Wednesday 22 May 2019

'I feel lucky to have a second chance of life' - Ex-Hull defender Lenihan reveals mental health issues ended his career


Former Cork City and Hull City player Brian Lenihan. Photo: Sportsfile
Former Cork City and Hull City player Brian Lenihan. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Former Cork City and Hull City player Brian Lenihan has revealed that he retired from football due to mental health problems and a suicide attempt.

The 24-year-old hung up his boots in April and it was widely assumed that he had quit because of the injury issues that dogged him after his move from his native Cork to Hull in 2014 that was followed by a call-up from Martin O'Neill.

He ended up making just two appearances for Hull, and Lenihan says it was his struggle to come to terms with that which affected his well-being.

Lenihan decided to speak about his problems in an interview with the Cork-based Hard Knocks Sports Podcast.

"The reason I did retire was due to illness, not injury," said Lenihan, who said the low point came last year. "It was a really dark period in my life from July up until December. I was struggling a lot with football and lots of other things, mainly my mental health.

"On December 15, I attempted suicide. I was then brought to hospital and transferred to the Priory Hospital in Altrincham and I spent three months there."

Lenihan said he did 12 sessions of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which is essentially shock treatment that provides relief from mental disorders.

He is now living in Manchester with his girlfriend and is happy to be out of the sport.

"I feel lucky to have a second chance of life, lots of other people don't," continued Lenihan who said the reason for his problems was "the pressure and stress of football" and his failure to reach his potential and get a reward for the hard work he was putting in.

"Mental health and depression needs to be taken seriously. It wasn't as if I didn't have a close-knit family or good support network, I really did.

"But when you're in that state of mind, I don't think anything can stop you from making silly mistakes. It's the cancer of the mind, it's so difficult to get over."

Irish Independent

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