Darren Eadie interview: Depression saw me turn my back on football
“I turned my back football for many decades,” says Darren Eadie. “It wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy the game. It was simply because I loved it and that I couldn’t do it. Envision your fire – everything you wake up for – and then being told overnight you can not do it. Being told it’s OK because you’re still able to see your mates take action. It’s so tricky.”
Retirement comes to every footballer than he would ever have envisioned, but the end for Eadie came much sooner.
He had been a highly-rated winger. When he became an inaugural member of the club’s hall of fame he was playing. However, his move to Leicester has been blindsided by knee injuries. At just 28, his career was over.
“It was the shock than anything,” he tells Sky Sports. “I’d had injuries to my knee before and always come back from it so I always believed I would come back in the next one. So to wake up from an operation and now have my wife sat there along with the physio sat there as well as the physician sat there telling me how that my profession was performed at 28 had been a large shock.”
Appearances that were 251 had been made by eadie with 81 of these coming in the Premier League. He had been tipped for stardom as a youngster but he was anticipating a long career ahead of him if his injuries had ensured those heights weren’t going to be attained. Retirement was not the strategy.
The strategy had to change.
“It’s like being thrown out of a fish tank and unexpectedly you’re flailing about on the floor not knowing what to do. It’s a different environment. This was the problem for me. It was. It had been that I was really learning how to fit into society because it is extremely different to being in a football changing room.
“You have this kind of resilience to you personally as a footballer. In case you have a bad match then you tell yourself that there is another game round the corner and you’ll have the opportunity to place it behind you. That is the way I attempted to handle this. Try to enjoy my retirement and I was going to put it. But this quickly fades.
“It requires different life abilities and you need to know that fairly quickly. I think placing it was probably the worst thing I’ve ever completed. I must have spoken to folks right away. However, I attempted to put a brave face and bottled everything up, put it away, covered up it. After a time, which takes its toll”
Eadie suffered from depression.
There were even tears. Panic strikes. Occasionally he couldn’t leave the home. Other times he had to call his wife.
“It was a gradual process,” he explains. “In football, you will need a little bit of anxiety to perform with. You require stress. However, that was a lot. I had been making excuses to not see people. I made excuses not to go out. That is when you realise you’re becoming deeper and darker.
“There has been a point once I hit rock bottom and also my wife was wonderful at that time. She had been having to take care of a child. I had been someone who was needy. You end up hanging on their every word. All it would take is just one’wrong’ word and I’d be down at the depths again so that I think there needs to be more aid for those families as well.”
Could soccer do much to help?
“The difficulty when you complete early is that you’re a commodity. As much as they may value you once you’re finished, as soon as you are playing for them you are done. You can’t help them anymore. I can comprehend that. It’s a small business enterprise. However, whenever you are dealing with human beings there is a bit more into it than this. You can not treat people.
“Times have changed. The understanding is much superior than it had been rightly so. The way soccer sees it, even if you are not emotionally strong then you will be immediately discarded by a manager because you aren’t mentally perfect. They will only say his mind is not right without thinking about the reasons for this, to play and how they could help.
“I really do think the PFA has to do more. Here is the biggest game on earth but I believe in dealing with those difficulties, rugby and cricket are. A lot of time in football it’s just lip service. People say what other men and women wish to listen and don’t return to it.”
Life remains challenging for Eadie. Eighteen months ago he lost his mom to a brain haemorrhage that was surprising. But the positive for him is that he is discovering a means. He is in a location that is better. “There are always things to deal with in life but overall daily life doesn’t look so bad anymore,” he says.
“You learn when you’re going through a terrible period. The fantastic thing is that if you have been through the episode before you know there is an end to it. The problem is whenever you’re currently going through it first time, you’re going down and down, and you think there is no ending to it. That is when people take their own lives.
“If you’ve got an incident and get through it, that is when you discover they become more shorter, you can cope and you also develop procedures to take care of this. I’d urge anyone who has such kind of ideas to see someone and suffers those items. The longer you bottle it up, the longer you wait to visit a physician, the more challenging it will be.”
Eadie is currently enjoying his job running a soccer programme at an independent school – at Ipswich of places – and is involved in a different venture that is new that is exciting also. This season he helped launch a YouTube series FC Kitchen looking at meals and football in a way that was funny, aiming to increase awareness of the benefits of eating a diet.
“When you have kids yourself you are inclined to consider the larger picture and try to be responsible,” he states. “So it is a tie-in in terms of veganism and consuming less meat. I’ll eat meat but it is about providing an alternative and looking at how we could slow down our effect on Earth. We are pitching vegans against cats ”
Eadie is getting fun. His involvement in soccer is no longer limited to his job at school. After turning his back to the game, he is currently watching football. There is even some work for Norwich TV.
“It is normal to drift back to somewhere you had nice times,” he adds. “I am finding it enjoyable watching football again ”
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