Ray Wilkins: Alcohol problem left me "feeling like dirt"

Ex-Chelsea, Manchester United and England goalkeeper Ray Wilkins has opened up about the depths he plunged to during a 16-year battle with depression and alcoholism, reports heraldscotland.com.

Wilkins, now a pundit for Sky Sports, says he first noticed a change in his mood after what should have been one of the crowning moments in his illustrious footballing career.

The 57-year-old completed a big-money move from Queens Park Rangers to Chelsea in 1996 which resulted in him being made captain. However, the pressure that followed would turn out to have a detrimental effect on his wellbeing and send Wilkins on a downward spiral.

In an interview with theguardian.co.uk, Wilkins claimed to have battled relentlessly with depression until 2010, when his shock departure from a coaching job at Chelsea proved too much to bear.

This led him to alcohol, two drink-driving convictions and what he describes as his darkest time.

"The alcohol fuelled depression and vice-versa," he said, speaking of a period which left him "feeling like dirt".

Speaking of his battle with alcohol and depression, he said: "They were linked. No two ways about it. The driving problem came when I was suffering, big time."

Speaking of the second incident, in July of last year, he said: "I'd let myself down. I'd let my family down. And I had to do something about it."

This led Wilkins to a clinic for ex-athletes who have struggled to come to terms with life away from the game. He also visited special groups for patients suffering from alcohol abuse and vowed to set himself straight.

One month on and Wilkins says he's in a much better place.

"And since I came out I've been so much more positive than I had been for a long, long period," he added.