Former Doncaster Rovers star David Cotterill has revealed how he tried to slash his own throat and stab himself in the stomach at the height of his battle with depression and drink.
In a harrowing and candid interview with The Sun, the player has revealed how he considered suicide on several occasions.
He tells how he self-harmed with knives and corkscrews, downed three bottles of wine a night and was saved by his wife after stabbing himself with a kitchen knife.
Cotterill, who was part of the Wales squad who reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016, said: “Even at my greatest heights in football I felt in a place where I wasn’t happy with myself and there were a few times I thought about suicide.
“I remember it happened when I played at both Birmingham and Doncaster — we actually got promoted that year. I scored ten goals, assisted 23 and all I wanted to do was be done with it. It’s mad.
“Depression is not something you can turn on and off like a light switch.
“After nights out, I’d have a knife to my throat or digging it into my stomach, trying to end it.
“I’ve nicked myself before using one of those big kitchen knives with massive blades you use to cut meat.
“I’d be lying on the floor in the kitchen and my wife would come in crying. She would grab the knife off me and I’d be so drunk I would pass out. I’ve done the same with a corkscrew.
“You don’t want to cause any more problems for your family. You think, be done with it and they can live happily. But, in essence, that is worse.
“I’m mentally stronger now. It’s still a struggle at times but I look at my wife and kids and do the right thing for them.
“I’m just glad I did not take things a step too far before it was too late.”
Before his retirement earlier this year, Cotterill played for eight clubs during his 14-year professional career at Bristol City, Wigan, Sheffield United, Swansea, Portsmouth, Barnsley, Doncaster and Birmingham.
He also spoke of an incident when he injured his hand punching a mirror.
He added: “I punched a mirror in the bathroom of a Cardiff hotel after a friend’s 30th birthday party and cut my hand.
“I woke up the next day, the bed was full of blood and my wife had been crying.
“The bone was popping out but I went into training at Birmingham wearing gloves because I thought no one would notice.
“My hand was killing me. I showed the physio, told him I’d had an accident and the doctor stitched it up. I’ve still got the scar.
He says he is now dealing with his issues by talking openly about his battle with depression.
He added: “Doing talks and helping others is my way of therapy. It’s helped me a lot to explain what I’ve been through.
“I can relate to the dark and crazy things they are doing. The older I got the more I realised there was a dark cloud over me. I’m hoping this can help people.
Cotterill, who won 24 caps for Wales, says that he has suffered from depression from his school days – and that playing football often didn’t provide the answers to helping his moods.
He said: “There would be times when I finished training and I couldn't wait to go and lie in bed. I'd be there for hours.
"Particularly in the off-season, I'd just spend three or four days at a time not even eating, just thinking the worst things you can imagine and not actually sleeping at all. You'd stay there because you didn't want to face the world."