Former Ireland international Richard Keogh has revealed how his dismissal from Derby County following a gross misconduct case in 2019 left him at his lowest ebb.
Earlier this year, Keogh won a major victory in his battle with Derby over his sacking, with an award of over £2million in his favour.
Keogh was punished by the club for his role in a drink-driving incident during a team-bonding day in 2019.
The defender suffered a season-ending knee injury in a car crash where he was a backseat passenger, the car driven by team-mate Tom Lawrence.
Lawrence and another Rams player, Mason Bennett, pleaded guilty to drink-driving and avoided jail. They were fined by the club but Keogh, who was not driving on the day in question, was also disciplined by the Rams in his role as club captain.
Derby demanded that he take a massive pay cut for the remainder of his £24,000-a-week contract and when Keogh refused to accept that punishment he had his contract terminated.
He took that case to the Football League's Player Related Dispute Commission (PRDC) and they found in his favour. Derby contested that decision with the League Appeals’ Committee (LAC) but that body has now backed Keogh.
In an in-depth interview with the Guardian, Keogh revealed that he sunk into a depression and started to hate the game he once loved.
“I’ve had this conversation before. I wasn’t feeling suicidal. I wasn’t,” said Keogh.
"Some days, I was in depression – I genuinely do believe that. But mainly I think I was right on the cusp of it. I was literally on the line for a lot of the time.”
His wife, Charlie, added: “He had a full-on breakdown one night. He was just sobbing, saying: ‘What’s the point?’”
Keogh adds: “I had a 10-day period where I was in a pretty bad place. Everything got on top of me and I didn’t know how to deal with it. What they did to me made me hate football and I did say: ‘That’s it. I can’t be arsed to do it any more.’
“Being the best husband and the best father is more important than being a footballer and if I had to retire to be that, then I would do it. But as Charlie pointed out, if I retired, would I be happy and able to be that person? I had to come out the other side.”
Keogh was always close with Lawrence and added that he was remorseful after the incident and that the pair are still on talking terms.
Former Ireland management team Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane are also name-checked as being very supportive during a tough time as are Mick McCarthy and David McGoldrick.
And while Keogh describes the decision of Derby to terminate his contract at Derby as “nonsense”, he added that he has moved forward and would even consider rejoining the club should the chance arise again.