Sunday 24 September 2017

Ireland international Harry Arter reveals how he broke down in front of his father after the Oman game

Harry Arter of Republic of Ireland, rests his hand on the shoulder of teammate Jonathan Walters during the Three International Friendly game between the Republic of Ireland and Oman at the Aviva Stadium in Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Harry Arter of Republic of Ireland, rests his hand on the shoulder of teammate Jonathan Walters during the Three International Friendly game between the Republic of Ireland and Oman at the Aviva Stadium in Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Bournemouth and Ireland midfielder Harry Arter told the Sunday World's Kevin Palmer about how he broke down in front of his father in the FAI Players Lounge after Ireland's 4-0 win over Oman at the Aviva Stadium last year.

Still processing the death of his stillborn baby Renee, Arter's delicate mental state was compounded by the loss of his grandfather in the lead up to the Oman game.

Arter said that none of his teammates knew about the loss prior to the game, but that he became overwhelmed with emotion when he saw his father standing in the Players Lounge after the game.

“I will never forget the way I felt on the pitch in that Oman game,” said Arter, in an exclusive interview with Kevin Palmer.

“I did not sleep one wink the night before. I was just sat in my room, my head was racing. I didn’t know how to deal with everything that was coming at me.

“The concern for me at the time was that I might feel like I did in those few weeks for the rest of my life and that was frightening.

“What pushed me to that point was probably my Grandad passing away just before the Oman game and his funeral was coming up when I got back from Ireland.

“It was my Dad’s father and we were all so close to him. It had a massive impact on how I was feeling at that moment.

“No one knew about my Grandad going into the Oman game. I didn’t want anyone to know about it, but it added to the cumulative effect.

“What happened with Renee and trying to come to terms with that, missing out on Euro 2016 with an injury, I had been sent off in the Premier League the week before, Bournemouth hadn’t won a game, my Grandad dying….

“My life had seemed perfect up to this point. I didn’t have anyone in my family who had passed away and I was living the dream as a Premier League footballer. Suddenly, everything was closing in on me.

“What I didn’t know if was whether the way I was feeling was normal and I didn’t want to pull out of the squad in case this is how I would feel forever more.

“This was a chance for me to get an international game under my belt and I had not had too many chances with Ireland up to that point. I had to try and play, but I was not right at all.”

Arter played 45 minutes of the game with the private tears he shed after the game playing a significant role in his grieving.

“I remember going up to the players lounge after the Oman game and my Dad was there and I just broke down in front of him,” he continues.

“We were grieving as a family, which just added to everything that was going on for me at the time and it was all too much.

“I was weighed down by so many aspects of my life and couldn’t cope with it.

“Firstly, the grief over Renee was so intense and I didn’t know how to deal with it.

“Secondly, I didn’t have any passion for football and that was totally alien to me. I knew I needed to get this out of my mind, but didn’t have the motivation to do it.

“I was in a real bad place, purely because I was worried by so much stuff in my life and was not coping with any of it.

“A week or so earlier, I had been sent off playing for Bournemouth against West Ham and I remember walking off the pitch and I didn’t care one bit.

“I was sitting in the changing room thinking that if the manager comes in a hammers me here, it would be like he is speaking to a brick wall. I wouldn’t have cared what he said. It was not going to enter my mind.

“Maybe I should have pulled out of that Ireland game, but I wanted to get through it. That felt easier than pulling out."

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