Jonny Wilkinson: Retired England World Cup winner 'breaking apart'

Jonny Wilkinson
Jonny Wilkinson was awarded the MBE after helping England to win the 2003 World Cup

England World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson feels like he is "breaking apart" as he adjusts to life after retiring from rugby.

The 36-year-old's drop-goal won the 2003 final against Australia but he ended his 18-year career in 2014.

He says he suffered from depression between the 2003 and 2007 World Cups because of injuries and there was a "fraudulent side" to his success.

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"I don't feel any worth in saying 'I was a rugby player'," he said.

In a frank interview with the Mail on Sunday,external-link the former Newcastle Falcons and Toulon fly-half reveals his "confusion" about both his achievements and future.

Wilkinson won 91 England caps, is his country's leading points scorer and one of just five men to score 1,000 points in international rugby, with his total of 1,246 second only to New Zealand great Dan Carter.

He received an MBE from the Queen in 2003 after the World Cup triumph and was made a CBE in June this year.

"I find it difficult being honoured with something when I don't see that I have earned it, or could have earned it," said Wilkinson.

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"I feel like I'm breaking apart in that I am going somewhere where my answer will be massively in the spiritual and philosophical, but it's not there yet.

"Before I got my injuries I was so tied up with who I was and how important I felt I was.

"I went through depression in the four years I was injured. I was forced to go through it."

Wilkinson also enjoyed a successful club career, winning a Premiership title and two Anglo-Welsh Cups with Newcastle and two Heineken Cups and a French Top 14 title with Toulon, where he ended his playing days.

"The best thing about my career in terms of me as a person was being injured for four years and going through what I went through in terms of mental issues.

"I feel my mind has been opened and I have been supported towards being able to attack life on a privileged level."