Saturday 17 March 2018

'You feel you're sinking lower and and there's no way out' - former Derry footballer reveals battle with depression and suicidal thoughts

Liam Coyle, Derry City, in action against Barcelona's Patrick Andersson during a friendly in 2003
Liam Coyle, Derry City, in action against Barcelona's Patrick Andersson during a friendly in 2003
Declan Whooley

Declan Whooley

Former Derry City player Liam Coyle has spoken out about his battle with depression and revealed he only decided against taking his own life because of the devastating effect it would have on his mother.

Coyle enjoyed an 18-year career in Ireland that included four different stints with the Brandywell club and followed in his father's footsteps by winning international honours with Northern Ireland, with his sole cap coming in 1989.

Coyle burst onto the scene in the 1988/89 season with a hat-trick on his Derry debut against Cobh and finished the season as the League of Ireland Young Player of the Year.

However, a year later his world was turned upside down after suffering a bad injury which resulted in his battle with depression.

Speaking to BBC Radio Foyle, Liam said it was a league game at Dundalk in September 1989 where he sustained a serious knee injury and was told he would never play again, that changed everything.

"I'd gone from all those highs to having the rug pulled from underneath me," he said. "Once I stopped playing for Derry City I went on a downward spiral that I just couldn't get out of for a year and a half.

"I was just spiralling, going deeper and deeper, there was no easy way of getting up every morning and saying this was going to be a different day.  "You feel as if you're sinking lower and lower and there's no way out."

He said he'd contemplated taking his own life, but changed his mind because of the effect it would have on his mother.

"Then I thought about me mother you know, I thought about what it would do to her and I think that's what stopped me.

"It's strange because everybody thinks footballers are these strong , athletic young men with everything going for them but then you look at Gary Speed, you didn't even see that coming.

"Clarke Carlisle has spoke about his depression for a long time and It just shows it can affect anyone."

Despite being told by doctors that he would never play again, Liam Coyle made a comeback for Omagh for the 1992-93 Irish League season and eventually returned to Derry City to be widely regarded as the greatest player in their history.

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