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Ex-Dub Leonard reveals drink and drugs battle

THE one-time understudy of Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton has revealed how drink and drugs almost ruined his life after he was jettisoned from the Sky Blues’ senior football panel.

In a remarkable interview, John Leonard has explained how he always had addiction issues but went over the edge after being dropped from the panel by Pat Gilroy, who had put the squad he inherited in 2008 through a series of fitness tests.

“I smoked hash when I was a teenager. Got into ecstasy, cocaine. Even smoked opium in the Himalayas. I couldn’t have two or three drinks. It would be a three or four-day bender,” Leonard admitted.

But when Gilroy phoned with the bad news, he said it sent him “into a downward spiral. When I’d gone on binges before, there had been an element of enjoyment. But I was angry, paranoid, got a bit crazy – and a lot of the ‘good’ parts of drink or drugs were disappearing. I had a few breakdowns in Ireland. And when I got to Australia, I was in a weird mental state.

“It was the lowest I’ve ever felt about myself. Being involved with Dublin is such an amazing experience. When that goes, it’s like losing your first love,” he added. “Even though I wasn’t getting into the Dublin team, it became my life. It was everything to me.”

The former St Sylvester’s netminder is now clean, married, travelling the world and writing a blog – www.soberpaddy.com – that details his battle to steer clear of his former addictions.

He said the “penny dropped” after |a few incidents within a few weeks while in Australia. “I had a look at AA, but it wasn’t for me. You need to put your trust in a God, and I’m a fully committed atheist,” Leonard pointed out. “I struggled really hard at the beginning after quitting drink and drugs, but stuck at it day to day.”