Wednesday 28 September 2016

Lorry driver who hit Clarke Carlisle during failed suicide bid won't speak to ex-footballer

Paul Hirst

Published 05/05/2015 | 08:49

Clarke Carlisle during his playing days with Burnley
Clarke Carlisle during his playing days with Burnley

The lorry driver who hit Clarke Carlisle during his failed suicide attempt has refused to speak with the former Burnley defender.

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Carlisle has been trying to get in touch with the driver to apologise for jumping in front of his vehicle on the A64 near York on December 22.

But the former England Under-21 international revealed in an interview in the June edition of GQ Magazine that the driver has rejected the opportunity to talk to him.

"I feel deeply ashamed and incredibly guilty: that I may have caused lasting trauma to my family but also, what about the driver? I have tried to make contact and he has point-blank refused and I understand that - he has to deal with it as he sees fit - but I wish I could see him and apologise," Carlisle said in a frank interview with former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell, who is a Burnley fan.

The former Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) chairman attempted to take his own life following a battle with depression, alcoholism and gambling.

He stepped off a bridge into the path of the oncoming lorry just before Christmas last year, but survived and was left with scars and some internal organ damage - mainly to his bladder.

The 35-year-old father of three said he was "devastated" when he realised he was still alive in the moments after the suicide attempt, but he is now happy he survived.

"I was totally devastated... I wanted to go," Carlisle said, reflecting on the suicide attempt.

"I was convinced it was the right thing to do and I was angry I was still living. They asked me my name and date of birth and I was annoyed I could remember - I didn't even get amnesia... I had my wallet on me so they had taken a look and one of them said, 'This is going to be big'.

"I cannot tell you how delighted I am to be alive (now)," he added. "Life is full of possibilities. I was totally shaken and stirred as a human being."

Carlisle, who has separated from his wife Gemma since the suicide attempt, has spent a large part of the last five months trying to raise awareness of mental health issues.

He believes it is all too easy for footballers' lives to spiral out of control once their playing days are over.

Carlisle said: "This is the ticking time bomb. At the top end, wages are through the roof. But in League One, say, wages are still good, but not good enough to set you up for the rest of your life.

"A lot of players just do not know what it takes to do a normal grand-a-week kind of job. No qualifications when they leave, no alternatives, nothing to replace what went before.

"You are living your dream - a dream you have had since you were a child - and you are elevated to such a status. There is adulation, you are mollycoddled, and when you leave you don't go from that to a status the same as others, but you go below. 'Didn't you used to be something? Oh yeah, you were a footballer - why did you stop? Were you s***?'"

Carlisle is also concerned about homophobia in the game.

He reveals in the interview that he used to bully former Burnley team-mate Wade Elliott.

"My stomach is turning even as I say it, but (it was) homophobic abuse, because he is small and people thought he looked a bit effeminate maybe," he said.

"I have the PFA to thank for making me see how wrong that was. [Football] is also a very homoerotic environment - everyone slapping backsides and pulling penises. But when homophobic abuse is targeted at one individual, it is horrendous."

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