At last year’s inaugural Injured. conference Chris Kirkland spoke publicly for the first time about his struggles with mental health.
One year on, Kirkland is in temporary charge at Liverpool Women and has come back to the PFA’s conference to share his journey with health-care professionals from football clubs across the country.
Kirkland reflects back: “I was in a bad place, a real bad place.
“The biggest thing was just speaking out, talking and getting the help needed.
“My wife Leona and daughter Lucy have been great as well, we were honest with Lucy about what was going on, which I think you have to be with kids now.
“The last year has been a lot better, not just for me, but for them as well.
“It’s just as hard for the people living with you, at the time you don’t realise that, but now having seen it and knowing what she has gone through... and now that I’ve come out the other side, she deserves a medal.
“The more you keep busy, the more your mind is occupied, I prefer it that way.
“I’ve still got my own goalkeeping academy, I work with LFCTV a lot and obviously with my role at Liverpool Women.
“I came here in the summer, doing a goalkeeper role and then Peter Moore asked me to take over things for the time being with Vicky Jepson and all the other staff as well.
“We are getting there now. It’s been really tough but I’ve enjoyed it in a strange way.
“You need to have something to get up for… when I was going through my career, I thought when I retire, ‘I’m going to go on holiday’, ‘I’m going to play golf everyday’, ‘I’m not going to do anything’...
"You can only do that for so long and then you miss having that structure, something to get up for, something to plan for and something to look forward to."
Looking towards the future, Kirkland says: “I don’t think this is ever going to go away but I want to be able to deal with things better.
“I’ve already made good strides, I want to be involved in football still. I’ve got my Academy.
“I want to enjoy family life more, just enjoy life more. Because for five or six years, I didn’t. I lost five or six years and I want to make up for them.
“You’ve always got to remember, what you’re going through, someone else has been through it as well and maybe worse. There is a way out, but you’ve got to talk.”
Getting support via the PFA…
The PFA provides members with a 24/7 counselling telephone helpline. This 'round-the-clock' support is available to all members past and present.
All services are private and confidential, PFA members (or concerned friends and family) can contact the PFA:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- PFA Members can call the 24hr Counselling Helpline: 07500 000 777