Roy Carroll: Former NI goalkeeper says he feared alcohol could have killed him

Roy Carroll joined the Windsor Park club in 2016
Roy Carroll has not played since sustaining a cruciate ligament injury in January

Former Northern Ireland goalkeeper Roy Carroll has revealed he feared he was going to "end up dying" at the height of his battle with alcoholism.

The ex-Manchester United stopper opened up about the problems he faced as he drank heavily to deal with depression.

Speaking on Radio Ulster's Summer Club, the 41-year-old recalled the moment he realised he needed to address his excessive drinking.

"The drink had taken over my life, I didn't care about anybody," he said.

"Things were piling up and all I was worried about was when my next drink would be. I'd lost my wife and kids because I had to move out of the family home.

"About two or three years later [in 2011, after a spell in Denmark with Odense BK] I just woke up one morning in an apartment and said 'what am I doing, I'm going to end up dying here'.

"So I went into a hotel and stayed off the drink. Mentally I was strong enough to look after myself and get out of it.

"I got a call from a Greek agent asking me to go to Greece and I went back to my wife, who found out I had been off the drink for a couple of months.

"We went to Greece for a week, signed a contract for OFI Crete and I haven't looked back since."

'In a hole after suffering long-term back injury'

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'I was an alcoholic at 27 and didn't speak to anyone'

Carroll, who made 46 appearances for Manchester United between 2001 and 2005, said it was while suffering from a long-term back injury that he began drinking too much.

"It wasn't boredom for me, although it is for a lot of players as you have a lot of free time," he said when asked why his drinking became a problem.

"For me it was my back injury - I was out for 14 months and I was in that hole. I kept thinking 'how am I going to get back?'

"For the first three or four months I couldn't play with my young kids. I just got selfish and started drinking heavily as that was what took away the depression.

"It was hard to take and I look back now and can see how stupid I was but that's life and it's made me the person I am.

"I'm a very strong person now and I want to help other people in the game get over their dark days."

Using experience to help others

Roy Carroll
Carroll made a major impact at Linfield when he signed for manager David Healy in 2016

After being part of the Northern Ireland squad at the Euros in 2016, Carroll signed for Linfield and won two league titles in three successful years at Windsor Park.

However, a serious cruciate ligament injury in January brought a premature end to Carroll's season and the Fermanagh man left the Blues in May.

While he has stressed his determination to keep playing, Carroll has started preparing for life after his playing career is over by joining the OneTwo football agency which was founded by former international team-mate Keith Gillespie and Brian Adair.

"I was 27 years old when I was an alcoholic and I never spoke to anybody," he said.

"I think young players and senior players need to speak out when they are playing, and managers and coaches need to give them a second chance in life.

"For me coming in as an agent, I'm here to help these players. My phone is on 24/7 if anybody wants to speak to me at any time, because I've been through it.

"I went through dark days, especially for the last three or four years of when I was drinking. I've been off the drink now for eight years and I would talk to anyone. If they open up to me I can help them out."

Carroll, who made 45 appearances for Northern Ireland, also revealed that his knee injury will keep him out of action for a further five months.

He has been linked with a few Irish League clubs but has yet to sign for anyone since his departure from Linfield.