Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Footballer David Cox on verge of quitting over mental health taunts

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Media captionFans have said to me 'go and hang yourself'

A footballer who previously urged clubs to crack down on mental health abuse says the taunts he receives are driving him out of the game.

David Cox, who plays for Scottish League Two side Cowdenbeath, has taken several weeks off while he considers his future.

Cox was targeted after speaking about mental health issues and revealing he tried to take his life five years ago.

The club has promised to walk off the pitch if he suffers further abuse.

Cox said the abuse he receives was having an impact not just on himself but was also affecting his family.

He said he now "feels done" and is considering whether to walk away from the game that has been "my life".

He told BBC Sport's Chris McLaughlin: "I can take the normal stuff, the name-calling, the pushing. But if I was racist to somebody the whole team would be on my case, saying to the referee, getting sent off.

"I just feel like I've had enough over the years, especially when it's starting to involve my wife and kids. I've had some of the stuff happening from home fans - standing in my wife's face while she's holding my wee girl, saying they pay their money so they'll shout what they want.

"That's why I'm at the stage I'm at - do I walk away and not let things like that bother me? On the other hand football has been my life. It's a hard one, it plays on my mind every day."

Cox has previously opened up on abuse from football fans and colleagues alike after revealing that he had self-harmed and attempted suicide. Opponents have used his depression to undermine his efforts during games, he said.

The former Forfar Athletic striker has battled depression since the age of 15.

'You can't have off days'

In October, England threatened to walk off during a Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria due to racist behaviour - and Cox believes his own team would need to walk off for Scottish football to truly understand the impact of mental health abuse.

He said: "I've always threatened it, if someone says something I'm just going to walk off the pitch. But in the back of my head I'm like don't be that person, don't let them win.

"It doesn't happen in any other walk of life or job. Fans just expect you to turn up and play well and you can't have off days. But how many people can't be bothered going to work, or may not like the people in their work?

"If they had to say I'm really struggling, would they get abuse for it or would they get help? I'm just the same as anyone else."

'People think I'm a ned'

The 30-year-old is currently seeking help to deal with his issues on the pitch, which he believes are fuelled by anger.

He said the club's chairman Donald Findlay would back him if he chose to leave the game and has given his full support.

For now, he said he needed an indefinite break from targeted comments about his mental health.

Cox said: "When I react people think I'm just this angry wee guy, that's all I do and I'm out to hurt folk on the park or I'm a wee ned.

"I've just started to build up a bit of anger, starting to hate football, the fans and not really dealing with the issue.

"I've got a lot of stuff back in my childhood that's made me the way I am. I'm trying to fix that and work on that and speak to people and learn how to deal with things a different way. "

  • If you have been affected by mental health issues, help and support is available at BBC Action Line.

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