Former Norwich City star Darren Eadie speaks out about battle with depression

PUBLISHED: 10:21 19 July 2012 | UPDATED: 10:28 19 July 2012

Former NCFC footballer Darren Eadie runs the Sellebrity charity website.; Photo: Bill Smith

Former NCFC footballer Darren Eadie runs the Sellebrity charity website.; Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2011

Darren Eadie talks about the end of his football career in an interview with The Independent last week.

Eadie, who made his name as left-sided midfielder with Norwich City and later Leicester described the devastating effects of his depression in The Independent.

The paper questioned whether footballers forced to leave before their time is up receive enough after-care in the transition from football to ‘normal’ life.

Eadie scored three goals in 20 appearances during his debut season and in six in his second.

In the 1996-97 season he was the club’s leading scorer with 17 league goals and was voted Norwich City Player of the Year.

When Leicester Martin O’Neill became Eadie’s manager at Carrow Road, he was quoted saying that he had tried to sign Eadie at previous occasions – at the time the £3,000,000 fee was the highest that Leicester had ever paid for a player.

Eadie was an outstanding credit to his football teams but was just one of the unfortunate ones.

It was in 2003, after third-time knee operation, at a private hospital in Leicester, where Eadie experienced every footballer’s worst nightmare.

Surgeon and Leicester physio Dave Rennie were to tell him that his time had come, football was soon to be a thing of the past for Norwich player.

Eadie said in the interview: “I just knew by the look on their faces that the news wasn’t good but the words ‘I’d advise you that it would be in your best interests to give football up’ were shattering.”

Kelly, Eadie’s wife, was quoted in the paper, she said: “I can remember walking into the hospital and seeing Darren lying on the bed with his arm covering his face.

It was a massive blow for him, knowing that his football career was over, and it affected all his family too, as our family life was based around Darren’s football career.”

Surgeon Lars Peterson had carried out an operation 12 months earlier in Sweden to find out what had contributed to the end of Eadie’s career – the idea was to re-grow part of his cartilage in a lab, then inject it into his knee via three grafts.

Much loved footballer had suffered with knee problems before but had always overcome them.

The knee never felt the same after the Swedish surgery and while running one day Eadie felt ‘something go in it’ – one of the grafts had fallen out of place.

Eadie could remember when the realisation first hit him – that football would no longer be the focus of his life and so began the downward spiral of his depression.

He would be driving around the country lanes of Norfolk and just not be able to go any further.

He said to James Scowcroft, former Ipswich townstriker and interviewer: “I would go into Norwich and walk around and see everybody else was happy and it depressed me even more. It was a vicious circle. Then the panic attacks started and it was completely debilitating. I’d end up having to call Kelly to come and get me. It was really scary and it paralysed me at times. It would happen up to three times a day, and cause pain in my arms and other places in my body.”

Unlucky footballer would be unable to go into the sea with his kids on holiday and couldn’t sit through a birthday meal with for his wife’s birthday as the panic would regularly take hold of him.

Former footballer’s wife said to The Independent: “It was like looking after another child. I didn’t really have anybody to seek guidance from. It was very lonely and it certainly put pressure on our marriage. I didn’t realise depression could make you so physically ill at times. I needed help on how to deal with the illness. Football ruled our lives when Darren played. He told me in the middle of all this that he could never see himself happy again. He wasn’t able to go running for four years after he’d finished football. He couldn’t even go out in the garden and play with our son, Taylor.”

Wife, Kelly, was quoted inside much-read paper The Independent – she said that she wasn’t happy with the way the Professional Footballers’ Association dealt with the situation.

“I was disappointed with the help that came from within the game. I spoke with Professional Footballers’ Association chairman, Clarke Carlisle, who was great, but overall I found the PFA disappointing. When Gary Speed died, the PFA said they would be sending out leaflets to all ex-players about life after football, but nothing ever came through my door. I found myself waiting everyday for it to arrive. There needs to be a place sportspeople can go to sort their heads out. Treat the early stages of depression.”

Eadie eventually fought the depression and frequent attacks due to the continued support of his family.

He said: “Wealth, race, age, gender – it can affect anybody at any time. It really is so important to talk and seek help. You will be amazed at the support.”

The future is different but bright for former Premier League footballer now that he has fought the depression.

He works in local radio and sky sports, allowing him to still be a part of the football world – keeping tabs on his Leicester and Norwich teams.

“It is still one step at a time for me, but I want to be just as successful in something else as I was in football.”

The support on Twitter for Darren Eadie has been vast – with Eadie re-tweeting encouraging messages from his fans.

‘Great article @eadie11 everyone at FITC summer schools back in the day wanted to be just like you. Wishing you all the best in the future.’ – from @Anthony0gogo

‘@eadie11 Darren, total hero of mine mate, had tears in my eyes reading your article. I work for Aviva, anything I can do just ask.’ – from @Paterick1975

‘@eadie11 Just read “that piece” very brave, am a friend of a friend, Lisa A. Had my issues too, things like that can only help, Much respect.’ – from @simoncity

‘Just read a thought-provoking article with @eadie11 more should read this, good luck day at a time my friend.’ – from @lordyfan

‘@eadie11 Mate, I’ve just read your article actually upsetting. You are why I play football. Absolute hero & great guy. Pleased your better now.’ – from @crazy_legs84

‘@eadie11 Brilliant player for LCFC. And a brilliant article in The Independent. All the best for the future mate.’ – from @MattJLP87

‘@eadie11 Great piece in The Independent Darren. Good luck with the business ventures too.’ – from @savvy_monkey

‘@eadie11 Just read your article pal, same thing happened to me quite a few years back! A lot of admiration for you bud!! Onwards and Upwards!!’ – from @Dan_Hoops

‘@eadie11 Would like to say well done for opening up like you did has sent out one of the positive response on Twitter #respect’ – from @TommyAllsopp

‘@PaulMcveigh77 Everyone associated with #NCFC and the football world in general must be full of admiration for @eadie11 and his courage.’ – from @gerardcassidy

‘Touching how 2 of my sporting heroes @eadie11 and @flintoff11 have suffered similarly. All the best gents. Even heroes need help sometimes.’ – from @wharvy

‘@eadie11 Just read your article! Well done for coming through it! And the same for your wife for helping you through it! #lcfcfamily’ – from @trishy_b21

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