'Selfish' Billy Sharp on how football helped him deal with his son Luey's death

Billy Sharp has described himself as “selfish” for playing and scoring days after the death of his two-day-old son Luey from gastroschisis, but says it played a crucial part in getting through the experience.

Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp lost his son Luey while playing for Doncaster Rovers

In an emotional podcast with his current club, Sheffield United, the Blades striker spoke of his difficult times at Doncaster Rovers, then in the Championship.

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In October 2011, newly-born Luey died three days before Rovers played Middlesbrough. Sharp missed the previous match against Coventry City because he could not bear to leave his son's bedside.

Fourteen minutes into the game against Middlesbrough, captain-for-the-night Sharp, scored and revealed a T-shirt saying, “That's for you son”.

“I was tough at the time but I'm delighted to be able to say I got through it and it was football that got me through it, and the people around me,” said Sharp, who later played for Leeds United before rejoining his boyhood club and scoring the Blades' first goal back in the Premier League this season.

“I wanted to just get back on track and football made me get back on track when we lost Luey.

“I scored that goal which was selfish of me, looking back on it.

“I didn't train for three days, didn't eat or drink. I was a the hospice in Wetherby, (then-Doncaster manager) Dean Saunders rang me and said, 'Everything all right?'

“I said, 'Yep, I want to play tonight.'

“He went, 'You've not been at training for three days but that's the best news I've heard all day. You'll be captain tonight.' That made me feel great.

“I went for a little jog and I remember a window going down on a van. I can't say exactly what he said but there was speculation I was leaving the club at the time and he said a few things to me. I just blanked him. When he drove on, I thought, 'He's going to be surprised tonight when I turn out for Doncaster.'

“It was selfish because I left my now wife, Jade, in the hospice to go and play football but I think it's the best thing I did.

“That was a tough night but I got what I wanted, a goal for people to remember him by. My team-mates that night, my manager, the fans, the whole world really because it was overwhelming the support myself, Jade and my family got, just showed you the strengths of football and the beauty of football, how it can bring people together.

“I remember Tony Mowbray (Middlesbrough's manager) after the game, said it was a goal from Heaven and it's something I'll not forget. I remember him coming over to me and saying, 'Well done, son, you've done your son proud tonight.'

“The kit man did the T-shirt off his own back. I'd not even thought about stuff like that but I was, like, 'Yeah, I'm going to wear that, I'm going to score tonight.' I've a lot of respect for him for that. I still speak to him now.

“That night helped me a lot going forward and I'll never forget my time at Doncaster for the tough times I was having.”

You can watch the podcast in full at www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJUHzp5q1Uc.