Sunday 19 January 2020

'It should have been the best weekend of my life' - Jake Livermore opens up about tragedy

Jake Livermore has called testing positive for cocaine in 2015 but avoiding an FA ban and prison sentence "my get out of jail free card".

Almost a year after losing his newborn son, Jake Junior, in childbirth the Hull midfielder had turned to drugs and, after testing positive, was suspended by his club.

He subsequently received help from Hull, the PFA and the FA, with the latter deciding not to ban him because of "the unique nature of circumstances" involved with him losing his young son.

Speaking candidly to former Tottenham team-mate Jermaine Jenas, Livermore told BBC1's Football Focus: "It's so far from me as a person and my family traits.

"The drugs were irrelevant, the drugs weren't the problem. Something needed to be done and to be honest, God works in mysterious ways, and that was his way, that was my get out of jail free card. You know, this kid needs help."

He and his partner Danielle Del-Giudice lost their son soon after Hull's 2014 FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal following extra time, Livermore having played the full 120 minutes.

"It should have been the best weekend of my life really, regardless of the result, regardless.

"We all went back to a do at the hotel and from there I went straight to the hospital where she was in labour, and from there it all spiralled out of control," he recalled.

"It's a situation you would never wish on anyone, to lose your child, to lose your son in a scenario which should all be under control and was under control at one point, it makes it that much harder to deal with.

"It should have been such a glorious, happy time for everyone. Everyone was excited, my team-mates, my family. To go through that, it was tragic."

Once his drug-taking came to light, Livermore faced the prospect of a prison sentence, let alone a ban from football.

He continued: "I almost felt relieved. I remember putting my hands behind my head and actually laying back in the manager's office. I can remember him looking at me, as if to think 'are you serious, it could be two years, it could be four years'.

"And again at that point it was 'I don't care'. The mental state I was in needed addressing. I can say the drugs were irrelevant, the drink was irrelevant, performance is irrelevant, it was something much deeper than that that I needed to get off my chest.

"Whether you say I was too strong to talk about it or not strong enough to talk about it, either way it did come out.

"Once it had all come to light, word started getting round [about] the reasons, why you'd do such a foolish thing - or a desperate thing I prefer to use - then I started to get support from those closest to me.

"It's only once the scenario's happened you realise who is there and who it would benefit to speak to. The FA and the PFA, once it had all come to light, had been nothing but supportive.

"And that's something that I'd urge any trouble that young players have, go and use those people and talk to people. That's something that over the next few months I'm going to continue to do."

The 26-year-old, a first-team regular for Hull who earned promotion to the Premier League last season, has since become a father again, with the baby being born healthily.

"It's fantastic, it's what it's all about, and I've been generally just a happy person," he said.

"I think that has shown on the field as well. I'd not been able to play with a smile on my face for a little while. Now it's finally coming out."

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