well as the midfielder does in their team.

Kansas City Chiefs play first game after Jovan Belcher incident

Kansas City Chiefs put on brave face in wake of Belcher shooting tragedy

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UPDATED:

00:22 GMT, 3 December 2012

Despite the turmoil surround the murder and suicide case involving linebacker Jovan Belcher the Kansas City Chiefs managed to beat the Carolina Panthers 27-21.

Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend in front of his mother at their Kansas City home on Saturday, then drove to the team's practice facility, where he committed suicide in the parking lot as head coach Romeo Crennel and General Manager Scott Pioli watched.

The tragedy dampened the atmosphere at the Arrowhead Stadium and tempered the joy of the victory, which snapped an eight-game losing streak and improved Kansas City's record to 2-10.

Respect: Kansas City Chiefs and Carolina Panthers players form a prayer circle after the game

Respect: Kansas City Chiefs and Carolina Panthers players form a prayer circle after the game

Arm in arm: The players stand for a moment of silence

Arm in arm: The players stand for a moment of silence

'You relied on your faith to help get you through this, and we got through it,' Crennel told the team in the locker room after the game.

'Everybody made a contribution, everybody helped, and that's what a team is about.'

Quarterback Brady Quinn said the tragedy weighed heavily on the players and the victory was meaningful because it showed 'how guys clung together.'

'This will stick with us the rest of the year,' Quinn told FM 101.1 radio.

Tight end Tony Moeaki credited Crennel and Pioli for demonstrating leadership after witnessing the suicide and supporting the team.

Subdued: Fans showed their sadness after the incidents

Subdued: Fans showed their sadness after the incidents

'You can't put it into words what we
went through as a team,' Moeaki told the radio. 'They really stayed
strong for us and that was key.'

Kansas
City fans are known for their elaborate pre-game tailgating parties,
but many said the mood was subdued on Sunday. A moment of silence for
all victims of domestic violence was held before the game.

Embrace: Clark Hunt, the owner of the Kansas City Chiefs with head coach Romeo Crennel after the Chiefs' win

Embrace: Clark Hunt, the owner of the Kansas City Chiefs with head coach Romeo Crennel after the Chiefs' win

'It is a sad situation, but to me, ultimately, the man committed murder,' Chiefs' fan Tony Alonzo said. 'The big picture is that it was a murder.'

Fans lamented the death of Kasandra Perkins, 22, and turned their thoughts to the couple's 3-month-old daughter.

'That is who you feel for, this 3-month-old child,' fan Ira Thomas said before the game. 'She has to grow up without her parents and, as she gets older, someone in the family will tell her what happened and that might set her back a few years.'

Game over: Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles leaves the field

Game over: Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles leaves the field

/12/03/article-2242057-16521938000005DC-325_634x423.jpg” width=”634″ height=”423″ alt=”Crunch: Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is tackled by Carolina Panthers defensive back Josh Thomas” class=”blkBorder” />

Crunch: Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is tackled by Carolina Panthers defensive back Josh Thomas

After discussions with the league, Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt left the decision about whether to play with Crennel and the team. They decided the game should go on.

'Romeo called the team captains yesterday afternoon… and they all wanted to play the game,' Hunt told ESPN on the field before the game. 'And I asked coach Crennel, “Do you think the right thing is to go forward” and he said, “I do. Under the circumstances, it's going to be tough.”'

Hunt visited the team on Saturday night.

'I wanted to tell them that I love them and I understand what they are going through,' Hunt said.

Kansas City Mayor Sylvester James likened the tragedy to 'your worst nightmare.'

'It's unfathomable,' James told reporters. 'It's something that you would love to wash away from your mind, but you can't do it. There is nothing like it. Think about your worst nightmare and multiply by five.'

Close: Kansas City Chiefs coach Crennel, right, talks with quarterback Brady Quinn after the game

Close: Kansas City Chiefs coach Crennel, right, talks with quarterback Brady Quinn after the game

Gary Speed suicide anniversary: Leon McKenzie book serialisation – I raced back from training to my hotel room determined to kill myself

LEON McKENZIE BOOK EXCLUSIVE: Nothing could stop me now.
I raced back from training to my hotel room determined to kill myself… I was sick of players, coaches and fans staring at me.

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UPDATED:

15:50 GMT, 27 November 2012

On the anniversary of Gary Speed's tragic
death, Sportsmail publishes here the harrowing opening chapter of Leon
McKenzie's autobiography 'My Fight With Life'. In the first extract of
an exclusive MailOnline serialisation, the former Premier League striker
recounts the bleakest of days when he tried to take his own life.
+++ WARNING: DISTURBING CONTENT +++.

I’d had enough of life, my life at least, so it was time to end it all.

Thoughts of suicide had popped in and out of my head for a while now, but for the last week they’d been pretty much permanent visitors.

A pulled hamstring towards the end of a training session pushed me over the edge. It was a relatively trivial moment for sure, and an occupational hazard for a footballer, but I’d been beating myself up mentally for months and this was the punch that knocked me down and out.

I could think of only one way to escape the misery that had enveloped my life. At that horrible time I couldn’t explain why I felt numb, empty and desolate. On the outside I had everything, but inside I was lost in a fog of uncertainty.

Dark times: Former Premier League striker Leon McKenzie, who has battled depression throughout his career, at his Northamptonshire home last year

Dark times: Former Premier League striker Leon McKenzie, who has battled depression throughout his career, at his Northamptonshire home last year

TOMORROW: PART II OF MailOnline's EXCLUSIVE SERIALISATION…
Charles Bronson and Myra Hindley – life in prison and how the PFA failed depressed footballers like meLEON McKENZIE: My Fight With Life

Published by MacAnthonyMedia, priced 7.99

Leon McKenzie: My Fight With Life

Click here to buy your copy now…

I knew deep down that suicide was selfish. I knew it would cause misery and desperation to the people I loved the most and I know now that’s what depression does to you.

You don’t think straight. Hope is abandoned. Back then logic and rational thought had left my head months before leaving just one idea swimming back and forth inside my mind.

I wanted out. No ifs, no buts, no maybes, I wanted out and I wanted out today.

I was a man with a beautiful, loving wife and three young children who meant the world to me. They were my life and yet I wanted to leave them behind to try and find a better place for me.

They’d be better off without me anyway. I wasn’t contributing much. I didn’t want my sadness to crush them.

Inexplicable thoughts (although they seemed perfectly sensible at the time) like that were running through my head day after miserable, stinking day. I was trapped in a maze of mood swings that made little sense.

I’d lost sight of what was good and positive in my life. I saw only misery and uncertainty ahead.

The people I worked with didn’t suspect a thing. I appeared normal to them. I would appear calm, in good humour, one of the lads, someone without a care in the world.

That was how it was in the world of professional football. You had to keep up appearances, join in the banter as most people at that time, in this macho, testosterone-filled world would view mental illness as a weakness rather than a problem that needed attention, a problem that demanded help.

I was good at keeping up appearances. I could be a livewire in the dressing room, laughing, shouting and bantering as loudly as anyone.

Inside I was dying though and I was gradually convincing myself that suicide was the best way to escape the torment.

I was a footballer at Charlton
Athletic coming to the end of a career that had included two spells in
the Premier League, an appearance at Wembley, a couple of promotions and
some memorable and magical moments.

But
I wasn’t really a footballer any more as I was permanently injured and
couldn’t string two games together for my latest club.

Scroll down for video…

Leon McKenzie of Norwich is foiled by Shay Given of Newcastle during the Barclays Premiership match between Norwich City and Newcastle United at Carrow Road on April 20, 2005

Boxer Clinton McKenzie, with his son Leon McKenzie, in the ring

Premier class: McKenzie is fouled by Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given (left) to win a Barclays Premier League penalty for Norwich in 2005 and in the ring with his British light welterweight champion boxer dad, Clinton (right). McKenzie's father saved his son after Leon attempted suicide at a south-east London hotel

LEON McKENZIE: Factfile…

Full name: Leon Mark McKenzie
Date of birth: May 17, 1978 (age 34)
Place of birth: Croydon
Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)

Club information

Current club: Corby Town
Youth career: Crystal Palace

Senior career
Apps† Gls
1995–2000 Crystal Palace 85 7
1997 → Fulham (loan) 3 0
1998 → Peterborough (loan) 14 8
2000–2003 Peterborough 90 46
2003–2006 Norwich City 79 20
2006–2009 Coventry City 62 12
2009–2010 Charlton Athletic 12 0
2010–2011 Northampton Town 27 10
2011 Kettering Town 9 2
2012- Corby Town 10 3

People, fans especially, would still envy my lifestyle. They’d assume I was collecting a few grand a week and living comfortably for doing very little, but I hated my existence.

For as long as I could remember, or at least from the time that I chose football over the family tradition of boxing, I just wanted to score goals, I wanted to play at the highest level, I wanted to be loved.

I’d achieved it all, but now it had been taken away from me by a body struggling to the point of collapse with the demands of my work. That had led to my mind falling apart as well. Now I just couldn’t face the future.

After signing me, Charlton had put me up in a Marriott Hotel in Bexleyheath. I’d been there for four months, returning to an empty room after training in the early hours of the afternoon, collecting my room key, making sure the door was locked behind me, pulling the curtains, lying on the bed and either staring into space or just bursting into tears, usually the latter, often both.

I had no energy, no drive. All through my football career I’d flogged myself to the limits in training and on the pitch, and I generally lived a hectic life, but now I couldn’t even be bothered to switch the TV on in my room, or make a drink, or visit the bathroom.

The sheer weight of this illness is hard to explain to those who have never come into contact with it.

I wasn’t mad. I didn’t feel like I’d gone crazy and there was no chance of me making trouble for anyone. I didn’t have the passion that would make me rant and rave or to fight with anyone. My head was empty apart from that persistent thought of suicide.

Some sufferers of depression never get to the suicide stage. I seemed to arrive there quickly. Anxiety had used up most of my energy, and all of my fight.
I certainly didn’t want to be with anyone on those miserable afternoons. I had no idea what the Charlton players did after lunch because I didn’t mix with them once the chore of training had been completed.

Former glories: Leon McKenzie, who has battled depression throughout his career, poses at his Northamptonshire home in front of his collection of signed shirts

Former glories: Leon McKenzie, who has battled depression throughout his career, poses at his Northamptonshire home in front of his collection of signed shirts

Fighting on: McKenzie has battled back from his suicide bid and is now playing for Corby Town in the Blue Square North (Conference)

Fighting on: McKenzie has battled back from his suicide bid and is now playing for Corby Town in the Blue Square North (Conference)

Sofia, my wife, would call. She was living in the family home with our daughter in Northampton. I’d answer, but I wasn’t really there. I knew how hard I’d worked to make myself a Premier League footballer and now I was feeling desperately sorry for myself because my entire career was coming to an end.

No-one had prepared me for the end of my playing days. As my career had taken off, it was all big promises of fame and massive earnings. I was surrounded by sycophants and well wishers telling me nothing could go wrong now I’d made it to the big time. I was set up for life.

I wasn’t prepared for the reality of a career collapsing in a heap, the prospect of future obscurity , and God only knows what else.

Powerhouse: McKenzie celebrates after scoring the second goal for Norwich in a famous 2-0 win over Manchester United in April 2005

Powerhouse: McKenzie celebrates after scoring the second goal for Norwich in a famous 2-0 win over Manchester United in April 2005

This was tough and, in my head at least, I was dealing with it all on my own.

I was sick of players, coaching staff and fans staring at me. I knew what they were thinking: ‘look at Leon, he’s injured and not able to play again.’

After leaving Coventry to join Charlton, I’d also got myself into serious debt which obviously didn’t help my state of mind so now was the time to act.

It was an unremarkable Tuesday morning when I finally decided to put my suicide plan into operation. I was training well, I felt fit for a change and then my hamstring went.

I pulled up. I couldn’t run anymore. I was jinxed so what was the point in carrying on, in football or in life.

I
could sense everyone glaring at me. There was sympathy from people at
the club, but not everyone, and to be fair I felt embarrassed and guilty
myself.

I was embarrassed
because I was desperate to show this club how good I could be. Instead
my body was breaking down and I was crying inside.

I
went to the medical room for treatment. It was a path I knew well. I
was on my own in there for a while and I just sat there on a treatment
bed and roared my eyes out.

While
I was there, I casually asked the club doctor for some sleeping pills,
explaining that I was having too many restless nights and I was
struggling to get through training as a result.

He
gave me a batch to help me but like the rest of the club staff, he had
no idea that what I was really suffering was a lot worse than a bout of
insomnia. He also couldn’t have known that I already had a separate
batch of 20 sleeping pills back at the hotel.

I
had enough now to be sure of making my exit. I also had some
anti-inflammatories and there was an unopened bottle of Jack Daniels in
my hotel room to wash everything down.

Nothing
could stop me now. I drove to the hotel car park and rang my mum. I
burst into tears, telling her that I couldn’t take any more pain, any
more anguish. I was sick of being injured and scared about what the
future held for me.

Mum
started crying. She hated how unhappy I had become. She hated the fact
that injuries had started to interrupt my career on a regular basis and
she now decided she wanted me to give up playing.

Good old mum- always practical, always caring- but she hadn’t grasped what I was planning.

I fooled myself that the mental struggles I was experiencing ran deeper than a career that was coming to an inglorious end.

I tried to convince myself that I had nothing left to prove or achieve anyway. I’d found and married my soul-mate, I’d played football at the highest level, I’d scored 100 goals, I’d fathered three beautiful children.

What else was there Especially as my body had now given way.

I look back at those days now and cringe. I realise now that my ‘Queen B’, my name for Sofia, and my children were reason enough to keep going, but I must have been in a bad, dark place that particular night, a place I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

I decided the world was now horrible and unforgiving and I’d seen enough of it. I wanted to join my sister Tracey who had taken her own life aged 23 eight years earlier.

I had no professional help from
within or from outside of football while I struggled with my thoughts.
I’d seen no doctors or medical experts on depression and I didn’t feel
able to tell anyone within my sport as there appeared little chance of
finding any understanding.

I’d even pushed my loving wife away.

Read Neil Ashton's exclusive interview with Leon McKenzie from December 2011…
Click here to read the full exclusive interview

Now
it was time to go. I was sure of that. I had the means and there was
no-one to stop me. I put the phone down on mum and raced into the hotel.
I had to do this before I could change my mind.

I
lay on the bed and chucked one pill after another into my mouth, and
after each batch of five or six tablets, I took a decent swig of
whiskey.

I was relentless. I was dedicated to death. This was serious shit now. I couldn’t stop myself and I didn’t want to.

Inside five minutes 40 sleeping tablets and several antiinflammatories were in my system along with half a bottle of whiskey.

Leon McKenzie, Norwich City, celebrates scoring against Crystal Palace in 2005

Leon McKenzie of Norwich City jumps a tackle from Kenny Cunningham of Birmingham City

Leon McKenzie celebrates his goal in the 2-0 win for Peterborough over Cardiff

Life in the spotlight: McKenzie celebrates scoring Norwich's second in their April 2005 2-0 win over Manchester United (left), jumping a tackle from Kenny Cunningham of Birmingham City (centre) and celebrating scoring against Cardiff for Peterborough (right)

I’d surely done it. I don’t recall much, there was no memory of an inner-peace, no sense of relief, no life flashing before me, just a longing to fall asleep for one last time.

But then I thought of my dad. I needed to say thank you and goodbye to my big, powerful father who had always been there for me, supporting me during every step of the way in my life.

I had followed his path into professional sport and he was one of the major reasons why I had travelled as far as I had.

Even in my semi-conscious state, I told myself I had to speak to him one last time. I don’t believe it was a sub-conscious cry for help or one last attempt to get people to see and understand my problems as for all I knew my dad could have been on the other side of the country, unable to make a difference.

I wasn’t panicking. In fact, I was
eerily calm. I told dad I’d done something stupid. I told him I’d taken
loads of pills. He freaked out, while I crashed around the room before
collapsing on the bed and passing out.

In amongst it: McKenzie (centre in Norwich kit) competes for the ball in the West Brom box during a 2004 Premier League encounter at Carrow Road

In amongst it: McKenzie (centre in Norwich kit) competes for the ball in the West Brom box during a 2004 Premier League encounter at Carrow Road

Ledley King of Spurs clashes with Leon McKenzie of Norwich

Leon McKenzie (left) of Coventry and QPR's Peter Ramage

Cut and thrust: McKenzie challenges Tottenham legend Ledley King (left) and battles it out for Coventry City against QPR in the Championship (right)

It turned out dad was close by.

I
had been drifting in and out of consciousness for what seemed like
hours when dad burst in with a couple of members of the hotel staff.
I was groggy, my eyes were heavy and shut, but I could still hear.

Leon McKenzie: My Fight With Life

My dad’s voice was faint, but full of concern: ‘Champ, wake up,’ he was repeating over and over again.

Then my world went black and silent. I assumed this was death.

I was wrong. I came round the next
morning in hospital. Sofia was there with my mum, dad, cousins, Tracey’s
mum Kim, my elder sister Rebecca, everyone I loved deeply, they were
all there.

And they were
all in tears. They were expecting, hoping, to hear some words to suggest
I’d reached rock bottom and that I’d now fight my way back up.
'It didn’t work then,' I said, finally realising I was still alive.

My mum stormed out of the room, appalled at what I had just said.

And
I wasn’t joking. I was disappointed to still be around. The nurse said
that one or two more pills would have done the job and that I was lucky,
but that was the last thing I felt.

Dad
had been 10 minutes away when I called him and he’d arrived in the nick
of time. That was also lucky, but frustrating from my illogical point
of view.
I instantly regretted not blagging some more pills from the Charlton medical staff.

I’d failed to kill myself and I was still depressed. More so because of what I’d just put those I loved the most through. My nightmare was to continue.

I was discharged that morning, so I got up, picked up my kit and went off to the football ground for treatment on my hamstring.

Life must go on even if you didn’t want it to.

LEON McKENZIE: My Fight With Life, Published by MacAnthonyMedia, priced 7.99. Click here to buy your copy now…
VIDEO: McKenzie on his new autobiography…

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Ian Thorpe on his depression and suicidal thoughts

Depression and thoughts of suicide: Swimming legend Thorpe opens up about troubles

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UPDATED:

00:27 GMT, 14 November 2012

Australian five-time Olympic champion Ian Thorpe has revealed more about his fight against depression and thoughts of suicide which plagued his record-breaking career.

In a revealing interview on BBC Radio 5 Live the 30-year-old opened up about his troubles away from the pool that led him to consider taking his own life.

Amongst his revelations Thorpe said he had been treated for depression since he was a teenager and that it had led him to drink during the night in the lead-up to the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Revealing: Five-time Olympic swimming gold medallist Australia's Ian Thorpe explained more about his depression

Revealing: Five-time Olympic swimming gold medallist Australia's Ian Thorpe explained more about his depression

He also recounted that he had been too 'embarrassed' to tell even his family about the disease until this year.

While Thorpe believes he has now learned to control the problem enough to speak about it publicly – he has also released an autobiography entitled 'This Is Me' – he admitted there were 'still times that are really tough for me'.

'I realised that I had desperation early. I was having treatment for desperation when I was a teenager,' he said.

'Depression comes in bouts. You can feel okay most days and then just get hit with it. I experienced that through what was mostly a very successful swimming career.

Autobiography: This is me

Autobiography: This is me

For sale: Thorpe has had his autobiography published, pictured right

'I have struggled with it before but I feel like I am on the other side of it. There are still times that are really tough for me, but I feel as though I know enough about it.

'There's no way that I'll ever say that I'm cured because I know where I can go back to.

'It's the first time that I've been comfortable talking about it because I feel as though I have some sort of control.'

Asked whether he had ever contemplated suicide during a glittering career that also saw him claim 11 world titles, he added: 'Yeah, I wouldn't talk about it otherwise. It's not something that is a throw-away line.

Admission: Thorpe said he had thought about suicide

Admission: Thorpe said he had thought about suicide

'I actually think it's quite normal
for people to consider what it would be like to commit suicide. I think
it is a normal thing to think 'what would that feel like, would it be so
terrible'

'But usually that's all you think
about, that's it. When you go through what the process of what it would
be like and it becomes and obsession in your mind where all rational
thought is devoid in that situation you realise that this has gone
beyond just a thought.

'When you are trying to get it out of
your mind rationally and you can't. To consider it as being a rational
solution to the way you are feeling you realise this is a problem, that
this isn't just a fleeting thought or feeling.

'This is a very clear guideline that
you do need more help and that you're not in control of your life and
that the irrational thought has taken over.'

Popular: Thorpe is one of Australia's most recognised sports people

Popular: Thorpe is one of Australia's most recognised sports people

Disguise: Thorpe felt he could hide the truth from his colleagues

Disguise: Thorpe felt he could hide the truth from his colleagues

Thorpe revealed that a key moment in
his recovery was realising the extent of his problems in the lead up to
the 2004 Olympics, when he was drinking to avoid his demons.

He said: 'Leading up to Athens Olympics I was actually drinking in the night to try and avoid be depressed.

'Everyone knows that doesn't work.
It's a stupid thing to do and so you wake up the next morning, have a
hangover and you are more depressed than you were the day before.

'I was fortunate that I woke up to
this. I needed to seek more treatment. It's not that I got over it –
there is no way of getting over this – it was that I have a little bit
more control over my depression.'

Winner: Thorpe shows his gold medal after winning the 400m freestyle at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece

Winner: Thorpe shows his gold medal after winning the 400m freestyle at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece

Thorpe made an unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the London Olympics after coming out of a four-year retirement in late 2010.

Despite that failure he revealed he
still harboured ambitions to compete at Rio in four years and that he
would look to add to his Commonwealth titles in Glasgow in two years.

'I'm going to work in two-year cycles.
I'm looking to swim until the Commonwealth Games and then make a call
on whether to swim through until the Olympics after that,' he said.

'Starting out when I came back I knew the odds were stacked against me (to qualify for the Olympics).

'I thought it was 50-50. Realistically I thought it would take three years to get back.'

Ricky Hatton reveals how close he came to suicide

Hatton: I came so close to suicide that my girlfriend prised a knife from my hand

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UPDATED:

12:30 GMT, 28 October 2012

Ricky Hatton has revealed just how close he came to committing suicide following during his three-year retirement from boxing.

The 34-year-old said his girlfriend often had to prise a knife from his hand as depression took its toll on his life.

Hatton, who has had had well-publicised battles with drink, drugs and depression after his loss to Manny Pacquiao in his last fight since May 2009, will return to the ring against Ukraine's Vyacheslav Senchenko next month.

Back again: Ricky Hatton will return to the ring on November 24 in Manchester

Back again: Ricky Hatton will return to the ring on November 24 in Manchester

He told Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme: 'I was near to a nervous breakdown, depression, suicidal. Most mornings my girlfriend would have to come downstairs and take a knife out of my hand. I had a knife at my wrists, I was in a really bad way, just hysterically crying for no reason.

'I've always liked a little bit of a drink, but my drinking had gone way off the Richter scale, I was having blackouts.

'And even if I was stone cold sober I was trying to kill myself. The real lowest point was when my little girl came along, who is one-year-old now. [Hatton's son] Campbell had the misfortune to see his dad in such a bad way, I am not going to do it any more to my kids and I'm not going to put my family though it any more.'

Hatton claims his life now is 'really rosy', but admitted in his eyes he was returning to the ring 'ashamed' and as a 'failure'.

Old days: Hatton enjoyed a drink or two

Old days: Hatton enjoyed a drink or two

'I feel sad because I feel ashamed of
myself,' he said. 'It doesn't matter how many people say, “Ricky,
everyone has problems and you got beaten my (Floyd) Mayweather (Jr) and
Pacquiao who are the two best fighters of our generation, you did the
country proud”.

'That's very kind of people to say, but they don't have to deal with this little fella who sits on my shoulder every day telling me that I'm a failure and I've let my family and my fans down and British sport, British boxing down.

'I feel a failure and it doesn't matter how many people say, “Don't be too hard on yourself”, that's how I feel and that's how I'm coming back. I feel I've got to redeem myself.

'It's more than a boxing match for me. For me everything I've done in my career, all the world titles and great wins have all been for nothing. That's how I feel.

'I feel I have to come back and redeem myself as a man to my fans, my family, my friends, loved ones, just the whole of British sport to be honest. Because it doesn't mater how many people say it to me, I feel like I've let everyone own. I've got to put the demon and those ghosts to rest.'

Hatton said he had thought about how he would handle a defeat against Senchenko on November 24, saying: 'I would rather get flattened again so I could look at myself in the mirror and say, “You know what Ricky, you gave it your best shot”. Whether I win, lose or draw, I've already won from where I came in.”

'I want people to look at me as a
four-time world champion, man of the people and not look at me as this
joke I feel I've become.'

Knocked out: Hatton was last in action when losing to Manny Pacquiao

Knocked out: Hatton was last in action when losing to Manny Pacquiao

Hatton said his current weight of 11 stone two pounds was 'music to his ears” one month out from a fight at which he must be 10st 7lbs.

He revealed during retirement he ballooned to 14st 10lbs.

'For 5ft 6in in height that's nothing short of heart attack material,' he said.

Hatton also claimed he would surprise the doubters in the ring.

'The way I'm performing in the gym I think everyone is going to be shocked at the Ricky Hatton that comes back,' he said.

England 1 France 1 – match report: Joleon Lescott and Samir Nasri score in Euro 2012

England 1 France 1: Hodgson's men off the mark as Three Lions share draw with Group D heavyweights in opening match

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UPDATED:

01:43 GMT, 12 June 2012

With a distinct flavour of Eastlands brought to this corner of Eastern Europe, England began their campaign in a manner that certainly removed any need for a suicide pill.

There is no need to panic. No need for Roy Hodgson to take drastic action ahead of the matches that follow against Sweden and Ukraine.

This was always going to be a tough start for England and there is much they can be content with even if Hodgson knows there remains room for improvement.

Gritty: England had to match France all over the field as they earned a draw to start Euro 2012

Gritty: England had to match France all over the field as they earned a draw to start Euro 2012

MATCH FACTS

FRANCE: Lloris, Debuchy, Rami, Mexes, Evra, Nasri, Cabaye (Ben Arfa 84), Diarra, Malouda (Martin 85), Ribery, Benzema. Subs not used: Mandanda, Giroud, Matuidi, Reveillere, Menez, M'Vila, Valbuena, Clichy, Koscielny, Carrasso.

Goals: Nasri 39.

ENGLAND: Hart, Johnson, Terry, Lescott, Cole, Milner, Gerrard, Parker (Henderson 78), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Defoe 77), Young, Welbeck (Walcott 90). Subs not used: Green, Carroll, Baines, Jones, Jagielka, Downing, Butland.

Goals: Lescott 30.

Booked: Oxlade-Chamberlain, Young

Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)

/06/11/article-2157743-138FABCA000005DC-248_634x379.jpg” width=”634″ height=”379″ alt=”Far from mellow yellow: Referee Nicola Rizzoli was a constant source of frustration for England ” class=”blkBorder” />

Far from mellow yellow: Referee Nicola Rizzoli was a constant source of frustration for England

Good scrap: Danny Welbeck impressed as the focal point of attack in the absence of Wayne Rooney

Good scrap: Danny Welbeck impressed as the focal point of attack in the absence of Wayne Rooney

Doing his part: Even the goalkeeper was putting himself on the line bravely

Doing his part: Even the goalkeeper was putting himself on the line bravely

The heat was intense, with Gerrard
and Parker exhausted by the amount of running they had to do to combat a
heavily populated French midfield. England do need to get better.

There were spells when they were good
in possession, not least in the second half, but too often they
surrendered the ball cheaply and, after celebrating Lescott's
30th-minute header, they defended too deep.

They certainly paid for that when
Nasri struck in the 39th minute. The positives, however, outweighed the
negatives and for Hodgson there must have been certain aspects of this
performance that encouraged him enormously.

England's James Milner

Big chance: James Milner goes round keeper Hugo Lloris…

England's James Milner

… and has the goal at his mercy, but the angle is narrowing…

England's James Milner

… meaning Milner can only find the side netting with his finish

If there were concerns about John
Terry playing on the right side of central defence when he prefers the
left, they disappeared inside the Donbass Arena. Terry was every inch
the 'warrior' Hodgson had spoken of on the eve of this contest and he
and Lescott were excellent as a partnership.

Ahead of them, Parker and Gerrard
were also impressive. They ran themselves into the ground, with Hodgson
replacing Parker with Jordan Henderson after 77 minutes. But the
protection they provided the back four was nothing short of heroic.

'We knew the French like to flood the
midfield,' said Hodgson and, while it might not have surprised him, it
remains an issue that needs addressing if he wants his principal
midfield pair to go the distance in this tournament.

Thinking time: Roy Hodgson, with Gary Neville and Ray Lewington, was concerned by the injury picked up by Danny Welbeck

Thinking time: Roy Hodgson, with Gary Neville and Ray Lewington, was concerned by the injury picked up by Danny Welbeck

Thinking time: Roy Hodgson, with Gary Neville and Ray Lewington, was concerned by the injury picked up by Danny Welbeck

Take your time: Welbeck needed a few minutes to shake off the injury before returning

Take your time: Welbeck needed a few minutes to shake off the injury before returning

Hodgson's boldest selection was Alex
Oxlade-Chamberlain, and again it proved a positive night for the
youngest England player to start a tournament since Keith Curle in 1992.

The 18-year-old offers England
something different and that could be useful before the anticipated
reshuffle sees Wayne Rooney force Ashley Young on to the left side the
teenager occupies. In Rooney's absence, Young did well, as did Danny
Welbeck.

Again, they will need to operate more
effectively as an attacking unit and the return of Rooney for the third
game should help them. But it was a super ball Young delivered for
Milner and one he should have made better use of. As it was, Milner sent
his effort into the side-netting and Lescott's header was England's one
effort on target.

Still got it: Laurent Blanc watched on in his first major tournament match as a manager

Still got it: Laurent Blanc watched on in his first major tournament match as a manager

Was it like watching Chelsea against
Barcelona, as Patrice Evra claimed France enjoyed 65 per cent of the
possession but Evra is flattering France as much as he is insulting
England and Chelsea. Barcelona That would have made it a far more
entertaining game than it was.

The French were decent. Mathieu
Debuchy was outstanding at full back and Alou Diarra was a powerful
presence in midfield. Going forward, too, they looked dangerous when
Franck Ribery, Nasri and Yohan Cabaye were on the ball.

But France have never won a European
Championship match without Michel Platini or Zinedine Zidane and they
did not deserve to win this one.

Head boy: Joleon Lescott put England in front with a thumping, towering header from Steven Gerrard's free-kick

Head boy: Joleon Lescott put England in front with a thumping, towering header from Steven Gerrard's free-kick

Head boy: Joleon Lescott put England in front with a thumping, towering header from Steven Gerrard's free-kick

Pure delight: Lescott was uncertain of his starting role before the game, but paid his manager back in the best possible way

Pure delight: Lescott was uncertain of his starting role before the game, but paid his manager back in the best possible way

Pure delight: Lescott was uncertain of his starting role before the game, but paid his manager back in the best possible way

Had Milner shown a touch more
composure in the 15th minute, he would have scored. It was a terrific
move. Parker to Young with Young then sending Milner clear. But having
done the difficult part and taken the ball wide of Hugo Lloris, Milner
shot wide.

From Lescott, however, an opening
goal arrived, the defender got ahead of Diarra to divert a marvellous
free-kick from Gerrard past Lloris with a thumping header.

The French did respond, and it took a
fine reaction save from Hart to deny Diarra five minutes later before
Nasri produced a finish that squeezed between Hart and his right-hand
post.

Back in it: Samir Nasri produced a world-class strike from the edge of the box to draw France level

Back in it: Samir Nasri produced a world-class strike from the edge of the box to draw France level

Back in it: Samir Nasri produced a world-class strike from the edge of the box to draw France level

Making a point: Nasri decided to 'shhh' the watching fans after his crucial goal for France

Making a point: Nasri decided to 'shhh' the watching fans after his crucial goal for France

England were defending too deep at that stage, and after the break they enjoyed a spell when they improved in that respect.

Hodgson also gave his side fresher
legs in the intense heat, sending on Jermain Defoe and Theo Walcott in
the latter stages. It did not amount to much, and nor did the changes
Laurent Blanc made either.

But if Hodgson wanted to see a
disciplined, determined performance in his first competitive game in
charge, he got one. Not to mention a championship point against a team
now unbeaten in 22 matches.

Chances: Both teams went close before the half was up, with Karim Benzema getting the best out of Joe hart

Chances: Both teams went close before the half was up, with Karim Benzema getting the best out of Joe hart

In the hunt: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was a real menace in the early stages

In the hunt: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was a real menace in the early stages

Getting forward: Steven Gerrard was at his buccaneering best from a deeper position in central midfield

Getting forward: Steven Gerrard was at his buccaneering best from a deeper position in central midfield

Lee Hendrie admits suicide attempts

Former Villa midfielder Hendrie reveals suicide attempts over 10m failed property deals

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UPDATED:

11:54 GMT, 13 May 2012

Lee Hendrie has revealed he twice tried to commit suicide after building up debts of 1million.

The former Aston Villa and England midfielder, who earned 24,000 in his heyday, lost a potential 10m in property deals.

And Hendrie has now admitted it all became too much for him.

Happier times: Lee Hendrie enjoyed a successful spell with Aston Villa

Happier times: Lee Hendrie enjoyed a successful spell with Aston Villa

'I seriously wanted to end it all,' the 34-year-old told the Sunday Mirror.

'I had everything. I played for England at Wembley in front of my family, scored goals for Villa in front of 40,000 people. I was playing with [Frank] Lampard, [Steven] Gerrard and Rio [Ferdinand]. I watch them now knowing I could still be in the top flight if it hadn’t all gone wrong.

'I couldn’t get a contract with a club. I had no money left, all the houses were going and everything just came tumbling down,” he said.

'I felt I had failed my family and I wanted out… to end it all.'

International star: Hendrie for England

International star: Hendrie for England

Hendrie will marry his fiance Emma
Cheal, 27, this week. He credits her with saving his life after he took
an overdose of tablets, washed down with wine.

But Emma called the police who managed to trace his car.

'I had texted my mum and sister, told them to look after the kids,' Hendrie adds. 'Emma rang me, I answered the phone. I was all over the place. She said “where are you” I said “don’t worry” and put the phone down Next thing I knew I was waking up in hospital on a drip.”

But that wasn't the end of his troubles. He tried to do the same thing again last July.

'I remember being sat on the edge of the toilet seat and then I stood up and looked at myself in the mirror and thought: “I am a disgrace”', he added.

'That was it, the next thing I knew I woke up in the hospital. I had been on life support because the amount of tablets I had taken had shut my body down to virtually nothing.

'I was told the bathroom door was kicked off. I was in hospital five days. I made a lot of people angry and upset again.'

After that attempt Hendrie began to face up to his problems and has attended regular counselling sessions.

Now playing non-league football and scraping a living wherever he can, Lee admitted: 'It was my wake-up call. I imagined my four children if they didn’t have their dad around.'

Troubled times: Hendrie also played for Bradford as his career came to an end

Troubled times: Hendrie also played for Bradford as his career came to an end

The death of his former Sheffield United team-mate Gary Speed, found hanged at his home, was a shocking reminder of the devastation his actions could have caused to his whole family.

He said: 'I remember the day when he died I just felt sick. I couldn’t believe it. I felt it could have been me. Speedo was top-drawer. I saw what happened to his wife and kids afterwards and thought about how they must be feeling.'

Sepp Blatter shocked after Somali sport chiefs die in suicide bombing

Blatter shocked after Somalia's sport chiefs killed in suicide bomb blast

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UPDATED:

14:08 GMT, 4 April 2012

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has expressed his shock after the heads of Somalia's football federation and Olympic committee were both killed in a suicide bombing attack.

Somali FA president Said Mohamed Nur and Somali Olympic Committee president Aden Yabarow Wiish died after the blast on Wednesday in the national theatre in Mogadishu.

Blatter said in a statement: 'I am shocked to hear about the attack that has today taken the lives of several people in Mogadishu, including the president of the Somali Football Federation Said Mohamed Nur and Somali Olympic Committee president Aden Yabarow Wiish.

Scene: An ambluance outside the National Theatre

Scene: An ambluance outside the National Theatre

Aid: Soldiers secure the building after the blast

Aid: Soldiers secure the building after the blast

'I knew both men personally and can only say good things about their endless efforts to promote sport and football in their country. They will be sorely missed.

Sad: Sepp Blatter says both men will sorely be missed

Sad: Sepp Blatter says both men will sorely be missed

national theatre

'At this very sad time, my thoughts and those of FIFA and the worldwide football community are with the families and loved ones of all the victims of this attack, and especially to the football and sport family of Somalia.'

The two officials had only recently inspected the reconstruction of the national stadium in Mogadishu after years of civil war in Somalia.

Wales 0 Costa Rica 1: Visitors claim spoils in Gary Speed memorial match

Wales 0 Costa Rica 1: Visitors win in Cardiff as Welsh football celebrates life of Speed

Costa Rica claimed victory at the Cardiff City Stadium, on a night that was really all about paying tribute to the late Gary Speed.

Arsenal striker Joel Campbell scored the only goal of the game early on.

Before the game, Speed's father and sons took part in a moving ceremony. This was the first match for Wales since Speed committed suicide three months ago.

Pure delight: Joel Campbell celebrates his goal

Pure delight: Joel Campbell celebrates his goal

MATCH FACTS

Wales: Price, Gunter, Blake, Williams, Matthews, Robson-Kanu, Allen, Crofts, Vaughan, Bellamy, Morison. Subs not used: Brown, Vokes, Taylor, Ricketts, Gabbidon, Ledley, Earnshaw, Collison.

Costa Rica: Navas, Umana, Salvatierra, Miller, Cunningham, Barrantes, Azofeifa, Wallace, Oviedo, Ruiz, Campbell. Subs not used: Cambronero, Mora, Brenes, Diaz, Tejeda, Gabas, Cubero, McDonald.

Referee: Howard Webb (England).

Trying to catch up: Hal Robson-Kanu battles with Costa Rica's Bryan Oviedo

Trying to catch up: Hal Robson-Kanu battles with Costa Rica's Bryan Oviedo

##

Close attention: Wales' Steve Morison and Costa Rica's Michael Umana battle for the ball

Close attention: Wales' Steve Morison and Costa Rica's Michael Umana battle for the ball

''

Six Nations 2012: The Oval Office – Underwood brothers have nothing on Owens family

The Oval Office: Underwood brothers have nothing on the Owens family

Family matters: Ken and Vicky Owens

Family matters: Ken and Vicky Owens

Hooker Ken Owens starts his first game for Wales at
Twickenham on Saturday and two hours later sister Vicky will follow suit in
the women's Six Nations match-up. She took up rugby because she was
bored of standing on the sidelines watching her brother play. It proved a
decent decision.

Anyone for a pint

England have given Wales permission to
have a transportable cryotherapy capsule on site at Twickenham for
post-match recovery. Cryolab Sports have the only mobile unit in the UK
and Wales are taking the van to an away match for the first time to get
their players into the chamber after the final whistle. Whatever
happened to an old-fashioned pint

Caveman training

Away from bubbling anglo-Welsh hostilities was the heart-warming sight
Down Under of a caveman feeding a kangaroo. Sebastien 'Caveman' Chabal
will make a one-game cameo in Australia for Sydney's second-tier club
Balmain against rivals Petersham tomorrow. And one of the most
recognisable figures in the game had time to visit Taronga Zoo.

Suicide watch

Stephen Ferris says it is time Ireland stopped committing sporting suicide by gifting their opponents victory. 'New Zealand are the only team who have really beaten us, in the rest of the games we probably beat ourselves,' he said. 'We need to be smarter and when we do have our foot on opponents' throats, we should keep it there.'

Frustrated: Scotland's John Barclay

Frustrated: Scotland's John Barclay

A word, please

Scotland are frustrated. Flanker John Barclay used the word around 25 times in a press conference. Here is a sample: 'It's been a frustrating few weeks personally and for the team … there are a lot of frustrated guys kicking around, fed up … we're not far away and that's why it's frustrating.' How frustrating.

Bridging the gap

Wales crossed the Severn Bridge on Thursday as favourites but the statistics give England hope. Wales have missed most tackles (16) and conceded most penalties (13) while England have conceded the fewest (nine). The bad news for home fans is Wales have made the most tackles (178) and the most line breaks (seven) so far.