Thursday 19 July 2018

'I'd fallen out of love with the game, I hated it. I hated life' - Conor Clifford opens up on depression battle

Conor Clifford has been working on his fitness at St Catherine’s Community Sports Centre in Dublin
Conor Clifford has been working on his fitness at St Catherine’s Community Sports Centre in Dublin
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

FORMER Ireland underage football star Conor Clifford has opened up on his battle with depression when his career went off the rails.

Clifford is nearing the end of a six month worldwide ban for betting offences during an unhappy period before he came home from the UK.

The Dubliner was the captain of a Chelsea side that won the FA Youth Cup in 2010 and was called into the Ireland senior squad a year later on account of his huge teenage reputation. But he failed to make the breakthrough with the Stamford Bridge and slid down the leagues.

In an exclusive interview with today's Irish Independent, the 26-year-old has expanded on just how badly he was struggling in his final days across the water.

He said that his parents Paul and Catherine ended up bringing him to a psychologist after they realised the extent of his difficulties.

"I felt so embarrassed telling them what was up because they didn't know how bad I was," said Clifford. "I didn't want them worrying.

"I got caught in a bubble earning great money and I just thought it was going to last forever. So I took my foot off the pedal. I went from that high of everything going well to wondering how I had ended up in non-league, with no idea of where I was going.

"I'd fallen out of love with the game, I hated it. I hated life. I wondered why I was miserable going back to an apartment on my own and then didn't want to get up in the morning or open the curtains or go to training. I am comfortable to say that it (depression) is what it was.

"I would recommend to anybody going through depression or feeling horrible, that the best thing you can do is speak because you feel 100 times better afterwards. I felt unbelievable when I did."

Clifford is training on his own with a view to an April comeback.

Read the full interview in today's Irish Independent

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