LONDON • Former Liverpool and England goalkeeper Chris Kirkland has revealed that depression was behind his decision to retire from the game last year.
The 36-year-old left Bury shortly after joining the English third-tier club, having previously represented teams including Liverpool, Wigan Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday.
Capped once by England, Kirkland said he had thought about committing suicide, but thoughts of his wife and daughter kept him going.
"I was worried how close I was to the next step. That's why I said: 'I need to stop playing football'," he said in an interview published by The Guardian yesterday.
The British newspaper also reported that it was in August last year that Kirkland was mired in a battle against depression - the insidious illness that the Englishman said started to creep up on him in 2012 after his departure from Wigan.
He revealed that Wigan was a club he loved and did not want to leave.
He had signed a one-year contract at Bury in June last year but he came to feel overwhelmed. He simply could not continue.
During the interview, he talked about how he needed "time and space away from the game" and that he was retiring at 35 after a 17-season professional career in order to put his "family's future and well-being first".
It did not disclose the specifics of the depression.
Kirkland, who was a member of the Liverpool squad that won the Champions League in 2005, encouraged players experiencing similar problems to seek help.
"It's easy for me to talk about it now because I've seen a way out of it," he said.
"That is the biggest thing and I want other people and other players to know that you've just got to talk.
"I never saw a way out of it until I started to talk about it. There was a fear.
"But as soon as you talk, that's when you're helping yourself and your family."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN